Pope Francis has sent a message for the 50th anniversary of the joint working group between the Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches (WCC) and has called for continued dialogue.
Since its inauguration in 1965, the Jesuit Pope said, the Joint Working Group has fostered the necessary conditions for a greater common witness of the Catholic Church and the Churches and Ecclesial Communities of the World Council of Churches. The group, he said, has promoted values, not only in ecumenical issues, but also in the areas of interreligious dialogue, peace and social justice, and works of charity and humanitarian aid.
“The Joint Working Group should not be an inward-looking forum,” Francis said.
To this end, the Pontiff called on the WCC to “become ever more a “think-tank,” which requires it to be always “open to all the opportunities and challenges facing the Churches today in their mission of accompanying suffering humanity on the path to the Kingdom.”
This, the Jesuit Pope suggested, is to be done by putting Gospel truths and values into society and culture and by strengthening dialogue.
“Disagreements on various subjects – in particular anthropological, ethical and social issues, as well as issues related to the understanding of the nature and conditions of the unity we seek – demand further sustained efforts,” the Pope said. “Our dialogue must continue!”
“I encourage the Joint Working Group to further its discussion on crucial ecumenical issues and, at the same time, to promote ways for Christians to testify together to the real, though imperfect, communion shared by all the baptized. May we always trust that the Holy Spirit will continue to assist and guide our journey, often in new and sometimes unexpected ways.”
The Holy Father prayed, “Let us join together in imploring our heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ our Redeemer, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, to grant us the gift of full visible unity among all Christians, so that the Church will ever more be a sign of hope to the world and an instrument of reconciliation for all peoples.”
According to its official website, the World Council of Churches (WCC) is a broad and inclusive organized expression of the modern ecumenical movement, whose goal is Christian unity. It brings together churches, denominations and church fellowships in more than 110 countries and territories throughout the world, representing over 500 million Christians and including most of the world’s Orthodox churches, including Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed churches, as well as many United and Independent churches. At the end of 2013, there were 345 member churches. While most of the WCC’s founding churches were European and North American, today most member churches are in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, the Middle East and the Pacific.
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