Pope Francis on June 21, 2018, urged the World Council of Churches (WCC) to embrace a “new evangelical outreach”. His remarks came during the ecumenical meeting to mark the 70thanniversary of the foundation of the WCC at the WCC Ecumenical Center in Geneva.
“We are called to be a people that experiences and shares the joy of the Gospel, praises the Lord and serves our brothers and sisters with hearts burning with a desire to open up horizons of goodness and beauty unimaginable to those who have not been blessed truly to know Jesus,” the Holy Father stressed. “I am convinced that an increased missionary impulse will lead us to greater unity.
“Just as in the early days, preaching marked the springtime of the Church, so evangelization will mark the flowering of a new ecumenical spring. As in those days, let us gather in fellowship around the Master, not without a certain embarrassment about our constant vacillations, and, together with Peter, let us say to him: “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life (Jn 6:68).”
The Pope was joined by the General Secretary, the Reverend Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, and the Moderator, Dr. Agnes Abuom.
“Today, with this visit, we show that it is possible to overcome divisions and distance, as well as deep conflicts caused by different traditions and convictions of faith. There are several ways from conflict to communion,” said WCC General Secretary the Reverend Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit “And of course, we have not yet overcome all differences and divisions. Therefore, we pray together that the Holy Spirit will guide us and unite us as we move on. I was deeply moved the first time I saw this tapestry and sensed its call of Christ to me. I am deeply moved by being here today together.”
“It is more than just a coincidence that today’s Gospel reading is taken from Matthew 6:7-15, the passage about prayer that includes the text of the Lord’s Prayer.,” said WCC Moderator, Dr. Agnes Abuom, “There can hardly be a more basic text for our pilgrimage of justice and peace than this. Praising God’s holy name, praying for God’s kingdom to come that includes God’s care for the daily bread, the forgiveness of debts and the rescue from evil, we are reminded of the daily practice of mercy and care that Jesus wanted to be the hallmarks of Christian life.”
Pope Francis embraced the theme for his one-day ecumenical pilgrimage: Walking, Praying and Working Together.
Walking: “I would suggest a two-fold movement: in and out. In, so as to move constantly to the center, to acknowledge that we are branches grafted onto the one vine who is Jesus (cf. Jn 15:1-8). We will not bear fruit unless we help one another to remain united to him. Out, towards the many existential peripheries of today’s world, in order to join in bringing the healing grace of the Gospel to our suffering brothers and sisters.”
Praying: “we cannot move forward by ourselves because God’s grace is not so much tailored to fit each individual as spread harmoniously among believers who love one another. Whenever we say “Our Father”, we feel an echo within us of our being sons and daughters, but also of our being brothers and sisters. Prayer is the oxygen of ecumenism.”
Working Together: “Here I would like to reaffirm that the Catholic Church acknowledges the special importance of the work carried out by the Faith and Order Commission and desires to keep contributing to that work through the participation of highly qualified theologians. The quest of Faith and Order for a common vision of the Church, together with its work of studying moral and ethical issues, touch areas crucial for the future of ecumenism.”
The Pope cited the Good Samaritan, calling on churches to work together on projects to help others. He reminded those listening that we will be judged by how we love one another.