The World Council of Churches began its 10th General Assembly in Busan, South Korea today. The assembly, which concludes on November 8th, will reflect on the theme: “God of Life, Lead us to Justice and Peace.”
According to a communique released by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the meeting is held once every seven years. Over 3,000 delegates representing 345 member Churches and Ecclesial communities are participating in the event, as well as representatives of non-member Churches and organizations.
“Shared prayer and a brief biblical reflection will open the daily program, which will take the form of plenary sessions and ecumenical conversations concluding in evening prayer from various Christian traditions,” the communique stated. “One of the main tasks of the Assembly is the election of members of the new Central Committee entrusted with the work of the WCC in the period between the meeting in Busan and the following General Assembly.”
Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, was present at the inaugural session of the Assembly and delivered a message from Pope Francis.
In his message, the Holy Father greeted the representatives gathered as well as assuring the Catholic Church’s continuing cooperation with the World Council of Churches.
“The theme of the Assembly, God of Life, Lead us to Justice and Peace, is above all a prayerful invocation of the Triune God who draws all creation to its fulfillment through the redemptive power of the Cross of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the manifold gifts of the Holy Spirit,” the Holy Father said in his message. “Truly, wherever the gift of life is cherished, and justice and peace prevail, God’s Kingdom is present and his sovereign power is already at work.”
The Pope expressed his hope that the General Assembly will continue to foster a commitment to prayer and cooperation for the good of mankind.
The globalized world in which we live demands of us a common witness to the God-given dignity of every human being and the effective promotion of the cultural, social and legal conditions which enable individuals and communities to grow in freedom, and which support the mission of the family as the fundamental building-block of society, ensure a sound and integral education for the young, and guarantee for all the untrammeled exercise of religious liberty,” he wrote.
The Holy Father went on to say that in faithfulness to the Gospel, all Christians are called to reach out to those who are marginalized from society, in particular, “the poor, the disabled, the unborn and the sick, migrants and refugees, the elderly and the young who lack employment.”
Concluding his message, Pope Francis conveyed his desire that the General Assembly will continue to contribute to a “new vitality and vision” of Christian unity, open to the “promptings of the Holy Spirit.”
Bishop Brian Farrell, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, will head the official Catholic delegation which is made up of 25 members. The members of the delegation represent the Roman Curia, Bishops Conferences, institutes of consecrated life and lay movements.
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On ZENIT’s web page:
For the full text of the Holy Father’s message, go to: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-s-message-to-the-10th-general-assembly-of-the-world-council-of-churches