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Pope Tells World Council That Ecumenism Is a Priority

Discussion in 'Catholic DIR' started by Scott1, Jun 17, 2005.

  1. Scott1

    Scott1 Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]ATICAN CITY, JUNE 17, 2005 (Zenit) - Benedict XVI told a representation of the World Council of Churches that the search for Christian unity is one of his priority commitments.

    The Pope today welcomed the Reverend Samuel Kobia, secretary-general of the WCC, and his entourage, on his first visit to the Vatican since taking up his post in January 2004.

    The delegation included Bishop Eberhardt Rens from the Evangelical Church of Germany, president of the WCC, and Archbishop Makarios of Kenya and Irinoupolis from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa, a member of the WCC Central Committee. Kobia's wife, Ruth, was also on hand.

    In his welcome address, delivered in English, the Holy Father recalled that in "the very first days of my pontificate, I stated that my primary task is the duty to work tirelessly to rebuild the full and visible unity of all Christ's followers."

    "This requires, in addition to good intentions, concrete gestures which enter hearts and stir consciences ... inspiring in everyone that inner conversion that is the prerequisite for all ecumenical progress," he said.

    The heart

    In this connection, "Pope John Paul II often recalled that the heart of the search for Christian unity is 'spiritual ecumenism,'" Benedict XVI said.

    "He saw its core in terms of being in Christ: 'To believe in Christ means to desire unity; to desire unity means to desire the Church; to desire the Church means to desire the communion of grace which corresponds to the Father's plan from all eternity. Such is the meaning of Christ's prayer: 'Ut Unum Sint'" -- that they may be one, said Benedict XVI.

    The Holy Father reaffirmed that "the commitment of the Catholic Church to the search for Christian unity is irreversible," and stressed that he very much wishes to continue cooperation with the WCC.

    The WCC is a fellowship of 347 ecclesial communities in more than 120 countries from virtually all Christian traditions. The Catholic Church is not a member but works cooperatively with the WCC.

    The WCC was formally inaugurated in 1948 in the Netherlands. Relations between the Catholic Church and the WCC, which began with the Second Vatican Council, led to the establishment in 1965 of the Joint Working Group, as a means of contact and cooperation.

    "Next November an important consultation on the future of the Joint Working Group will be held to mark the 40th anniversary of its founding," said the Pope.

    "My hope and prayer," he said, "is that its purpose and working methodology will be further clarified for the sake of ever more effective ecumenical understanding, cooperation and progress."

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  2. Scott1

    Scott1 Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]ATICAN CITY, JUNE 17, 2005 (Zenit) - Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today to the Reverend Samuel Kobia, secretary-general of the World Council of Churches, and his entourage.

    Dear General Secretary,

    "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:2). With these words of Saint Paul, I gladly welcome you and the members of the delegation from the World Council of Churches. After your installation as General Secretary you had planned to visit my beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II. Though this hope was never realized, I thank you for representing the World Council of Churches at his funeral, and I express my gratitude for the message which you sent to me on the occasion of the solemn inauguration of my own ministry as Bishop of Rome.

    Relations between the Catholic Church and the World Council developed during the Second Vatican Council, where two observers from Geneva were present at all four sessions. This led in 1965 to the establishment of the Joint Working Group as an instrument of ongoing contact and cooperation, which would keep in mind the common task of unity in answer to the Lord's own prayer, "that they may all be one" (John 17:21). Next November an important consultation on the future of the Joint Working Group will be held to mark the fortieth anniversary of its founding. My hope and prayer is that its purpose and working methodology will be further clarified for the sake of ever more effective ecumenical understanding, cooperation and progress.

    In the very first days of my Pontificate I stated that my "primary task is the duty to work tirelessly to rebuild the full and visible unity of all Christ's followers." This requires, in addition to good intentions, "concrete gestures which enter hearts and stir consciences … inspiring in everyone that inner conversion that is the prerequisite for all ecumenical progress" ("Missa pro ecclesia," 5).

    Pope John Paul II often recalled that the heart of the search for Christian unity is "spiritual ecumenism." He saw its core in terms of being in Christ: "To believe in Christ means to desire unity; to desire unity means to desire the Church; to desire the Church means to desire the communion of grace which corresponds to the Father's plan from all eternity. Such is the meaning of Christ's prayer: 'Ut unum sint'" (Encyclical Letter "Ut Unum Sint," 9).

    It is my hope that your visit to the Holy See has been fruitful, strengthening the bonds of understanding and friendship between us. The commitment of the Catholic Church to the search for Christian unity is irreversible. I therefore wish to assure you that she is eager to continue cooperation with the World Council of Churches. Again, I offer a special word of encouragement to you, Mr. General Secretary, to the members of the Central Committee and to the entire staff, as you work to lead and renew this important ecumenical body. Please know that you are in my prayers and that you have my unfailing goodwill. "May grace and peace be yours in abundance" (2 Peter 1:2).

    [Original text: English]
     
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