On 2 December, Bishop Brian Farrell, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, spoke at a webinar organized by the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches on the theme "The whole people of God: the roles and ministries in the church”. The meeting was moderated by Revd Dr Stephanie Dietrich of the Church of Norway and attended by participants from around the world. In his address Bishop Farrell responded to two papers presented in the first part of the meeting. In the first presentation Revd Dr Susan Durber, Reformed, from UK, addressed the theme of “The Role of Women in the Church” and in the second Professor Dr Paul Meyendorff, Orthodox, from the USA spoke on “The Threefold Ministry”. Both presentations focused on how the two themes which continue to divide churches were addressed in the responses to the Faith and Order convergence text “The Church: Towards a Common Vision” (TCTCV), published in 2013.
In his response Bishop Farrell pointed out that despite remaining divergences, TCTCV marks progress in the dialogue on ministry in the Church, as commented in the official Catholic response. Without being in agreement on specific forms of ministry, all the churches recognise that ministry belongs to the nature of the Church and is necessary for its mission. There is also an increasing convergence on the threefold ministry of bishop-priest-deacon as developed in the Church from the apostolic era. As to the ordination of women, churches generally agree that this dividing question needs to be addressed within the framework of the wider issue of the place of women in the Church and on the basis of the baptismal priesthood of all the faithful.
The webinar was the third in a series of eight prepared by the Faith and Order Commission of the WCC on the theme of ecclesiology. The series aims at energizing the ecumenical dialogue on the Church following the recent Faith and Order publication “What Are the Churches Saying About the Church? Key Findings and Proposals from the Responses to The Church: Towards a Common Vision” (WCC Publications, 2021).