On 22-23 March 2023, a delegation of the new leadership of the World Council of Churches (WCC) visited Rome and the Vatican, represented by H.E. Bishop Dr Heinrich Bedford-Strohm (Lutheran Church of Germany), Moderator of the Central Committee, Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay (Reformed Church of South Africa), General Secretary, and Prof. Dr Vasile-Octavian Mihoc (Romanian Orthodox Church), Program Executive for Ecumenical Relations and Faith and Order.
On Thursday, 23 March, the delegation, accompanied by Cardinal Kurt Koch, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity (DPCU), and Rev. Dr Andrzej Choromanski, responsible for multilateral relations, was received in a private audience by Pope Francis. During the conversation, in reference to the Pope’s message sent to the WCC’s 11th Assembly, which took place in Karlsruhe, Germany, last September 2022, the General Secretary expressed particular gratitude for the Holy Father’s emphasis on the importance of the common vocation of all Christians to be a visible sign of reconciliation and unity in a world still afflicted by discord, conflict and disunity. On behalf of the member churches of the WCC, the General Secretary expressed their appreciation for the participation of the Catholic Church in the work of the WCC, including various commissions and several joint projects. The Holy Father reaffirmed the irrevocable commitment of the Catholic Church to pursue the path of Christian unity with other churches in fidelity to Christ’s call, and to continue to work together with the WCC in collaboration with various Dicasteries of the Roman Curia.
Following the audience, the delegation met with representatives of some of the Dicasteries that sustain working relationships with the WCC, including the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, the Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue, and the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. The meeting, held at the offices of the DPCU, provided an opportunity to discuss a number of issues of common interest, with a focus on the possibility of further strengthening future collaboration as the WCC enters a new phase of its work following the recent Assembly and the election of the new governing bodies. Special attention was given to discussing ecumenical opportunities for the celebration of the 1700th anniversary of the first ecumenical council (Nicaea 325) in 2025, and for revitalizing, in the ecumenical movement, the theme of the visible unity of the Church in terms of our common mission and witness in the world.
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