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Calling for unity
People look to churches to speak with one voice, says WCC committee moderator


Photo by Peter Williams/WCC
Forty years of dialogue between the World Council of Churches and Roman Catholic Church was celebrated in November. Left, World Council  of Churches central committee moderator, Catholicos Aram I, enjoys a moment with Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.   (Photo by Peter Williams/WCC)
The Roman Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches must address issues of common concern with a united voice to meet the expectations of people in a world of uncertainties and tensions, WCC Central Committee Moderator Catholicos Aram I said at a consultation in November on the role of a consultative group between the two bodies.

"People are increasingly expecting the churches' united voice," said Aram I. Such action by the Joint Working Group of the Roman Catholic Church and the WCC could provide a framework for joint action that would make a difference in many respects, he said.  Founded in 1965 after the Second Vatican Council, the JWG is a consultative body entrusted with initiating, evaluating and sustaining the many forms of collaboration between its two parent bodies.

Speaking at the same event, the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Walter Kasper, affirmed that, "without danger of betraying our faith or our conscience, we could already today do much more together than we actually do."

Kasper’s agenda for joint action included sharing biblical, spiritual and liturgical resources and cooperating in theology, mission, ecumenical formation, cultural and social witness, development and environmental protection. "Above all, there is a need for spiritual ecumenism," he said.

Renewed ecumenical enthusiasm needs to clarify "the [theological] foundations, the vision, the ways and the practice of the ecumenical movement," Kasper said. "There is no ecumenism without conversion."

“Institutional reform,” he said, is "an essential presupposition and condition for ecumenical progress." Looking ahead, the Rev. Samuel Kobia, WCC general secretary said, “We need to renew and reaffirm our ecumenical vision in language which is convincing and compelling for the churches in the 21st century."

The co-moderators of the JWG, Catholic Archbishop Mario Conti and Lutheran Bishop Jonas Jonson  participated in a public event of celebration and thanksgiving on the group’s 40th anniversary.