The World Council of Churches and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) will celebrate 40 years of ecumenism and dialogue with a public event at the Ecumenical Center in Geneva next Thursday.
The Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, general secretary of the largest Protestant council in the world, will open the Nov. 17 event with a brief welcome to the guests. Meanwhile, Archbishop Mario Conti, the co-moderator of the Joint Working Group (JWG) between the two Christian faiths, will introduce the developments and goals of the ecumenical spirit that guided his work.
Ecumenical dialogue between the two churches began in 1965, following the Second Vatican Council. Vatican II, as it is widely known, established various sectors to dialogue with large Protestant bodies, such as the WCC and the Lutheran World Federation; earlier this week LWF representatives met with Pope Benedict XVI to affirm the ecumenical spirit.
Relations between the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) and the Protestant Church are still strained in many ways, especially in Latin America where large Pentecostal revivals are taking place in what were historically Roman Catholic countries. The two churches also continue to differ on critical issues of theology such as justification, ecclesiology and Christology.
However, the relationship has markedly improved in the past four decades, largely through the works of the Joint Working Group.
During their address, speakers from the JWG will spell out the new challenges the two churches face in order to take ecumenism to the next step, and analyze what the JWG can contribute to the growth of ecumenism in decades to come.