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World Council of Churches, Roman Catholic Church Celebrate 40 Years of Ecumenism

The World Council of Churches and the Roman Catholic Church celebrated four decades of cooperation.

Representatives of the World Council of Churches and the Roman Catholic Church celebrated four decades of cooperation and ecumenism this past weekend during the 40-year anniversary consultation of the Joint Working Group.

“The slow but persevering establishment of a relationship in which the World Council of Churches and the Catholic Church have found in one another a trusted partner has been perhaps the most enduring achievement of the past four decades,” a Nov. 21 communiqué from the consultation stated.

The Joint Working Group was established in 1965 following the Second Vatican Council. While first meant as an optional gathering, the JWG proved to play a pivotal role in developing the ecumenical relationship between the two international churches.
“It has proved to be an effective expression of the desire of both parties for an ongoing collaboration and partnership,” the communiqué explained.

Some 28 representatives were present at the consultation, where they assessed the “achievements of the Joint Working Group and its impact on the relationship between the parent bodies” and helped evaluate the methodology of the group as a whole. They also suggested new forms of working together on “possibly church-dividing” issues.

Such issues include bio-ethics; human, civil and religious rights; issues of peace; social justice; healing of memories; human sexuality; and reproduction.

Representatives also stressed that “greater effort is needed in the field of ecumenical formation.” This means understanding the importance of “offering young people opportunities to be exposed to traditions other than their own, especially in shared programmes of formation, mission and service".

Some other future topics to consider include: interreligious dialogue; religious pluralism and, in some places, the increasing absence of God in cultural life; the spread of modern technology and the power of the media; the prevalence of injustice; different forms of violence; and the fear induced by international terrorism.

The two-day JWG consultation was held on Nov. 17-19 at the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey, Switzerland – the site of the first JWG meeting in 1965.

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