Pope and WCC share aspirations for unity, justice and peace
Pope Francis and the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, Rev Olav Fykse Tveit have discussed “new opportunities for Christian unity today”, focused on working together for peace, justice and environmental protection in a meeting held at Vatican on Friday. The two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the path of full and visible communion among Christians of different denominations. They also talked about peace in the Middle East and on the Korean peninsula, about economic justice and about an upcoming summit of religious leaders to press for urgent action on climate change.
The Geneva based World Council of Churches is a fellowship of 345 member churches from over 110 different countries. In his words to the General Secretary of WCC, Pope Francis thanked the organisation for its work over the past half century in overcoming mutual misunderstanding and promoting sincere ecumenical cooperation. If Christians ignore the call to unity which comes from the Lord, he said, “they risk ignoring the Lord himself.” Though the road to unity is still an uphill struggle, he said, the Spirit encourages us to move forward in trust.
Dr.Tveit also spoke about Pope Francis’s planned visit to Jerusalem where he will meet with the Ecumenical Patriarch Barholomew I. Tveit said, “We heartily appreciate that you are going there as a pilgrim at a time urgently calling for a sustainable conclusion to the peace process.” For many years the WCC has worked and prayed for peace in Jerusalem, he said. “We know that religion and faith play a significant role in the conflict in what should be a city of peace. We believe that only a peace with justice, with a shared city of three religions and Israel and Palestine as two independent states, can there be an end to the occupation and the violence in this region,” Tveit added.
Tveit pointed to the call from the WCC Busan assembly in 2013 asking churches and people of good will to join a pilgrimage of justice and peace. Along with emphasizing the important role of faith leaders in seeking solutions to conflicts in the world, Tveit also spoke about issues of climate change and economic justice as major concerns in the pilgrimage of justice and peace. “The future of humanity is threatened; the poorest among us are already feeling the worst consequences of them. We encourage you and the Roman Catholic Church to be with us in mobilizing a real change of mind, heart and priorities,” he said.
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