Pope to join World Council of Churches anniversary

The Vatican has confirmed Pope Francis will join the World Council of Churches 70th anniversary celebrations in June.

The gathering will take place in Geneva.

The World Council of Churches (WCC) includes 348 member churches across 110 nations.

It is the largest umbrella group of Christian denominations in the world.

Members include most Eastern Orthodox churches, the Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed churches, and several Evangelical denominations.

The Catholic Church is not a member of the WCC, although it sends observers to meetings and events.

The Church has worked closely with the WCC through a Joint Working Group, as well as through participation in specific commissions or practical initiatives since 1965.

WCC leader Rev. Fykse Tveit says the papal visit “will be a very special way of affirming these 70 years of working and praying together for the unity of the Church, and also to find ways for common Christian witness and service for justice and peace in the world”.

He says Francis’s visit will take place at the conclusion of the Central Committee meeting, which happens every two years.

Francis will address participants and pray with them in the ecumenical centre in Geneva.

There will be extensive media coverage, to enable as many people as possible to “see and hear what this visit means for the WCC and for the whole ecumenical movement”.

Francis’s visit marks a “very strong affirmation” by the Pope and by the Catholic Church that “we are actually working together, but not only working, also praying and walking together, which will be the motto of the visit,” Tveit says.


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