From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ACNS - Report on Roman Catholic and World Council of Churches

From Worldwide Faith News <>
Date Wed, 05 Jun 2002 12:32:01 -0700

Working Group

ACNS 3011 - ECUMENICAL - 5 June 2002

Meeting of the Joint Working Group of the Roman Catholic Church and the
World Council of Churches


The Director of Ecumenical Affairs and Studies, David Hamid, is a consultant
to the Joint Working Group of the Roman Catholic Church and the World
Council of Churches. This group was formed in 1965 following the Second
Vatican Council and is an important platform for the discussion of a range
of common pastoral, theological and mission concerns between the WCC and the
Roman Catholic Church. 34 of the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion are
members of the WCC. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member. The following
is the communiqui from the recent meeting of the JWG which was held in
Stjdrnholm, Sweden.

The Joint Working Group (JWG) between the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) and
the World Council of Churches (WCC) held a plenary meeting in Stjdrnholm,
Sweden, 24-31 May 2002, under the leadership of the two co-moderators
Archbishop Mario Conti (Roman Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow, Scotland) and
Bishop Jonas Jonson (Lutheran Bishop of Strdngnds, Sweden). This was the
third plenary meeting of the present mandate which dates from the 1998
General Assembly of the World Council of Churches.

The meeting was held at the conference centre of the diocese of Strdngnds.
The members of the working group enjoyed the generous hospitality and were
greatly assisted by the staff at the conference centre, as well by the Revd
Christofer Lundgren, the chaplain to the Bishop of Strdngnds, and two
theological students, Ms Anna Apell and Ms Anna-Karin Holm, who were
stewards to the meeting. The working sessions each day were framed by prayer
in the Chapel of Life at the Conference Centre. Morning prayer included
biblical reflections on living in an interim period.

The representatives of the WCC and the Catholic Church met separately for
half a day at the beginning of the meeting for some specific orientation.
The plenary then came together to share some significant moments which have
affected the lives of the Churches since the last meeting, particularly, the
events of 11 September 2001 and the intensified conflict in the Middle East.

The Revd Dr Konrad Raiser, the General Secretary of the WCC, joined the
meeting for part of the time and gave an extensive update on developments in
the WCC, highlighting the work of the Special Commission on Relations with
the Orthodox Churches.

One of the studies underway in the JWG is on the Ecclesiological
Consequences of Baptism. A sketch of the shape that this study is taking was
presented to the plenary, and the JWG took note of complementary work
underway in the Faith and Order Commission on Baptism.

At last years meeting it was agreed to do some further work on the
ecumenical role of interchurch families and the ecclesiological implications
of marriage between partners of different church traditions. To help focus
on this issue, papers from three perspectives: Roman Catholic, Orthodox and
Uniting Church in Australia were presented and discussed in plenary and
small groups. It was recommended that the study of the Ecclesiological
Consequences of Baptism should include some reflection on the issue of
interchurch marriages, which is affecting the lives of an increasing number
of Christians.

A proposal for a study on Theological Anthropology, which would reflect on
the human person as created in the image and likeness of God, was presented
and through plenary and small group discussion refined the approach that it
would take.

Another study which is under way concerns National and Regional Councils of
Churches and Ecumenical Instruments with particular focus on Roman Catholic
participation in them. A first draft of a paper was presented and discussed
both in plenary and group sessions and a timeline to refine and complete
this work was proposed.

A meeting with representatives of the Christian Council of Sweden enabled
the members to learn something of the stories of the four major church
families in Sweden - Lutheran, Catholic, Orthodox and Free Church - as well
as to as learn of the functioning and programme emphases of this Council.

The subgroup studying The Nature and Purpose of Ecumenical Dialogue received
some direction for the work of its first meeting which will take place in
Geneva in September.

Peter Wallensteen, the Dag Hammarskjvld Professor from the Department of
Peace and Conflict Research of the University of Uppsala, visited the
Working Group and gave a presentation on Global Peace, Global Conflict and
Human Responsibility. Professor Wallensteen highlighted new research on the
trends since 1946 to the present on armed conflicts throughout the world and
on the UN Security Council activity, and commented on the categories of
conflicts and the peace agreements reached since 1988. Small groups also
spent some time reflecting on the Decade to Overcome Violence, the Brussels
Declaration The Peace of God in the World from an inter-religious gathering
called by the Ecumenical Patriarch and the President of the European
Commission in Brussels on 19-20 December 2001 and The Common Commitment to
Peace proclaimed at Assisi on the occasion of the interfaith Day of Prayer
for Peace convened by the Pope on 24 January 2002. The Working Group
considered some avenues for follow up to these initiatives.

The members had several opportunities to encounter the tradition, history
and ecumenical life of the Churches in Sweden. On Sunday, the group visited
Strdngnds Cathedral for a celebration of Baptism, Confirmation and High Mass
according to the tradition of the Church of Sweden. The preacher at the
service was Archbishop Mario Conti. Afterwards, over a festive lunch, the
JWG members met many of the leaders of the diocese of Strdngnds at the
Bishops House. In the evening the group attended the English language Mass
at St Eugenias Catholic Church in Stockholm presided by Bishop Anders
Arborelius, at which Dr Raiser brought greetings. Afterwards a community
meal was enjoyed with the multicultural congregation. Through a visit to a
country parish the group came to appreciate the continuity of the ministry
of the Church of Sweden within the nation, and its institutional diocesan
and parochial life that extends from well before the Reformation, as is
evident in the witness of so many ancient parish churches.

At the end of the meeting the two Co-moderators expressed their gratitude to
the Church of Sweden whose generosity supported the cost of this meeting.
They also thanked the Diocese of Strdngnds and the staff of the Centre for
their presence and support of this meeting.

It is expected that the next plenary meeting will be held from 5-12 May

30 May 2002

The ACNSlist is published by the Anglican Communion Office, London.

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