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Letter from the WCC General Secretary to the newly-elected Pope

20 April 2005

20 April, 2005



Your Holiness Pope Benedict XVI,

"Grace, mercy and peace be with us from God the Father and from Jesus Christ,
the Father's Son, in truth and love." (2 John 3)

In unison with our Roman Catholic sisters and brothers, we praise our common
Lord Jesus Christ for your election as the Bishop of Rome, the 264th successor of
Peter, the Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church.

We give thanks to our common Lord Jesus Christ for granting the Roman Catholic
Church a new Bishop of Rome, known for his theological integrity and ecclesial
loyalty, his evangelical simplicity and pastoral sensitivity, a successor to Pope John
Paul II and Pope Benedict XV, both known as "Primates of peace".

Your election coincides with the 40th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council,
the great beginning of the modern ecumenical journey within the Roman Catholic
Church.

We pray to our common Lord Jesus Christ, asking that your Pontificate constitute
a time for the Roman Catholic Church to apply, in a renewed commitment,
the teachings and the spirit of ecumenical openness exemplified in the Second
Vatican Council to the life of her faithful and of the whole church.

Through the documents of the Second Vatican Council, the Roman Catholic
Church spoke courageously to her faithful and to the world. Unitatis Redintegratio
emphasized the restoration of unity among churches as a priority and enabled the
Roman Catholic Church to forge new ways of relationships with other Christian
churches. Gaudium et Spes spoke of the church in the modern world, and opened
new ways of common Christian witness to the world.

We pray to our common Lord Jesus Christ, asking that your Pontificate be guided
by the ecclesiological vision of the Second Vatican Council, a vision open to
all ecclesial values present among Christians of other traditions, a vision that has
prompted, encouraged and strengthened the commitment of the Roman Catholic
faithful to the journey towards encountering their sisters and brothers in Christ
and experiencing the real, though imperfect, communion with them.

More recently, interpreting the Second Vatican Council, John Paul II has issued
the encyclical Ut Unum Sint. In this important document, Christian churches have
gratefully acknowledged a spirit of humility, coming out clearly in expressions
like "dialogue of consciences", "dialogue of conversion", and the "acknowledgment,
jointly and to each other, that we are men and women who have sinned".

We pray to our common Lord Jesus Christ, asking that your Pontificate become
a blessed time of dialogue between churches, of dialogue in truth and love, of dialogue
as an exchange of gifts among Christian churches, a dialogue of conversion.

In the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, cooperation between the Pontifical
Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the World Council of Churches has
been strengthened through the Joint Working Group, and through full membership
of the Roman Catholic Church in the Commission on Faith and Order, and
of the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism. The level of trust and
openness that was established has allowed a frank and open dialogue, has contributed
to overcoming difficulties, and has maintained a close cooperation between
the Roman Catholic Church and the fellowship of churches represented by the
WCC.

We pray to our common Lord Jesus Christ, asking that your Pontificate strengthen
existing instruments of working together and initiate new ways of cooperation
between the Roman Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches.

In today's world, where violence, injustice, poverty and the HIV/AIDS pandemic
are devastating so many lives, the concern for transmitting the spiritual resources
of the churches to the world has become an ecumenical pastoral priority.

We pray to our common Lord Jesus Christ, asking that your Pontificate open new
ways for Christian churches to share with one another their spiritual resources and
together bring to the suffering world a message of healing and a message of hope.

In all these, you will find us ready to journey with you, ready to seek with you
responses to the burning questions of our times, ready to witness together to the
saving, liberating, healing and transforming power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

"Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly
far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and
in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen." (Eph. 3:20)

Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia
General Secretary