World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

Second report of the Joint Working Group

The aim of the present document is to set out briefly the concrete results of the exchanges that have already taken place, and to indicate a vision of the future in which the Joint Working Group foresees the need for constantly more dynamic relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches.

01 January 1967

The Joint Working Group between the Roman Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches has not yet finished its task. It was set up at the beginning of 1965 by mutual agreement between the authorities of both bodies in order .. to work out the principles which should be observed in further collaboration and the me­thods which should be used" (Mandate of the Working Group, see The Ecurnenical Review. 1965. NO.3. pp.171-­173. and the " L'Osservatore Romano" - February 20, 1966. p. 7).

The group has studied the nature of the ecumenical movement, especially the relations between the World Council of Churches and the Roman Catholic Church. We give here some of its conclusions. The field is so wide that it is hardly necessary for the Joint Working Group to explain why it has not completed its task in such a short time. Experience alone will make it possible to say where the real possibilities lie, which the study has glimpsed. Moreover, the relations between Churches are in a state of rapid change. New theological problems are coming to the fore and unforeseen situations are arising.

The relations between the World Council of Churches and the Roman Catholic Church, and the problems involved can be seriously considered only if they are understood as being within the whole ecumenical movement, which is an entirely new phenomenon characteristic of our time. Although the ecumenical movement is some­thing new, the deep realities on which it is based are very old. Christians and the Churches to which they belong are linked together through their faith in Christ, the Saviour of the World, and through their desire to glorify God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. They all share important elements of faith, of sacramental life and of ministry. Above all, they have a common point of reference, the Word of God, witnessed to by the Holy Scripture, which for them is not only an object of study and meditation but a norm for living.

The aim of the present document is to set out briefly the concrete results of the exchanges that have already taken place, and to indicate a vision of the future in which the Joint Working Group foresees the need for constantly more dynamic relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches.

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