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Union of Utrecht and Philippine Independent Church celebrate 50 years of full communion

Union of Utrecht and Philippine Independent Church celebrate 50 years of full communion

Photo: Prof. Dr Peter-Ben Smit

18 June 2015

The World Council of Churches (WCC) says it is grateful that the churches of the Union of Utrecht, the Philippine Independent Church (Iglesia Filipina Independiente, IFI), and the Episcopal Church have embarked on a study about Globalization and Catholicity.

Stakeholders gathered at the Ecumenical Centre on 13 June 2105 at a symposium celebrating the 50th anniversary of the concordat between the IFI and churches of the Union of Utrecht.

The title for the joint study is "Catholicity in Times of Globalization. An Ecumenical Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace".

Rev. Dr Martin Robra, senior advisor to WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, conveyed greetings on behalf of the council at the symposium.

He also offered greetings from Rev. Dr Hielke Wolters, WCC associate general secretary for Mission and Unity the newly elected Faith and Order director, Rev. Dr Odair Pedroso Mateus, a Brazilian theologian.

The common project involves also the Mar Thoma Church and the Church of Sweden in cooperation with the WCC.

“The general secretary expresses his sincere gratitude for the vital contributions of the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht, the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) and its partners to the life and work of the WCC for decades,” said Robra.

He welcomed the project taking up the call of the WCC’s 2013 Busan assembly to join in a Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace.

The three full communion partners - the Episcopal Church, the Old-Catholic Church of the Union of Utrecht, and the IFI - in 2006 began a three-year ecumenical project to explore ways to transform the harmful effects of globalization.

The current project title, said Robra, “signals that the common journey of the churches participating in the study process has something important to contribute to theological reflection on the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace.”

“Such a joint initiative also reflects the methods and working style that comes with the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace: the churches walking and working together on their common journey and sharing their insights to the wider fellowship.”

Robra noted that Archbishop Dr Joris Vercammen, Old Catholic Primate and Archbishop of Utrecht of the Old Catholic Church of the Netherlands. writes about the ecumenical spirit in his preface to the book on Catholicity in Times of Globalization.

“Christians from all over the world are brought together one with the other. That is the catholicity of the church,” writes Vercammen. “Even more than common witness, this catholicity is a bond of love that unites Christians from all over the globe.

“Long before the word had become a global village, Christians already were aware of the strength of a ‘global love’ that is the soul of the creation and that was made visible by our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Robra, who is on the teaching faculty at the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey, near Geneva, said that as such the catholicity of the church is centred in the Triune God. It “is lived out in communion with other local churches, representing the one church in their respective places.”

“Unjust worldwide economic structures, disregard for the dignity of human beings and the integrity of creation are all impacting and undermining the lived catholicity of the communion of local churches,” he said.

“Reflections on globalization and catholicity show the intrinsic link between the unity of the church and the unity of humankind.”

WCC member churches in the Philippines

WCC member churches in the Netherlands