“In the two years since the pandemic started, the World Council of Churches has, while mostly working remotely, reoriented its work to equip the world’s churches to address the healthcare and pastoral challenges posed by the pandemic and to minister in the presence of illness, death, and enormous disruption,” he said. “Since churches and the WCC are historically heavily identified with health and healing, a Ministry Support Team was assembled to field the many pastoral questions and concerns that have arisen in local and regional settings.”
He further noted that digital innovations have enabled the WCC’s many programmes to work together virtually with their key constituencies. “A number of important publications have been produced, focusing particularly on equipping the fellowship to respond to the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
The heart of the WCC fellowship remains ecumenical spirituality, as the pandemic has revealed or reinforced our shared vulnerability, Sauca said. “The learning from this pandemic has been of our shared vulnerability—and shared fate—as one humanity,” he said.
We feel more keenly the fragility of human life, he concluded. “Now we all more consciously value the connections we share with each other in family and community, nation and world,” he said. “We evince a new openness to admitting and confronting historic injustices, and a new moral reckoning on race, class, and gender.”
Perhaps the pandemic will seed a new readiness for real social change and commitment to our one humanity in this one world, concluded Sauca. “Let us build on that!” he said. “In partnership with all of you and with all people of good will, we in the fellowship of churches from all over the world hope to contribute to that vital endeavour.”
The discussion, entitled “Ecumenism in a Time of Pandemic: From Crisis to Opportunity,” was attended by students from the WCC Bossey Ecumenical Institute who are beginning a study visit to Rome from 20-27 January.
After an introductory greeting by Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the council, presented a working paper entitled “Ecumenism in a Time of Pandemic: From Crisis to Opportunity” prepared on the basis of a survey amongst the episcopal conferences.
Various ecumenical, ecclesiological and social challenges of the current pandemic were then addressed by Sauca and other speakers.
Watch livestream: Ecumenical panel on “Ecumenism and Pandemic”
Learn more: Ecumenical panel on “Ecumenism and Pandemic”