Joint Working Group

Between the Roman Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches

Plenary Meeting - Rome, 20-27 January 2008


The Joint Working Group (JWG) is the instrument that monitors and promotes collaboration between the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) and the World Council of Churches (WCC). The group met in Rome from 20 to 27 January. This was the first meeting of the JWG in its ninth phase running between the 2006 and the 2013 WCC Assemblies. 

Providing detailed information on the parent bodies was an essential part of the meeting, with particular attention to the Roman Catholic Church. The exposure included visits the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (PCJP), the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers (PCPAHCW), to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) and the Secretariat of State. Sharing among participants, reflecting on the previous mandates of the JWG and a review of the recommendations contained in the Eighth Report informed the discussion.  

Held in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (WPCU), the meeting was nurtured by prayer in the Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant traditions represented by the participants. Pray without ceasing (1. Thess. 5: 13b-18) was the theme of the WPCU that guided the meditations and reflections. 

Under the leadership of the co-moderators, His Eminence Archbishop Nifon of Targoviste (Romania) and His Excellency Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin (Ireland), the group began to discern key areas of concern that need to be addressed in the ecumenical task of promoting Christian unity and in fostering common Christian witness and service. The group proposed suggestions for future work that will be further processed by the group's Executive Committee at its meeting on 16 and 17 May in Geneva. The agenda through 2013 will be finalized when the Joint Working Group again meets in Plenary from 17 to 22 November in Geneva. 

A highlight of the programme was the presentation of the Christian Unity Award by the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement at the Centro Pro Unione jointly to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Commission on Faith and Order. The award was received by His Eminence Cardinal Walter Kasper on behalf of the Pontifical Council and by Rev. Dr John Gibaut, Rev. Dr Thomas Best and Rev. Dr Günter Gassmann on behalf of Faith and Order.  

The Joint Working Group also had the opportunity to engage in a conversation with the WCC General Secretary, Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, on his expectations regarding the co-operation between World Council of Churches and the Roman Catholic Church.  

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI received the group in a private audience, which was followed by the group's participation in the concluding worship for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity held at the Basilica of St Paul's Outside-the-Walls and presided over by His Holiness the Pope. The meeting concluded with a dinner hosted by His Eminence Cardinal Walter Kasper and visits to the Focolare Movement and the St Egidio Community.