Pope Benedict XVI: Church’s commitment to Christian unity is irreversible

Pope Benedict XVI received in audience today the secretary general of the World Council of Churches (WCC), Rev. Samuel Kobia, and underscored his will “to work tirelessly to rebuild the full and visible unity of all Christ’s followers” and reassuring that “the commitment of the Catholic Church to the search for Christian unity is irreversible.”

The Holy Father characterized this effort as one of his primary tasks, requiring “concrete gestures which enter hearts and stir consciences, inspiring in everyone that inner conversion that is the prerequisite for all ecumenical progress.”

The Pope recalled how relations between the Catholic Church and the WCC developed during the Second Vatican Council and that in 1965 this led "to the establishment of the Joint Working Group as an instrument of ongoing contact and cooperation.” He also announced that next November “an important consultation on the future of the Joint Working Group will be held to mark the fortieth anniversary of its founding. My hope and prayer is that its purpose and working methodology will be further clarified for the sake of ever more effective ecumenical understanding, cooperation and progress."

The Holy Father expressed his hope that Rev. Tobia's visit to the Holy See "has been fruitful, strengthening the bonds of understanding and friendship between us”, and he said that the Catholic Church is eager to continue cooperating with the World Council of Churches.

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