Representatives of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Roman Catholic Church met in Malta from 31 October to 5 November in the final consultation of their Joint Working Group before the 10th Assembly of the WCC convenes at Busan, Republic of Korea in October 2013. The group is preparing a report on relations between Roman Catholics and the WCC since the 9th Assembly in February 2006.
The Joint Working Group, created in 1965 by the Vatican and the WCC Central Committee, is the official forum linking the two world Christian bodies “to initiate, evaluate and sustain collaboration” between the WCC and the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity. Prime topics of discussion in recent years have included spiritual life, shared values in ecumenical dialogue, the global economy, youth and migration.
An account of the 2011 plenary meeting appears in the Communiqué of the Joint Working Group (JWG). It reports that in Malta “the JWG members witnessed a fresh spirit of ecumenical openness and cooperation on this predominantly Catholic island, not least because of a common response to the steady arrival of migrants.”
Both the harvesting of the fruits of many years of ecumenical dialogue and attention to the important role of shared spiritual life and values for ecumenism are vital for the future of the ecumenical movement and progress towards the goal of visible unity.
The group also visited the President of the Island, Dr George Abela, in the presidential palace in the capital, Valetta. Recalling the images of the recent Day of Reflection and Prayer for Peace in Assisi, the president underlined the role of religious leaders in the support of the peaceful resolution of conflicts and encouraged the ecumenical cooperation of Christian churches. Societies need the inspiration that unity in diversity is possible. Churches need to support Europe in the search for common values in this moment of the financial crisis.
On the last evening, the JWG participated as special guests at a concert “Singing for Peace” at St. John’s Co-Cathedral. Co-moderators and JWG members from different regions and Christian traditions led prayers for peace during this event.