Index > Interconfessional Dialogues > JWG > 2nd Second Official Rep. | CONT. > Part II, 4
   I. GENERAL REMARKS - select
   2. UNITY AND MISSION - select
   3. LAITY AND UNITY - select
   4. Service to Humanity
   6. BIBLE TRANSLATION - select


4. Service to Humanity

a) Peace and International Social justice

It is obvious that Christians have a responsibility to engage in the task of promoting justice and peace among peoples and nations. They proclaim the Gospel of peace: Jesus-Christ who has reconciled the world with God. This message obliges them also to act as peace-makers among men. Common action can often make these efforts more convincing and effective.

Different fields of collaboration need to be distinguished. In the first place there are long-term efforts in favor of international social justice: common study, the working out of development programs, the influencing of public opinion, education, etc. In July 1966, the World Council of Churches held its Conference on Church and Society; the problems connected with the plea for international social justice were at the center of the discussion and the participants called attention again and again to the need for close co-operation between the Roman Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches. On January 5, 1967, the Pontifical Commission on Justice and Peace was established, and when in April 1967, it met for its first session, it expressed the desire to work as closely as possible with the World Council of Churches. An exploratory ecumenical committee, consisting of representatives of the Pontifical Commission and of an ad hoc WCC committee met in June 1967 in order to examine the possibilities of collaboration existing in this field.

The Joint Working Group heard reports on these developments. It welcomes this new and promising collaboration.

b) Service Activities: Emergency Relief, Development Aid and Medical Work

The possibilities of collaboration are not limited, however, to these long-range tasks of planning and education; they exist also at the operational level: that of immediate relief in emergency situations, of development projects, service to refugees, medical work, etc. Many organizations are at work and the first conversations have shown that more can be planned and carried out together than has hitherto been done. Representatives of various Roman Catholic organizations (Caritas Internationalis, Catholic Relief Services, Misereor, Pontificia Opera Assistenza) and of the World Council of Churches (more particularly its Division of Inter-Church Aid, Refugee and World Service) have met twice for consultations (January 26-28, 1966, and January 21-23, 1967), and these first contacts have already led to increased collaboration. The most concrete example is common action to meet the famine in India. In February 1966 both the World Council of Churches and the Roman Catholic Church addressed an urgent appeal to the churches to make special efforts to overcome the danger threatening India. As a consequence, the churches in some countries combined forces to raise the necessary means, and an inter-church agency was formed in India for the distribution of goods (AFPRO). Other similar examples could be mentioned; the conversations helped to clarify other projects, eg, in Africa and Vietnam. The churches' relation to FAO and other organizations were also discussed.

The Joint Working Group received these reports with deep appreciation. It is of the opinion that the conversations and, more especially, the common projects should be continued. The initial conversations between the Pontifical Commission on Justice and Peace and the World Council of Churches do not make the efforts of this Working Party superfluous; rather they add to their importance. The Joint Working Group is particularly convinced that closer links should be established between the various church organizations which are active in medical work. The Working Party will give special attention to this field in future.

c) Peace and International Affairs

The struggle for peace and justice calls for common action of still another kind. The churches will speak where peace is in immediate danger; they will seek to make their voice heard where decisions are being taken. Both the Roman Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches recognize the importance of this task. Through statements and other means, they seek to remind those on whom the cause of peace most depends, of their responsibility. They are both active, though in a different way, within the United Nations, etc. Collaboration in this field is still rather restricted. The task is somewhat differently conceived on the two sides, and structures need still to be found for joint or parallel action of the churches on a world level. But the task is of such importance that common witness in this respect cannot be postponed. The Joint Working Group is of the opinion that the possibilities in this field should continue to be actively explored.


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