II. MISSION AND UNITY
a) Common Problems
Along the lines of the recommendations made in
the second official report, an exchange of views took place between
representatives of the World Council of Churches, the Secretariat
for Christian Unity, the Congregation for the Evangelization of
Peoples, and other missionary bodies, in April 1963.
This was followed up in 1969 when six representatives
of the World Council of Churches visited a number of the Vatican
offices in Rome, particularly those concerned with missions.
Three Roman Catholics from the Congregation for
the Evangelization of Peoples, the Secretariat for Christian Unity,
and SEDOS (a working party of various missionary orders) were appointed
as consultants to the WCC's Division of World Mission and Evangelism.
Roman Catholics have also participated in the work of the Department
on Studies in Mission and Evangelism.
In its second official report, the Joint Working
Group announced its decision to undertake "a joint study on
the subject of proselytism," a question which it had been concerned
with for some time. A document was sent to specialists by the World
Council of Churches and the Secretariat for Christian Unity with
a request for their comments. In May 1968, Roman Catholic experts
considered the question from the standpoint of their Church. Next,
a joint consultation was held at Arnoldshain, where the document
was revised. The work of revision continued during 1969 until the
September of that year when a consultation took place at Zagorsk.
The document was then modified in the light of comments made at
In the course of this work the form in which the
question was posed was changed. At first the emphasis had been on
distorted forms of evangelism as contrasted with genuine Christian
witness. The more the study proceeded the clearer it became that
our real task was not simply to eliminate wrong methods of evangelism
but rather to reach a position in which it would possible to bear
joint witness, within the limits imposed by our condition as still
The final form of the document was submitted to
the Joint Working Group at its meeting in May 1970. It was adopted
not as a joint declaration but as a study paper for consideration
by the churches in their respective local situations. The Joint
Working Group recommended its publication as such4.
Dialogue with Men of Other Faiths and with Non-Believers
Contacts with the Secretariat for Non-Believers,
mainly in the form of the exchange of observers, became more frequent
and regular from 1967 onwards.
For its part, the World Council of Churches organized
a consultation at Ajaltoun in the Lebanon in March 1970 which brought
together scholars and others experienced in dialogue from the Buddhist,
Christian, Hindu and Muslim faiths. Of the twenty-eight Christian
participants, six were Roman Catholic. Three Roman Catholics also
participated in the consultation in Zurich arranged by the World
Council of Churches in May 1970 to study the theological implications
of the dialogue between men of living faiths.
Christian Medical Commission
The second official report of the Joint Working
Group in 1967 expressed the desire for the establishment of closer
relationships between the various church bodies engaged in medical
work. In fact the cooperation already existing in this area in many
countries makes organized coordination at the world level a matter
of some urgency.
From its inception the Christian Medical Commission
has worked closely with a number of Catholic hospitals, medical
bodies and religious orders.
Three Roman Catholic observers attended the first
annual meeting of the Christian Medical Commission in 1968. In June
1969, on the invitation of the Commission, the Secretariat for Christian
Unity appointed seven Roman Catholic representatives who were coopted
by the Commission as consultants ad personam. These seven representatives
were coopted not in virtue of their membership of a particular organization
but because of their qualifications. They were present at the Commission's
second annual meeting. One of the decisions taken at this meeting
was to call for the establishment of a joint committee to study
possible future forms of Roman Catholic participation in the Christian
Medical Commission. This resolution was conveyed to the Division
of World Service, the bodies responsible for the Christian Medical
Commission on the World Council side It was also conveyed to the
Secretariat for Christian Unity. The resolution was accepted and
a joint committee duly set up, which met in Rome on March 23, 1970,
in Geneva on June 9, and again in Rome of July 31, 1970. It considered
a number of possible forms for cooperation between the Commission
and the Roman, Catholic Church. It has submitted a report to the
respective authorities and this is now under consideration.
World Christian Handbook
The call to cooperation between the churches would
be greatly helped by the existence of a joint statistical work of
reference. Such a reference book is in fact now being compiled and
it is hoped that a World Christian Handbook will be published jointly
in 1972, giving details of all the churches throughout the world.
Conservative evangelicals are cooperating in this project.
Witness and Proselytism." See Appendix II. The is published
in the Ecumenical Review 23, 1 (1971) 9-20.