The description of the function of the JWG given
in the Fourth Report continues to be an adequate indication of
what it is and the way it works. It is intended to enable the
Roman Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches to evaluate
together the development of the ecumenical movement. As before
it will be a joint group with continuity of membership and sufficient
breadth of representation from both sides. As an instrument of
the parent bodies it is in close contact with them and accountable
The Joint Working Group aims primarily at discovering and
assessing promising new possibilities for ecumenical development.
It has the task of stimulating the discussion on the ecumenical
movement and of being a challenge to the parent bodies by proposing
new steps and programs.
The Joint Working Group endeavors to interpret the major
streams of ecumenical thought and action in the Roman Catholic
Church and in the member churches of the World Council of Churches.
It facilitates the exchange of information about the progress
of the ecumenical movement, especially at the local level.
The Joint Working Group seeks to establish collaboration
between the various organs and programs of the Roman Catholic
Church and of the World Council of Churches. In accordance with
the principles and procedures of its parent bodies it encourages
the genuine development of a relation which will facilitate such
collaboration. To do so it draws upon the insights gained from
local experience. As in the past, it remains a consultative group,
not an operative agency. It may be empowered by the parent bodies
to develop and administer programs it has proposed when this is
As the Joint Working Group seeks to initiate and
help keep alive the discussion on the implications of the ecumenical
movement in the Roman Catholic Church and in member churches of
the World Council of Churches, it also seeks the beat means of
communicating its findings and recommendations. An essential aspect
of its task is to share its findings with its parent bodies.
The Joint Working Group seeks to be in contact with a large
number and range of ecumenical organizations and programs, especially
on the local level. It may call upon various offices and programs
of the parent bodies for assistance when special help is needed
in certain areas in the process of collaboration. It also seeks
information and advice from individuals and organizations which
have particular ecumenical experience and competence.
Style of Operation
As the Joint Working Group seeks to meet the needs of the
churches, the style of collaboration must be kept flexible. It
must be adaptable to the various and changing needs. Therefore,
it seeks to keep new structures to a minimum, while concentrating
on ad hoc initiatives, as they are required by the actual developments
within the ecumenical movement. On occasion, of course, particular
projects may call for some structural organization which will
be set up after due authorization. Flexibility of style does not
mean unplanned activity or lack of accountability. Rather it means
more careful attention to the setting of priorities and to the
use of resources.