2. Unity and Mission
a) The Common Witness of the Churches
is an obstacle to the effective proclamation of the Gospel. For
is the message of reconciliation not denied if Christians live side
by side without themselves being reconciled to each other? All churches
feel the contradiction of this situation. It is one of the reasons
why they are seeking today to re-establish their communion. A common
witness will proclaim the Gospel more effectively. The member Churches
of the World Council of Churches express this intention by their
common life and action in the Council; it has been particularly
underlined by the integration of the International Missionary Council.
The Roman Catholic Church has affirmed the same intention in the
Decrees on Ecumenism (para. 12) and on the Missionary Activity of
witness presupposes ecclesial communion. Therefore it can become
full reality only when the churches will have reached unity in doctrine
and life sufficient to live in communion. Such communion will be
the perfect form of common witness. This does not mean that the
churches cannot already in many respects bear witness together to
the name of Christ. A common witness raises questions with regard
to the central content of the Gospel; it can happen that ecumenical
activities avoid anything which goes beyond practical collaboration.
This tendency must be resisted. All ecumenical work must serve the
purpose of glorifying the name of Christ.
witness in missionary situations calls in particular for a thorough
examination. For this reason the Joint Working Group is of the opinion
that a special working party should as soon as possible be entrusted
with the task of exploring possibilities in this field. Its members
should be so chosen that both the theological and practical aspects
of the problems can be dealt with successfully.
with the non-Christian religions are being discussed afresh in many
churches and it is more and more apparent that the theological problems
concerned with these relationships can be best discussed on an ecumenical
basis. The Joint Working Group heard reports about various meetings
and especially about a consultation held at Kandy, Ceylon (February
27-March 6, 1967) on the Dialogue with non-Christian religions'.
The consultation had been organized by the World Council of Churches,
but was attended also by a number of participants named by the Vatican
Secretariat for non-Christian religions. The Joint Working Group
feels unanimously that such contacts need to be continued and increased.