3. Laity and Unity
a) Conversations on the Role of the Laity
role of the laity in the ecumenical movement, which statements on
both sides have constantly affirmed, has received high priority
in the Joint Working Group's discussions from the beginning. The
first informal discussion on laity questions took place at Glion,
Switzerland, in January 1964, jointly sponsored by the Permanent
Committee for International Congresses of the Lay Apostolate of
the Roman Catholic Church (COPECIAL) and the Division of Ecumenical
Action of the World Council of Churches. This meeting was followed
up by an Ecumenical Consultation at Gazzada, Italy, in September
1965, sponsored by COPECIAL and the Laity Department of the World
Council of Churches.
has been co-operation also in the program planning of the forthcoming
Third World Congress for the Lay Apostolate (Rome, October 1967),
to which the various churches, the World Council of Churches, and
also the World Alliance of YMCA's and the World YWCA have been invited
to send observer-consultants. These and other non-Catholic lay observer-consultants,
proposed by national Catholic delegations to the Congress, will
fully participate in the discussions and seminars.
establishment of the Pontifical Council on the Laity with a permanent
secretariat in Rome has opened up new possibilities. On the one
hand, the type of co-operation begun with COPECIAL can continue
on a more official and permanent basis, Since COPECIAL'S work will
be absorbed by the Consilium after the forthcoming World Congress;
the Consilium, at its first meeting, favorably considered tentative
plans suggested by the WCC Laity Department for a further consultation
along the lines of Glion and Gazzada. On the other hand, new forms
of cooperation will be able to develop as soon as the relation of
the Consilium to the various Lay Catholic International Organizations
is clearly structured.
conversation between women at international level began at Vicarello,
near Rome, in October 1965. This was a meeting of lay women, deaconesses,
and religious on the changing role of women and forms of service
in the Churches. It was sponsored by the Secretariat for Unity and
the WCC Department on Co-operation between Men and Women in Church,
Family and Society. The conversations have been continued between
groups from COPECIAL and the WCC Department during preparation for
the Third World Congress of the Lay Apostolate.
In June 1966, a meeting for women from various organizations on
either side, was held at Crêt-Bérard, Switzerland,
- Ecumenical education at "grass-roots" level.
- Possibility of common action through joint projects of service
to humanity, etc.
meeting was sponsored by the WCC Department on Co-operation and
the Conference of Catholic International Organizations; they also
sponsored, from June 19-24, 1967, a Conference at Taizé,
bringing together some 100 women, most of them national executives
of Church-related organizations. The theme of the Conference was
"Christian Women - Co-artisans of a Changing Society."
c) Education - General and Religious
There are many aspects in the field of Christian education which
need discussion and present opportunities of collaboration. Roman
Catholic observers have already participated in the Joint Study
Commission on Education sponsored by the World Council of Churches
and the World Council of Christian Education. Several significant
regional developments have taken place. The Joint Working Group
is agreed that closer contacts should be established, and is exploring