Areas of Collaboration
6. The Joint Working Group is unable, on its own,
to deal with all the problems that may confront, it. In order to
develop relations it will require the help of specialized groups:
commissions and consultations. Meetings of this kind have already
taken place on certain subjects between representatives of the World
Council of Churches and the Roman Catholic Church. Other meetings
are planned. In the paragraphs that follow we give a general view
of areas in which collaboration either has begun or can begin.
It is important to note in this context, the difference between:
on the one hand, the work of commissions and consultations set up
directly by the Joint Working Group, and
- or the other hand, the activities of commissions and consultations
set up either by various organizations of the Roman Catholic Church
(for example, the Secretariat for Christian Unity), or by Catholic
organizations (for example COPECIAL) in conjunction with the divisions
or departments of the WCC.
In the first case, reports are sent to the Joint Working
Group. In the second case, reports are submitted to the responsible
bodies, while the Joint Working Group is kept informed.
Faith and Order
Although not the only sphere, the work of "Faith and
Order" (which corresponds in Catholic terminology to the sphere
of doctrine), offers many opportunities for consultations. Collaboration
has already begun. It needs to be deepened.
We should like to put forward the following proposals:
The program of the Faith and Order Commission of the WCC already
envisages carrying out a number of studies on a world or regional
scale. The Joint Working Group is glad to note that Roman Catholic
theologians will take part in several of these study-commissions
Further possibilities for collaboration however, also exist. Parallel
studies could be organised. Certain themes suggested by the Faith
and Order Commission could be studied by groups of Roman Catholics,
while the Secretariat for Christian Unity (or other Roman Catholic
organizations), could in the same way suggest themes to be studied
by groups composed exclusively of theologians invited by the World
Council. The conclusions resulting from the work done would be submitted
to the body which has initiated it - on occasion the World Council,
on occasion the Secretariat for Unity. The Joint Working Group would
be kept informed,
The Working Group proposes that a special theological Commission
be set up jointly by the Secretariat for Unity and the Commission
on Faith and Order, to study the fundamental issues that continually
arise in the dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the
other Churches. After detailed study of matter, the Joint Working
Group suggests as a general theme "Catholicity and Apostolicity."
Common Prayer at Ecumenical Gatherings
The rapid development of the ecumenical movement obliges
us to reflect together on common prayer and common liturgical action.
At its first session the joint Working Group had desired a consultation
on this theme. Since then, two such meetings, jointly organised,
have studied the problems involved and reached certain conclusions
of a provisional nature. They will be found in an appendix attached
to this report. They are put forward for the attention and study
During the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the faithful
of all confessions meet together before the Lord. Further developments
along these lines require common study. The Working Group expresses
the wish that a further consultation be called to examine this subject.
There are possibilities of collaboration open to us in the
mission field; these need to be analyzed with care. At Crêt-Bérard
(near Lausanne, Switzerland) from 5th-10th April, 1965, a first
consultation, jointly organised by the Division of World Mission
and Evangelism and the Secretariat for Christian Unity, took place
to discuss questions of missionary activity. A report was sent to
the Joint Working Group. From this emerges that there are different
areas open for possible collaboration in the future. Further studies
will however be necessary in order to examine the ways opened up
by the Council's Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church,
promulgated at the end of the fourth session.
This report also drew attention to the tensions that sometimes
arise in missionary areas (unworthy forms of proselytism, disloyal
competition, etc.). To remedy such situations the Joint Working
Group is convinced that means must be sought for establishing and
maintaining close contacts between the bodies concerned, and proposes
that action should be taken to this end. It is desirable, for example,
that someone should be appointed by the competent authorities on
each side to study complaints and to initiate efforts to clarify
Church and Society
The problem of the place of the Church in society is one
that faces all Christians in all Churches. Here a vast area requires
study and collaboration. A consultation organized by the WCC's Department
of Church and Society and the Secretariat for Christian Unity took
place in Geneva from 28th-31st March, 1965. The report that was
presented to us encourages us to pursue the cooperation. The Pastoral
Constitution on the Church in the World contains important elements
in this respect. On its part, the World Council of Churches is preparing
a World Conference on Church and Society (1966). A second consultation
is already being organized.
Problems specific to the laity in the Christian world can
also profitably be studied in common. Two meetings have already
taken place between the Permanent Committee for International Congresses
on the Lay Apostolate (COPECIAL, a Roman Catholic organization),
and the WCC's Departments on the Laity. In spite of different theological
approaches, questions concerning the apostolate of the laity and
their training have led to fairly broad agreement. This discussion
led to the following conclusions among others: "While differences
of faith must be respected, we must not do separately any aspect
of laity training which we can do as well or better together"
(Gazzada-Varses, Italy, September 7th-10th, 1965).
A similar desire for joint action was expressed by a group
of women invited by the relevant Department of the WCC (the Department
on Cooperation of Men and Women in Church, Family and Society) and
by the Secretariat for Unity, at a meeting held at Vicarello-Bracciano
from October 22nd-24th, 1965. Those taking part expressed the wish
that further gatherings of this kind should be arranged. Other subjects
that could be discussed include: the re-evaluation of the role of
the unmarried woman, changes in the role of the family, part-time
or full-time work for the married woman, possibilities of service
open to women in church institutions, and possibilities of collaboration
between women of different confessions in the celebration of the
"Women's World Day of Prayer" and of the Week of Prayer
for Christian Unity.
Social Service Activities, Emergency and Development Aid.
Several points of contact clearly exist in the field of social
service and emergency and development aid. The organizations concerned
already collaborate to a large extent. The Joint Working Group notes
with satisfaction the ever-increasing collaboration between the
various relief organizations of the Roman Catholic Church and the
Division of Interchurch Aid, Refugee and World Service of the WCC.
It suggests that further possibilities of collaboration should be
studied, especially with regard to emergency situations and disasters,
but also with regard to long-term projects for combating hunger
and poverty. The Joint Working Group recommends that consultations
should be organized to study present possibilities of collaboration
in the sphere of social service activities, emergency and development
aid. At these meetings, not only should possibilities of immediate
collaboration be studied, but attention should above all be paid
to the spiritual inspiration and Christian responsibility that form
the basis of all cooperation. The first meeting of this kind has
already taken place from January 16th-2oth, 1966 in Geneva.
The International Field
This field requires the most urgent collaboration on the
part of all. It would be of the greatest value to Christians engaged
in international affairs if they could reach common convictions
concerning the basis for action in this whole field. Joint Working
Group therefore hopes to be able to organize in the not too distant
future a consultation on the Christian responsibility in international
affairs. This aspect should be given priority of study.
Catholic International Organizations
The relations between Roman Catholic international organizations
and the various departments of the WCC present particular problems.
Which Catholic organization corresponds to which WCC department?
The Joint Working Group has begun to study methods aimed at establishing
contacts which will lead to fruitful cooperation.