REPORT ON ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH COLLABORATION
One of the important aspects of the RCC/WCC relationship
is the effort that it makes to relate to the important events
of each other´s life and to benefit from each other´s
work. This can be the occasion of mutual theological exchange,
of enrichment and deepening of fraternal contact. Several such
events are immediately before us and the collaboration over the
past year has included preparation for them.
a) The Fifth Assembly of the World Council of Churches
Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity has sent copies of
the material for the Assembly preparatory booklet to the ecumenical
commissions of all episcopal conferences for appropriate use
by local Roman Catholic and ecumenical groups.
Secretary of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity,
Mgr Charles Moeller, is a member of the Assembly Preparatory
Secretariat has been in contact with the local Indonesian Roman
Catholic Church authorities to provide the necessary information
and to encourage and support the efforts of collaboration in
both the preparation and celebration of the Assembly which are
under consideration by the Indonesian Episcopal Conference and
the Indonesian Council of Churches.1
Secretariat has received and is acting on the World Council
of Churches invitation to send observers to the Assembly. It
is understood that while the categories which are obligatory
on member churches sending delegates do not apply strictly in
the case of observers, nevertheless they will be taken into
account when making the selection.
is further envisaged that a Fourth Official Report of the Joint
Working Group will be presented at the Assembly, and a Roman
Catholic will be invited to comment upon it.
The Joint Working Group welcomes this evidence of a larger
participation by the Roman Catholics in the preparation and celebration
of the Assembly.
The Synod of Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church (September-October
The Synod, on the theme "The Evangelization of
the Contemporary World", has deep implications for the whole
life within the Roman Catholic Church. Therefore, it was significant
that in September 1973, the World Council of Churches was asked
to react to the first draft of the Synod working document at the
time it was sent to all episcopal conferences. This World Council
of Churches' reaction was then submitted along with the replies
from the episcopal conferences to the Secretariat of the Synod which
is responsible for the final version of the document that will be
used in the Synod sessions.
An invitation has been sent to the General Secretary
of the World Council of Churches to come to Rome on the occasion
of the Synod in order to address its members at a special gathering
with a view to communicating and sharing the insights of the World
Council of Churches and its member churches on aspects of world
mission and evangelism.
Holy Year 1975
Following a custom which originated in the 13th century,
the Roman Catholic Church will celebrate the year as a Holy Year.
When announcing the event the Pope expressed the wish that this
year be a period of renewal and reconciliation. For the Roman Catholic
Church the Holy Year is also an occasion when the faithful make
pilgrimages to Rome and special indulgences are granted. This aspect
of the Holy Year presents difficulties to other Churches; other
Christians do not have the emphasis on Rome nor the teaching on
indulgences. These issues need to be faced in open discussion.
There is no doubt, however, that the forthcoming Holy
Year will place more emphasis than earlier years on the reconciliation
among Christians of all traditions. Stimulated by the discussion
in the Joint Working Group in 1973 the Secretariat for Promoting
Christian Unity has been able to help notably in developing the
ecumenical aspects of the Holy Year preparations. The Roman Catholic
Committee in charge of the preparations for the Holy Year has now
an ecumenical sub-committee chaired by Mgr Charles Moeller.
The Joint Working Group is encouraged by the considerable
efforts being made by the commission responsible for the ecumenical
aspects of the Holy Year to develop its ecumenical dimension. They
indicate a promising beginning of a convergence of views for the
future. Where the themes of reconciliation and renewal are being
emphasized in the celebration of the Holy Year, ecumenical collaboration
may already take place. This is all the more significant in the
year when the member churches of the World Council of Churches are
concerning themselves with the theme of the Fifth Assembly, "Jesus
Christ Frees and Unites".
The Survey and Analysis
In order to carry out a process of re-appraisal of
the WCC/RCC relationship and of its role, the JWG in 1973 asked
for a survey and analysis of the problems facing the churches as
they carry out their mission and the consequences of these problems
for the ecumenical situation. The study was also to include an analysis
of the various types of ecumenical cooperation which have come into
being in the course of recent years.
The first step was a questionnaire sent by the World
Council to councils of churches in approximately twenty countries
and the Secretariat to ecumenical commissions in the same countries.
The results were then used in order to prepare two reports, one
on each side. This was done with a certain amount of coordination
both in the local situations and especially between the authors
of the reports, Fr Jean de la Croix Bonadio and Reverend Ivan Gould.
These reports were discussed at a small joint consultation
held in Geneva, February, 1974. They were then, together with the
recommendations formulated by this consultation, submitted to the
Joint Working Group as basic material for its consideration for
future relationships and programs.
In order to make known fairly widely the results of the joint
survey, the JWG requested that
(a) analysis of the survey and discussion on it be
published in an appropriate form, and
(b) six of its members be asked to give reactions
to this joint analysis in the form of brief essays.
Sodepax has continued to function as a joint liaison
service between the RCC and the WCC, acting as a catalytic agent
for Christian cooperation for justice, development and peace.
Sodepax is involved, together with the Pontifical
Commission justice and Peace and the Commission on the Churches'
Participation in Development, in promoting thinking about development
as the midpoint of the Second Development Decade approaches. The
publication of Church Alert as an information service for the churches
and groups forms part of this effort as does the recent survey of
ecumenical agencies on the national and regional levels and of their
activities. joint staff discussions between the two commissions
are planned and a series of regional consultations.
The Asian Cultural Forum on Development (ACFOD) is
an interreligious attempt at researching and studying situations
in Asia from the viewpoint of development and economic justice.
It has sought to identify problems, to define national priorities
and decide strategies and planning for regional and interregional
cooperation. In accordance with the original plan, the project was
initiated by Sodepax and is progressively being handed over to the
control of local groups.
Northern Ireland. Here Sodepax has tried over the
past three years to act as a catalytic agent. At Pentecost in 1973
there was the world-wide Ecumenical Initiative of Understanding
and Prayer for Northern Ireland jointly promoted by the SPCU, the
Pontifical Commission justice and Peace, and the World Council of
Churches and involving churches throughout the world. In November
1973, there was a small informal meeting in France which gathered
24 Catholics and Protestants from Ireland and the Continent for
information, joint reflection on the role of Christians in conflict
situations, and mutual encounter in an ecumenical atmosphere. In
a. period of growing tension and confrontation between the two communities,
plans are -being discussed with the Irish churches for a follow-up
program in Ireland.
f) Other Collaboration
Faith and Order
(i) Since 1968, Roman Catholic theologians have
been members of the Faith and Order Commission. Their membership
represents approximately 10% of the Commission and they are involved
in all Faith and Order studies. At present, the three major studies
a) "Giving Account of the Hope
that is Within Us", an attempt to articulate the Christian
hope in contemporary terms. The Secretariat for Promoting Christian
Unity has transmitted an invitation to the ecumenical commissions
of the episcopal conferences to join in this study process. Roman
Catholics are also involved in several local groups.
b) "Concepts of Unity and Models
of Union" a study that focuses on the nature of the unity
we seek. This study was the theme of a conference held in Salamanca
in September 1973, and several Roman Catholics were present. One
of the major papers at the conference was given by a Roman Catholic
c) "The Ministry", a study
on the ordained ministry in ecumenical perspective. The Faith
and Order Secretariat has convened several consultations to foster
common understanding in this field. Participation of Roman Catholic
theologians has been welcomed in these consultations.
(ii) Week of Prayer. For several years, a joint
WCC/RCC group has been responsible for preparing the material
to be used as a help in this annual observance. Since 1972, a
particular local committee has prepared the initial material and
a small consultation of WCC/RCC has edited the material for international
use. A group in Melbourne, Australia prepared the initial material
for the Week of Prayer 1975, and the Carribean Conference of Churches
is preparing it for 1976.
(iii) Triennial of the Faith and Order Commission,
July-August, 1974, at Accra, Ghana. Two major themes were dealt
with: "Giving Account of the Hope that is Within Us"
and "The Unity of the Church". Two presentations were
given by Roman Catholics.
The Conference and the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism
(i) The new constitution of the Commission on World
Mission and Evangelism offers the possibility of a consultative
or affiliative relation of various groups to the Conference. It
was framed with a view to including also the possible cooperation
of Roman Catholic participation of religious orders active in
mission. This was taken up on the Roman Catholic side and the
Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity in consultation with
the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, acting through
its advisory group of major superiors of religious orders, Consilium
18, appointed four congregations, two of men and two of women
to have a consultative relationship with the Conference. This
is an immediate step which it is hoped will permit better communication
and exchange of information and assist any future collaboration
that may be considered appropriate. Further, by the same process
three persons have been appointed as observer consultants for
a three year period to the regular meetings of the Commission
on World Mission and Evangelism. In addition, the SPCU and SEDOS
also continue to be represented by one observer consultant.
(ii) A seminar was held in Rome in March 1974 which
gathered a number of Roman Catholic theologians and missiologists;
in order to respond to selected themes from the "Salvation
Today" study and the Bangkok Conference. Two CWME staff members
also took part. Summaries of the group discussion have been sent
to CWME as a response and contribution to the "Salvation
Christian Medical Commission
(i) Two small meetings have been held at the request
of the Christian Medical Commission to reflect on the nature of
the Christian ministry of healing and the role of the Church in
health and medical work. A Roman Catholic observer has taken part
in both. Because of the amount of collaboration in national medical
secretariats and in health programs in a number of places, it
is important that there be convergence in understanding of the
Christian responsibility in these fields.
(ii) Since Sister Gilmary Simmons has come to the
end of her second term as a staff consultant with the Christian
Medical Commission, and is due to return to work with her religious
congregation, an effort is being made to find another Roman Catholic
sister who is also a doctor of medicine and who could be recommended
to the authorities for appointment as a consultant for a term
of eighteen months.
Dialogue with other Faiths and Ideologies
Roman Catholic scholars have participated regularly
in the WCC program on Dialogue with People of Living Faith and
Ideologies. Further important contacts have been made this year
through the visit of Cardinal Pignedoli and staff members of the
Secretariat for Non-Christian Religions to Geneva, as well as
through the visit of Cardinal Koenig and staff members of the
Secretariat for Non-Believers. These were followed by a visit
to Rome by World Council staff. Staff consultations of this kind
may be expected to continue.
There is already an important mutual exchange of
information and a certain coordination of some programs. The Joint
Working Group encourages the continuance and, as appropriate,
the development of the contacts and coordination and recommends
investigation of some possible joint programs in the field of
Church and Society
The study on "The Future of Man and Society
in a World of Science-Based Technology" which has been going
since 1970 concluded this year with a conference in Bucharest,
June-July, 1974. In view of its importance, several Roman Catholic
observer consultants were present and one of the major presentations
was made by a Roman Catholic.
Informal staff consultations between the Laity Council
of the Roman Catholic Church and the Program Unit III on Education
and Renewal of the World Council of Churches continue to be held
on an average of twice a year.
(i) In June 1974, in Berlin, the WCC Program Unit
III organized a conference on the theme of "Sexism in the
1970s: Discrimination Against Women", in which several Roman
Catholics participated. The report of this conference along with
results from the Pontifical Roman Catholic Study Commission on
Women in Society and the Church, when they are available, will
be considered in the context of one of the staff consultations
between the Laity Council and Unit III to see what collaboration
is feasible in this area, particularly with a view to the observance
of 1975 as the "International Year of Women".
(ii) Arrangements are in hand for the Unit III Laity
Council consultation on new trends in laity formation to be held
in Assisi in September 1974. As well as providing for sharing
experiences and critical evaluation of approaches over recent
years, it is hoped that the consultation will contribute to ecumenical
thinking and further exchange and help to establish a network
of contact and collaboration. It would also contribute towards
the Fifth Assembly and meetings of the Laity Council organized
in Rome as part of the program of the Holy Year 1975.
(iii) A staff consultation, to be held at the end
of 1974, will explore the implications of the survey and analysis
prepared for the 1974 Joint Working Group meeting to discover
what they mean for ongoing collaboration between the WCC Program
Unit on Education and Renewal and the RC Laity Council,
The contact between the WCC Unit on Education and
Renewal and the various departments of the Roman Curia concerned
with education continues. At the third consultation of this kind,
which was held in June 1974, representatives from the Unit III
and from the Theological Education Fund met with representatives
from the Congregation for Catholic Education, the Congregation
for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Congregation for the Clergy,
the Laity Council, the Pontifical Commission justice and Peace
and the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity. Among the topics
discussed were the concerns for education which will be treated
at the Fifth Assembly of the WCC. It was recommended that, at
the next staff consultation to be held in the Spring of 1975,
this topic be the principal subject of discussion.
At the next plenary meeting in February 1975, the
Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity will take up the first
draft of a document on ecumenism in preaching and catechetics.
The JWG recommends that the WCC be invited to make a contribution
towards the preparation of this document.
The Joint Working Group notes the considerable amount
of Roman Catholic participation in the Ecumenical Institute of
the WCC through the form of guest lecturers, seminar group leaders
Service and Relief
Staff contacts between the Pontifical Council Cor
Unurn and CICARWS, together with an exchange of information and
the coordination of some aspects of programs, have continued.
The JWG wishes to encourage the intensification of these contacts
with a view to more effective coordination.
On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Declaration
of Human Rights in December 1973, the President of the Pontifical
Commission Justice and Peace and the General Secretary of the
World Council of Churches published a declaration. The Pontifical
Commission Justice and Peace is now preparing a document on human
rights and the Commission of Churches on International Affairs
of the WCC has been giving major emphasis to this subject through
a series of regional consultations and a world consultation, to
be held in October 1974, which is hoped to give further impulses
to re-thinking the issues involved in human rights. The JWG welcomes
the efforts of the staffs of both commissions in promoting discussion
and collaboration in this field.
Councils of Churches
On the Roman Catholic side, the SPCU has a document
on local ecumenism in preparation. It aims at giving orientations
for Roman Catholic relations to regional, national and local councils
of churches as well as other forms of ecumenical collaboration.
It will be made available in the near future.
In 1971 the joint Working Group initiated a survey
on Roman Catholic participation in national and local councils.
Since that time further developments have taken place. Therefore,
the Joint Working Group suggests that another survey be made to
review and assess these developments.
Service 24 (1974/II) 1-5]
This was before
the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches meeting
in Berlin in August 1974, which, due to various circumstances,
had to change both the place and the date of the Fifth Assembly.
It is now to be held in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 23-Dec. 10, 1975.