Pope Francis, in a message released on June 23, recalled the 50th anniversary of the formation of the joint working group between the Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches, an interdenominational organization founded in 1948.

Thanking God for “all that the ecumenical movement has achieved since its beginning over 100 years ago,” Pope Francis called upon the joint working group not to be “inward looking,” but to be “open to all the opportunities and challenges facing the churches today in their mission of accompanying suffering humanity on the path to the Kingdom, by imbuing society and culture with Gospel truths and values.”

“We must recognize, though, that in spite of the many ecumenical achievements of the past half century, Christian mission and witness still suffer due to our divisions,” he continued. “Disagreements on various subjects – in particular anthropological, ethical and social issues, as well as issues related to the understanding of the nature and conditions of the unity we seek – demand further sustained efforts.”

“I encourage the joint working group to further its discussion on crucial ecumenical issues and, at the same time, to promote ways for Christians to testify together to the real, though imperfect, communion shared by all the baptized,” he added. “May we always trust that the Holy Spirit will continue to assist and guide our journey, often in new and sometimes unexpected ways.”



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