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Pope Francis during an ecumenical meeting at the World Council of Churches in Geneva in June 2018 Pope Francis during an ecumenical meeting at the World Council of Churches in Geneva in June 2018  (AFP or licensors)

WCC looks to its 11th General Assembly with call for an "ecumenism of the heart"

The World Council of Churches prepares its 11th General Assembly in Karlsruhe, Germany, with a call for an “ecumenism of the heart” in a broken world.

By Lisa Zengarini

The World Council of Churches (WCC) has published a 24-page Reflection on the theme of its 11th General Assembly to take place in Karlsruhe, Germany, from 31 August to 8 September 2022. The text, which is the result of the work of an international group drawn from different regions and confessional traditions, is intended as a resource for Churches and Christians worldwide facing new pastoral challenges related to the current the COVID-19 pandemic, present world uncertainty, the ambivalences of the digital revolution, climate change, social injustice and rising xenophobia and racism.

The General Assembly meets every eight years in a different town and was originally planned in September in 2021 on the theme “Christ’s Love Moves the World to Reconciliation and Unity”, but due to the COVID-19 it has been postponed to next year.

Pilgrimage of justice and peace

During the 2022 event, world Churches are expected to continue the Pilgrimage of justice and peace they started in 2013 at their 10th assembly in Busan (South Korea) and to discuss the next steps of their journey, focusing for the first time on the “love of God, the Holy Trinity, a love revealed in Christ; and, through the power of the Holy Spirit, a love moving in and through all humankind and all creation”, the document explains.

Noting that the theme draws on the very heart of the Gospel and reminds us that the Church, as the body of Christ, is moved by Christ himself, the Reflection calls for an “ecumenism of the heart”: “Many people among the Churches are urging that our seeking for unity must not be only intellectual, institutional, and formal, but also based in relationship, in common prayer, and, above all, in mutual affection and love”, the text remarks.

According to the Wcc, this vocation to unity is all the more needed now in the current COVID-19 crisis, which has “exposed how the assumed self-sufficiency, independence, and individualism on which so many have come to rely are but illusions, that we human beings are not the masters of creation but part of creation and vulnerable within it and “also brought more clearly into the light the many inequalities in the world”.

Christian Churches called to set an example

In this context the Council says that Christian Churches are called, now more than ever, to set a leading example: “The Churches need now, together, in a renewed ecumenical movement for the sake of the world, to find a more public voice to speak a truer hope than the empty optimism of any faded political rhetoric: a hope that might build a better world than the one so deeply shaped by materialism, individualism, and consumerism, a world in which resources will be shared, inequalities addressed, and a new dignity found among us and for all of us”, the document reads. “Churches that live and pray only in hidden, private communities, separated from one another, are called by the risen Christ to be ‘sent’ into the very public and open spaces of the world, to reframe our corporate sense odf what matters, to make idols fall, and to be part of welcoming the kingdom of God in which the poor are blessed and the captives set free”.

“A world crying out for profound love, for community, for justice and hope needs Churches that are visibly in communion, longing for oneness where there is division and finding a new future for humankind and for all creation, as expressed in Revelation Christ’s Love Moves the World to Reconciliation and Unity”, the document concludes.

01 February 2021, 20:13