By Linda Bordoni
Pope Francis' one-day journey to Geneva on 21 June will be his 23rd visit outside Italy since being elected Pope.
Dubbed as an “ecumenical pilgrimage” he will be marking the 70th anniversary of the World Council of Churches. His schedule includes an ecumenical prayer service, lunch at the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey, and a more formal address to the WCC.
During the day, Francis will also meet privately with the President of the Swiss Confederation and celebrate Mass with the local Catholic community.
Located in the countryside some 25 kilometers from Geneva at the Chateau de Bossey, the Ecumenical Institute was founded in 1946 and brings together people from diverse churches, cultures and backgrounds for ecumenical learning, academic study and personal exchange.
It is an international Centre for encounter, dialogue and formation of the World Council of Churches.
Speaking to Vatican News, the Dean of the Institute, Father Lawrence Iwuamadi expressed joy for the visit of Pope Francis, thanks to whom he said, ecumenical dialogue has been taken to a whole new level:
From ecumenical ‘spring’ to ecumenical ‘summer’
Fr Iwuamadi said Pope Francis’s visit comes at an extremely significant moment, a moment he said in which “we are moving from an ecumenical spring to an ecumenical summer.
“It is no longer that very cold ecumenism, it has become more and more warm, and the Pope’s visit not only affirms this, but also gives it a kick” he said.
Iwuamadi explained that the Pope has always stressed the importance of theological dialogue, in fact he has always affirmed that it is central to talk about the theological issues that divide the Churches, but he also said that we cannot wait to solve those problems before we can walk together.
He encourages us, he said, “to begin the journey together, because it is only journeying together that we discover who the other is”.
And at that point, he continued, it becomes easier for us to begin to talk about difficult questions.
“So I see his visit to the World Council of Churches, for the 70th anniversary of the WCC, as a very great stimulus” he said, adding that it is a place and an environment in which Pope Francis is extremely well respected.