By Robin Gomes
Pope Francis Thursday morning flew to Geneva to join the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), a 350 member-group that is present in more than 110 countries and territories, making it the largest umbrella group of Christian denominations in the world.
The WCC represents over 500 million Christians and includes most of world’s Orthodox Churches, a large number of Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed Churches, as well as many United and Independent Churches.
The Catholic Church is not a member of the WCC but the two have maintained excellent relations.
The theme of Pope Francis' WCC visit is "Walking, Praying and Working Together".
The Pope’s June 21 visit to Geneva began with a private meeting with Swiss President Alain Berset, after which he proceeded to the WCC Ecumenical Centre for an ecumenical prayer service, during which he will deliver a homily.
He will also meet a delegation of 8 Korean members of the WCC, four from North Korea and four from South Korea.
Ecumenical Institute of Bossey
From the Geneva Ecumenical Centre, the Pope will be driven some 18 kms to the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey, the international centre for encounter, dialogue and formation of the WCC. After lunch with the WCC leadership, the Holy father will also visit the institute’s chapel.
From the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey, the Pope will return in the afternoon to WCC Ecumenical Centre where he will meet the WCC’s top officials, civil authorities, the papal team and members of the Central Committee which serves as WCC’s chief governing body. He will deliver a talk there.
The next big papal event will be an evening Holy Mass for the Catholic faithful of Switzerland at Geneva’s Palaexpo, an exhibition centre. Some 40,000 are expected to attend the Mass, including from nearby France.
After Mass the Pope will bid farewell to the Swiss bishops and the pontifical representatives in Geneva and fly back to Rome.