[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] The World Council of Churches and the Roman Catholic Church have identified peacebuilding and the protection of migrants and refugees as core areas for joint work. The focus was agreed at the two bodies’ Joint Working Group, which met last week at the Château de Bossey in Switzerland for its annual meeting.
The Joint Working Group (JWG) was established in 1965 to monitor “the collaboration of the two bodies in the areas of faith and order, mission and evangelism, justice and peace, ecumenical formation, and interreligious dialogue,” the WCC said.
“Increasingly JWG meetings advance not only the agenda of the working group itself but also the growing collaboration at the operational, programmatic level, with WCC programme staff working directly with Vatican dicasteries.”
At its meeting last week, the JWG decided to focus on two specific areas: peacebuilding and dialogue in areas of conflict and the plight and prospects of migrants and refugees. These issues “align neatly with current missional priorities of Rome and the WCC’s pilgrimage of justice and peace,” the WCC said.
“In this iteration, the JWG, led by co-moderators Metropolitan Nifon of Târgoviște, of the Romanian Orthodox Church, and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, the [Roman Catholic] Primate of Ireland, is also exploring a new methodology, creating specific groups focused on the two main streams of its work.”
Archbishop Martin said that the new groups will determine “what we can say to the parent bodies about opportunities for deepening engagement on these issues,” so that they will have real impact in the life of the church itself.
“In this way we hope not only to monitor the ecumenical collaboration of the churches at local and international levels, but also to encourage and recommend to our parent bodies, ways to facilitate its further development and evaluation,” Metropolitan Nifon said.
In their communiqué, members of the JWG said: “Dialogue and cooperation regarding challenges the churches are facing together are increasing and showing fruits. The JWG is witnessing growing cooperation between the Pontifical Councils for Promoting Christian Unity, the Pastoral Care for Migrant and Itinerant Peoples, for Interreligious Dialogue and for Justice and Peace with the relevant projects in the WCC. The present composition of the JWG members reflects this reality and the willingness of the JWG to accompany such cooperation and to deepen it even further.”