World Council of Churches

WCC offers congratulations and prayers for Pope Francis I


Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, has been elected the new pope.
Photo: VanKleinen

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, the general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), has expressed ecumenical greetings and an assurance of continuing engagement with the Roman Catholic Church in the era of its new pontiff, Pope Francis I.

Tveit said, “The election of a new pope, Francis I, is a turning point in the life of the Roman Catholic Church, but it also has an impact on people of other churches and faiths.”

Commenting on the election of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina, the first pope from the Global South, Tveit said, through this fellow “pilgrim of justice and peace, who has lived a simple lifestyle and reflects a passion for social justice and lifting up the poor, we reaffirm our commitment to seeking justice and peace.”

“Ever since the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s, the Roman Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches have enjoyed constructive dialogue and cooperation on matters of faith, witness and the fundamental unity of the whole body of Christ,” Tveit continued.

“We have learned that we are pilgrims together in the one ecumenical movement, and we are particularly grateful for the way the Catholic Church works with us on the highly significant issues of unity, ecclesiology, mission and inter-religious dialogue.”

“Now, in close collaboration with Pope Francis, we look forward to building on this positive relationship with the Catholic Church that has been nurtured so carefully in the past,” he said.

The Roman Catholic Church is not a member of the WCC, but the instrument of the Joint Working Group has fostered close cooperation. Delegates and observers are exchanged at the time of major meetings, and the Catholic Church is formally represented in such WCC-administered bodies as the Faith and Order Commission and the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism.

Cardinal Bergoglio, former archbishop of Buenos Aires, was elected pope by the College of Cardinals on Wednesday 13 March at the conclave in the Vatican.

In Latin America WCC member church leaders reflected positively on the election of Pope Francis.

“We congratulate Francis I, the first Latin American to be elected pope. We are aware of Bergoglio’s work in the Diocese of Buenos Aires and we recognize him as a person of particular sensitivity to social problems and for ecumenical dialogue, said Rev. Nilton Giese, general secretary of the Latin America Council of Churches.

‪”The Evangelical Church of the River Plate (Argentina) congratulates the faithful of the Roman Catholic Church by the recent election of a new pope who, for the first time in history, is from Latin America, said Rev. Antonio Carlos Alfredo Duarte Voelker, president of the Evangelical Church of the River Platte. “We are also confident that his years of experience in the pastorate will help him to promote a new vision to those who suffer persecution and marginalization of any kind.”

Tveit added, “An important aspect of the ecumenical movement is a concept of mutual accountability. We in the World Council of Churches offer our cooperation to Pope Francis and the whole of the Catholic Church in this spirit. We will continue to cooperate in a loving and affirming relationship. In this way, we will grow together in grace and in hope toward that true unity of believers for which Christ prayed.”

“Today the vast majority of Christians live in the Global South,” said Tveit. “The growth of Christianity in the South is likely to continue. This shift has already had an important impact on world Christianity. It is in this context that we will move forward, working together, building our relationship and addressing the important needs of all people today.”

“Let us use this opportunity to pray for and with Pope Francis to reconfirm that we need one another, to address the challenges of the world in our time,” Tveit concluded.

Full text of the WCC general secretary’s statement


WCC assembly, an opportunity for praying, listening and sharing

“The World Council of Churches (WCC) 10th Assembly will be an opportunity for praying, listening and sharing together. The event will provide participants a chance to listen for the voice of God, leading them to justice and peace in the world.”


These were the words of Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, the WCC general secretary, who spoke with the press in Seoul, Republic of Korea on 29 January.  Along with Prof. Dr Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima, vice-moderator of the WCC Central Committee and moderator of the assembly planning committee, Rev. Dr Henriette Hutabarat Lebang, general secretary of the Christian Conference of Asia, and WCC staff members, Tveit is in Seoul finalizing plans for the WCC assembly.

The WCC 10th Assembly will be held from 30 October to 8 November this year in the Korean port city of Busan.   At the press conference, Tveit introduced the WCC, its work and the theme of the assembly, “God of life, lead us to justice and peace”.

He explained that the WCC is a worldwide fellowship of churches bringing together more than 560 million Christians globally, in more than 110 countries. He said that among its diverse membership are Protestant, Orthodox, Evangelical, Pentecostal and Anglican churches, while the WCC also works in cooperation with the Roman Catholic Church.  “Through the WCC assembly, hosted by the Korean churches, we hope to respond to God’s calling for Christian unity and common witness in the world,” said Tveit.

“The WCC assembly in Korea,” Tveit said, “will make important statements on Christian unity, social issues, peace concerns for the Korean peninsula and global conflicts.”  During his visit to Korea, Tveit will be meeting with several Korean church leaders. He is also scheduled to meet the Korean President Lee Myung-bak.

On Sunday evening, 27 January, Tveit preached at the Myung Sung Presbyterian Church in Seoul, which is one of the largest Presbyterian congregations in Korea. The worship service was attended by more than 12,000 people.


Dare to believe peace is coming, Tveit tells Korean congregations (WCC news release of 28 January 2013)

Official website of the WCC 10th Assembly


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An ecumenical conference, called to listen to local residents, found that last year’s chain reaction of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear calamity has generated a “live” human tragedy, across a province, with no end in sight.

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In a minute on Myanmar adopted by the Central Committee on 4 September at a meeting in Crete, the WCC governing body recommended that the council’s Commission of the Churches on International Affairs “continue to monitor the situation and global advocacy on peace, security, reconciliation” and “support the Myanmar Council of Churches in its mission and witness in coordinating peace and reconciliation initiatives.”


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Aung San Suu Kyi addresses CCIA consultation urging new model of reconciliation

From right to left: Mathews George Chunakara, director of CCIA, Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, Rev. Saw Shwe Lin, general secretary of the MCC and Bishop Zan Win Aung of the Methodist Church Myanmar in Yangon. © Subharta Bhumiprabhas.








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