Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Working for Unity Among Christians

The World Council of Churches (WCC), which meets every seven years, have done so this year for the tenth time, in Pusan (Oct. 30th to Nov. 8th), with the theme "God of life lead us to justice and peace." The largest number to ever attend these meetings (8,500) are here, and 4,630 are from Korea.

The World Council of Churches is an inter-church organization founded in 1948. Members include most mainstream Christian churches, except for the Protestant churches who  say the World Council  of Churches represents:  inclusiveness. Many Korean Protestants believe the Council is going against Bible teachings, and staged a protest in front of the building where the delegates are meeting.

The Roman Catholic Church is not a member of the World Council but  sends delegates to the meetings. 12 Catholic theologians are present in the religious faith committee and over the years the Church has kept in close contact with the WCC. Both Catholic papers are reporting on the meeting, as well as the visit of Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, who is attending, along with a delegation from Rome. The Cardinal, quoted in a secular paper, said "All the Christian denominations with the same belief in Jesus are brethren. God desires that we become one, without unity we will not be able to receive the world's trust."

After the Second Vatican Council the Catholic Church has taken ecumenicism and the search for unity as a serious mission. In keeping with this mission, the Cardinal visited with the Anglicans and the Orthodox and had a meal with the heads of other Protestant groups; Buddhist and Confucian groups will also be visited--all efforts to foster a new way of "being world and society."The  Cardinal hopes the meeting of the WCC will have some influence on solving the country's North/South problem.
The  Peace Train, which left Berlin some 22 days before, arrived in Pusan two days before the start of the meeting. They were hoping to get permission to fly to Pyongyang but it was not given, so they took the ferry from China to Inchon, and from there by bus and train to Pusan and the WCC meeting.

The goal of the meeting is not only to break down the walls between religious groups but also to work for unity among all people of the world. With more societies becoming secularized, the existence of God and the moral order and the realization of love is being shaken with relativism, a formidable obstacle that religious people in the world today must face. The imperative to be open to a deeper dialogue and cooperation is more urgent than ever before. The editorial stressed the hope that the WCC meeting will help foster a greater appreciation of the Gospel of Life and be a catalyst for spreading this message throughout the world.

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