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Saturday, December 4, 2010
VATICAN: POPE: MET WITH REV. TVEIT TO DISCUSS ECUMENISM
RADIO VATICANA REPORT: Working for an ecumenical springtime
Pope Benedict met on Saturday with Norwegian pastor, Rev. Olaf Fykse Tveit, the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches. The Geneva based organisation, set up in 1948, represents 349 Churches and Christian communities worldwide. During the audience, Rev Fykse Tveit gave the Holy Father a wooden box handcrafted in Syria to stress a common concern for Christians throughout the Middle East. Inside the box was a favourite book of poems entitled ‘The dream that we carry’ and a pair of warm, woollen gloves – a sign, Rev Fykse Tveit said, that “winter can be beautiful too” After the audience, Philippa Hitchen talked to Rev Fkyse Tveit about the meeting and about his hopes for a new ecumenical springtime.
“We had a very open and friendly conversation, he emphasised in a very strong way the importance of the WCC work and also the ministry I’m called to do as General Secretary. And he expressed his interest in how we’re developing. He has himself been involved in our commission on ‘Faith and Order’ so he knows at least one very important dimension of our work very well. And he’s of course interested in how we work with our theological issues and how we also strengthen the work of visible unity between the churches”.
“I’m not sure the issue of formal membership is the most important one, but more how can we strengthen the strong cooperation that we already have. It is a cooperation in commissions, but also a cooperation that is going on every day. The WCC is a fellowships of churches around the world and when I know travel and meet with member churches, in many cases they say a lot about how they cooperation with the Roman Catholic church – for me it’s much more than only the link between Rome and Geneva, it’s how we cooperate in many contexts”
“I see a strong commitment in many of our churches for revitalising the ecumenical agenda and how we can respond to the call to be one in many ways, not only in one way….. This year I’ve been invited to both the World Conference on Pentecostal churches and to the big Evangelical event in cape town, their mission conference and in both cases they were very clear in saying they also want to share in this one ecumenical movement… they’re very strong in expressing their understanding of what has been the WCC agenda, working for unity in faith, but also unity in common witness, in working for justice, care of creation ,for peace, so in many ways they are ‘wearing our clothes’, which we, the WCC, was known for in the 70’s and 80’s …so it’s important to see that picture is much wider.”
“We talked about …how we can support the Christian communities in the Middle East, we realise that the number of Christians are diminishing but also we talked about the situation in Israel and Palestine, the need for a common witness. I hope this week (of prayer for Christian Unity) will help us see that Christians in the Holy Land are not only there to steward museums, but they have a very special place in world Christianity and I hope this (week) can strengthen all of us in accompanying them but also to learn from them”
“There is a standing invitation from my predecessor (for the Pope to visit the WCC), and I hope there will be a way to find a possibility for him to visit Switzerland and Geneva … it would be a great blessing for Switzerland and for the international work that is done in Geneva.”