On June 21, 2018, Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church joined the general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the moderator of its Central Committee at an ecumenical meeting during his landmark visit. The theme of the visit was “Ecumenical Pilgrimage—Walking, Praying and Working Together.”
Pope Francis’ visit is the cornerstone of the ecumenical commemoration of the WCC’s 70th anniversary and marks 50 years of cooperation with the Roman Catholic Church in the quest for Christian unity. The visit is only the third by a pope, and the first time that such an occasion was dedicated to visiting the WCC. At an ecumenical prayer service with religious leaders from all over the world, the Pope gave the blessing.
The Pope began the visit by joining in prayers in the chapel of the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva after flying in from Rome and then visiting the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey, which is involved with theological formation.
In the afternoon, Pope Francis again visited the Ecumenical Centre, where the WCC does much of its work. There he spoke along with WCC general secretary, the Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, and Dr Agnes Abuom, moderator of the Central Committee, an important WCC governing body.
“Your Holiness, your visit is a sign of this hope we share,” said the general secretary. “It is a milestone in the relations among the churches. We are here as representatives of different churches and traditions from all over the world.”
“I would like to reaffirm that the Catholic Church acknowledges the special importance of the work carried out by the Faith and Order Commission and desires to keep contributing to that work through the participation of highly qualified theologians,” said Pope Francis.