Pope to meet leaders of World Communion of Reformed Churches

Today Pope Francis will meet with leaders of the World Communion of Reformed Churches, a group which comprises some 80 million Christians in countries right across the globe.

Jun 10, 2016

VATICAN CITY: Today Pope Francis will meet with leaders of the World Communion of Reformed Churches, a group which comprises some 80 million Christians in countries right across the globe.

The delegation, led by President Jerry Pillay and Secretary General Chris Ferguson will also hold talks with the Vatican’s Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Justice and Peace Council, since social justice is at the heart of the dialogue between these two global communities.

Fr Avelino Gonzalez-Ferrer heads the desk for dialogue with Reformed Churches at the Council for Christian Unity – just ahead of the papal audience, he talked to Philippa Hitchen about the meeting and about the focus of this long-standing ecumenical relationship….

Fr Avelino notes that World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) is a union of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) and the Reformed Ecumenical Council (REC) which came together in 2010. Today the WCRC represents over 225 member Churches in over 100 countries, including Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Dutch Reformed, United, Uniting and Waldensian communities.

4th phase of dialogue

The dialogue between Catholics and Reformed Churches began just after the Second Vatican Council and has just completed its 4th international phase. Fr Avelino says that the report on “Justification and Sacramentality: The Christian Community as an Agent for Justice” is expected to be released in the coming months and is a significant contribution to ongoing preparations for next year’s 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. 

Another exciting development that Fr Avelino points to is the desire of the WCRC to associate itself with the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, a document that he describes as “an ecumenical platform which is opening up interesting prospects”.

Economic and ecological justice

Speaking of the social action focus of the Reformed Churches, Fr Avelino refers to the ‘Accra Confession’ on responding to economic and ecological injustices which was adopted at the 24th General Assembly of the Reformed Churches in Ghana in 2004. With the recent publication of Pope Francis’ encyclical ‘Laudato Si’, he notes, there seems to be “a harmony coming around this issue”.

Finally, Fr Avelino shares his hopes for the building of new relationships during this meeting in the Vatican, expressing the wish that such face-to-face encounters can help the Churches to move closer towards their goal of full visible unity and communion.--Vatican Radio

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