Pope to travel to Geneva for 70th anniversary of the World Council of Churches

The visit to WCC headquarters will include an ecumenical prayer, a special session of the Central Committee to mark the anniversary, and an address by the pope. Francis will be the third pontiff to visit the organisation after Paul VI on 10 June 1969 and John Paul II on 12 June 1984.


Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis will travel to Geneva on 21 June for a visit to the World Council of Churches (WCC), a body that brings together 348 Protestant, Lutheran, Anglican, Methodist, Orthodox, and independent Churches. The Catholic Church has observer status and is a full member of the Faith and Constitution Commission.

Pope Francis will be the third pontiff to visit the WCC after Paul VI on 10 June 1969 and John Paul II on 12 June 1984.

The announcement of the papal visit was made today at a press conference on the initiatives planned for the 70th anniversary of the WCC’s foundation. Its motto is ‘Walking, praying, working together’.

This, said Card Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, "echoes the theme of the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace, which was adopted by the last WCC assembly as a leitmotiv of all its current activities. It also reflects what has been defined by Pope Francis as an ‘ecumenism of walking together’."

The details of the papal visit are still being worked out. The pope is expected to meet the president of the Swiss Confederation in a courtesy visit. He will then proceed to the Ecumenical Centre. At WCC headquarters there will be an ecumenical prayer, a special session of the Central Committee to mark the anniversary, and an address by Francis.

At the invitation of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Switzerland, Francis will also celebrate Mass for the Catholic community of Geneva and Switzerland.

The return to Rome is scheduled for the evening of the same day.

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