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A Delegation of the IBC visits the World Council of Churches

On the initiative of Archbishop Joris Vercammen, a delegation from the Old Catholic Bishops' Conference was received by the World Council of Churches in Geneva on April 8th, 2011. The delegation from the Old Catholic Bishops' Conference was made up of Archbishop Joris Vercammen, Swiss Bishop Harald Rein, and the Swiss priest, Ioan L. Jelelean. The delegation was received by Canon John Gibaut, Director for Faith and Order at the World Council, the Reverend Daniel Buda, World Council Representative for Denominational and Ecumenical Relations, Douglas Chial, World Council Coordinator for Denominational and Ecumenical Relations, Guillemo Kerber, World Council Representative for Climate Change, as well as the Reverend Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches.

At the meeting with Canon John Gibaut, the World Council's Director for Faith and Order, the ecclesiological document 'The Nature and Mission of the Church (2005)' has been the main topic. The Archbishop gave the response of the Bishops' Conference to the document, which was one of twenty-seven such responses. Canon John Gibaut happily received this response, but at the same time regretted that the responses to date had not been entirely satisfactory. Up to that time, there had been responses from some regional churches as well as from the Roman Catholic Church. The document should take into account the responses of as many churches as possible and be available for publication in 2012.  Archbishop Joris Vercammen informed the Reverend Gibaut about consultations with the Mar Thoma Church in India and about the Bishops’ meeting in August 2010 between the Union of Utrecht, the Mar Thoma Church and the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI).

At the joint lunch held for the delegation with the Reverend Daniel Buda, World Council Representative for Denominational and Ecumenical Relations and Douglas Chial, World Council Coordinator for Denominational and Ecumenical Relations, the central question was whether the very small Czech Old Catholic Bishopric can become a member of the World Council.  In the view of the World Council representatives, the bishopric is too small for membership. There is however the possibility that assemblies could be attended by a Czech representative from the Union of Utrecht.

In conversation with Guillermo Kerber, World Council Representative for Climate Change, the principal matter concerned themes in the publication 'Globalisation and Catholicity: Ecumenical Conversations on God's Abundance and the People's Need'. The paramount concern was precisely what contribution the Union of Utrecht can make to achieve the objectives outlined in the publication. Those present came to the agreement that the Union of Utrecht is best able to set itself to the task when pursued actively in a work-group that applies itself to theological reflection on globalisation and catholicity. Each church which contributed to the publication 'Globalisation and Catholicity' could participate in this work-group, including the Roman Catholic Church. The first meeting of the group is planned for February or March.

Conversation with the Reverend Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, involved an exchange of the newly elected General Secretary and the Union of Utrecht. The Reverend Daniel Buda, World Council Represenative for Denominational and Ecumenical Relations, and Douglas Chial, World Council Coordinator for Denominational and Ecumenical Relations took part in this exchange as well. Archbishop Joris Vercammen specifically informed about ecumenical relations and dialogues with the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican, Orthodox, Polish Mariawite and Swedish Churches, and with the Mar Thoma and the Philippine Churches. The General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, the Reverend Olav Fykse Tveit stated that the Union of Utrecht is a trustworthy and valued dialogue partner in ecumenical discussions and specifically emphasised the great importance of small churches within the body of the World Council of Churches. In particular, the contribution to the central committee by Archbishop Joris Vercammen was of great importance.

 

Rev. Ioan Jebelean

Translation: Peter Darlington

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