WCC general secretary pays tribute to Pope John Paul II

 — Apr. 3, 20053 avril 2005

The full text of the tribute paid by WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia to Pope John Paul II, highlighting some of the specific achievements of his pontificate, is available from the WCC website.

Pope John Paul II has been among the most outstanding personalities during these last decades, with an impact far beyond the Roman Catholic Church and the Christian community world-wide. During his pontificate, the Roman Catholic Church affirmed its universal vocation and strengthened its internal coherence. His commitment to social justice and reconciliation, to human rights and the dignity of the human person, as well as to Christian unity and inter-religious understanding, will be gratefully remembered.

Having consciously adopted the name John Paul on his election to office, Karol Wojtyla was not simply seeking to honour his immediate predecessor, but to continue and complete the reforming work of Pope John XXIII and Paul VI. In his work, therefore, he also sought to promote relations with other Christian churches and engage in the search for Christian unity with them.

An immediate concern was rapprochement with the Orthodox churches, and he constantly sought to strengthen and develop the bonds between the “successors” of the brothers Andrew and Peter. In his visits throughout the world, Pope John Paul II took every opportunity to meet with leaders of other churches and to encourage his Roman Catholic colleagues to engage fully in local ecumenical initiatives and councils.

Of particular interest is his attempt to offer a vision of unity; his encyclical Ut Unum Sint draws on the insights and experiences of Roman Catholic involvement in the ecumenical movement, and offers substantial reflections on the nature of dialogue and unity. Indeed, this encyclical is unusual in citing reports from the wider ecumenical movement – notably that of the WCC Faith and Order Commission.

To further the moves towards unity, John Paul II in the Encyclical invited other churches to reflect with him on the role and structure of the Petrine ministry as a servant of Christian unity; he also invited his church to apologize for the sins committed during its history which contributed towards division. This was most evident during the Millennium Celebrations in Rome on 13 March, 2000, when he sought forgiveness from other churches for sins committed against them by representatives of the Roman Catholic Church.

As Bishop of Rome, the Pope initiated a series of events and reflections on the work and being of the Holy Trinity to celebrate the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. This drew Christians of different churches in all parts of the world into an intentional ecumenical process at local and international level and provided encouragement for local ecumenism.

Efforts were also made to seek dialogue with people of other faiths. On two occasions at Assisi, the Pope invited leaders of the major world religions to join him to pray for world peace – in 1986 , and in January 2002 (the latter in the light of the terrorist attack of 11 September 2001 on the United States and the subsequent actions) – and to promote a culture of peace to counter the prevailing culture of war.

His strong proclamations and actions for peace, particularly in the two Gulf wars and in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict have been particularly important. By lifting up this common concern of churches worldwide and the ecumenical movement as a whole, he strengthened the voices of Christians everywhere working to overcoming injustice and promote lasting peace.

The pontificate of John Paul II has bridged in a courageous way a period of profound changes and transformations in the church and in the world. A new era and a new millennium have begun, which will require fresh responses in the Roman Catholic Church and in the ecumenical movement.

Additional information: Juan Michel, +41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363; .
Cf. also WCC Press Release of 2 April 2005

Posted: Apr. 3, 2005 • Permanent link: ecumenism.net/?p=126
Categories: NewsIn this article: John Paul II, pope, Samuel Kobia, WCC
Transmis : 3 avril 2005 • Lien permanente : ecumenism.net/?p=126
Catégorie : NewsDans cet article : John Paul II, pope, Samuel Kobia, WCC

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