World Council of Churches Office of Communication
Press Release
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E-mail: media

5 September 2000

WCC reaffirms importance of ecumenical dialogue and common witness
First reaction to the Declaration Dominus Iesus

The World Council of Churches (WCC) affirms the importance of genuine ecumenical dialogue, and of common Christian witness on the problems facing the world today. This is a first reaction of the WCC to the Declaration Dominus Iesus issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome today, Tuesday 5 September 2000.

"All churches have gained enormously from the recent entry - through the 2nd Vatican Council in the 1960s - of the Roman Catholic Church into the ecumenical movement", said Rev. Dr Tom Best, a staff member of the WCC's Faith and Order Team. "Within the framework of the WCC, and in the wider ecumenical movement, many sensitive conversations are underway about the relationships of the churches to one another. What a loss if these were hindered - or even damaged - by language which precludes further discussion of the issues. In addition, one would hope for an acknowledgement of the many positive developments in common Christian confession, witness and service which have happened within the ecumenical movement over the past 100 years."

A common and credible Christian witness is needed to the many ethical and social challenges facing the world today, including issues of globalization, prophetic witness, and mission. "What a tragedy", added Best, "if this witness to a hurting world were obscured by the churches' dialogues about their relative authority and status - however important they may be."

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The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 337, in more than 100 countries in all continents from virtually all Christian traditions. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member church but works cooperatively with the WCC. The highest governing body is the assembly, which meets approximately every seven years. The WCC was formally inaugurated in 1948 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Its staff is headed by general secretary Konrad Raiser from the Evangelical Church in Germany.