World Council of Churches Office of Communication
Press Release
150 route de Ferney, P.O. Box 2100, 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland
E-mail: media

5 March 2001

WCC welcomes new president of Pontifical Council,
honours retiring Cardinal Cassidy

Rev. Dr Konrad Raiser, general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), welcomed the official announcement on 3 March that His Eminence Walter Cardinal Kasper has become the fourth president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU). Dr Raiser noted that "Cardinal Kasper comes to this central position of ecumenical leadership in the Roman Catholic Church with broad pastoral experience and sensitivity and after a distinguished career as a theological teacher. His competence will be an asset for our work together. We look forward to his leadership and inspiration in the years ahead."

In congratulating Cardinal Kasper on his elevation to the rank of cardinal, Dr Raiser also rejoiced that the WCC has been able to work with Cardinal Kasper over the last two years as he served as secretary of the PCPCU, developing relationships of mutual confidence.

Cardinal Kasper and retiring PCPCU president, Edward Idris Cardinal Cassidy, were in Geneva on 27 February and met with WCC leadership. For this event, Dr Raiser took the opportunity to express his "gratitude and respect for the leadership Cardinal Cassidy brought in our joint work". He expressed his appreciation for his "energetic commitment behind the Roman Catholic Church's search for Christian unity, its involvement in modern ecumenism and its desire to respond to the challenges of the times".

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The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 342, 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.