In an atmosphere of joy, peace and fraternity, the 11th General Assembly of the World Council of Churches concluded a few days ago in Karlsruhe, Germany. Following is from the Centro Uno team, Focolare’s international secretariat for ecumenism, who were present at the event.
“The love of Christ moves the world to reconciliation and unity.” This was the Christological theme for the 11th General Assembly of the World Council of Churches that took place in Karlsruhe, Germany, from August 31 to September 8.
Present were representatives of some 350 churches, WCC member delegates and leaders, leaders of other faith communities cooperating with the Council for the Unity of Humanity, as well as a delegation from both the Ukrainian and Russian churches. It was a strong sign and tangible testimony to how this council is truly a platform perpetually open to dialogue.
Participants from all continents brought with them the living image of all humanity, in its diversity, suffering and richness. They told of their stories, their great love for Christ, their struggles for peace, and their desire to aim for unity.
It is a project that needs not just any love to be realised, but the love that comes from the heart of the Trinity, found only in contact with God. This was expressed in the special importance and care given to prayer. Each day, in fact, began and ended by praying inside a spacious and bright tent set up in memory of the place of the covenant, where the Jewish people met with Moses.
The diversity of liturgies, languages, music, songs and customs fuelled the joy and awe of the richness of one common faith, expressed in an infinite number of ways.
The delegations came to Karlsruhe as pilgrims aiming to accompany and support each other, chart new directions and witness together to God’s love.
Leading the delegation from the Catholic Church was Cardinal Kurt Koch, who at the opening of the event made a gift of some of Pope Francis’ words written for the occasion, encouraging the participants to grow in fraternal communion in the name of Christ, to be credible as an outgoing church and to comfort the world in a time of division and war.
The Focolare’s contribution fit as a piece in this large mosaic, with attendance of more than 30 people, Catholic and from various churches, including bishop friends of the Focolare, focolarini, Gen (the movement’s youth), Volunteers of God and a Muslim friend.
Being present together with so many people from the various churches was a unique experience for each of us and a precious opportunity to feel one in the love of Christ.
The assembly concluded with deliberating on a report that referred to three significant challenges of our time: climate justice, racial justice, and equality between men and women. It emphasised how the churches can address these and was accepted by a majority vote.
These elements not only set us on the path, but as we read in a few lines of the final document, reveal a similarity with the goals and spirit that guides the Focolare Movement.
“One can define the search for unity, which is inspired by love and rooted in a deep and reciprical relationship, as an ‘ecumenism of the heart.’ It is Christian love that impels us to walk honestly and wholeheartedly alongside one another, to try to see the world through each other’s eyes and feel compassion for one another.”