Week of Prayer for Christian Unity faces elusive challenges

It would seem such a simple thing, to pray together ...

Continued from page 2

One of the great leaders of the Pentecostal/ Charismatic movement, South African author David du Plessis, was disfellowshiped from the Assemblies of God denomination for his determination to maintain a dialogue with the World Council of Churches, which was seen as too flawed to ever succeed.

During the Cold War, it was alleged to be a target of the KGB, whichtaught operatives how to utilize naive, “useful idiots” within liberal ranks to advance Soviet goals.

Yet the World Council of Churches has survived, based in Geneva, Switzerland.

“At least once a year,” the WCC offers on its website, “many Christians become aware of the great diversity of ways of adoring God. Hearts are touched, and people realize that their neighbors’ ways are not so strange.

“The event that touches off this special experience is something called the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

“Traditionally celebrated between 18-25 January (in the northern hemisphere) or at Pentecost (in the southern hemisphere), the Week of Prayer enters into congregations and parishes all over the world. Pulpits are exchanged, and special ecumenical worship services are arranged.

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“Ecumenical partners in a particular region are asked to prepare a basic text on a biblical theme. Then an international group with WCC-sponsored (Protestant and Orthodox) and Roman Catholic participants edits this text and ensures that it is linked with the search for the unity of the church.”

Roman Catholic? Really?

A check with local parish priests verifies that the Catholic Church’s policy of not inviting non-Catholic clergy to speak from Catholic pulpits stands. However, priests throughout the U.S. have been reminded by their bishops that they are permitted to mention the Week of Prayer in their sermons and include the goals for Christian unity in their prayers.

The WCC website notes that the text from which sermons can be based has been jointly published by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the WCC “and has been sent to Roman Catholic dioceses” and “they are invited to translate the text and contextualize it for their own use.”

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Rob Kerby
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