GENEVA (RNS/ENI) The new head of the World Council of Churches said the global church group offers a unique network that can forge better relations with the Roman Catholic Church, other Christian groups and Muslims.
The Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, a 48-year-old Norwegian theologian, was elected general secretary of the World Council of Churches on Thursday (Aug. 27).
“There is no network in this world like the churches. There is no network so close to the grass-roots people in the world. There is no network that is so well linked together and so much called to be together,” Tveit told reporters after his election.

The WCC represents more than 560 million Christians and has 349 members, mostly Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant churches. The Catholic Church does not belong to the WCC but has members on some of its committees.
Tveit is currently general secretary of the Church of Norway Council on Ecumenical and International Relations. He will succeed the Rev. Samuel Kobia, a Methodist from Kenya, who stands down at the end of 2009.
Tveit will be the second Lutheran to head the church grouping in its 61-year history.
“We are living in a time when there is a need for inter-Christian solidarity in this world. We can raise the voice of others … making the voice of the local Christian, stronger, richer, wider,” he said.
“It is not always easy, but it is important to have a growing accountable accommodation,” said Tveit, saying all churches — including WCC member churches, Catholics, evangelicals and Pentecostals — pursue the same goal: Jesus’ call to Christian unity.
“These are the type of relations we have to develop on the local, national and international level,” Tveit said, noting that churches have “great potential” to break down various barriers. The way forward, he said, begins with a simple premise: “To see one another as fellow human beings. All faiths call us to that.”
— By Peter Kenny
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.
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