Thursday, January 22, 2015

Ecumenism and the Consecrated Life

  A 4 day colloquium sponsored by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life  (CICLSAL) began today at the Augustinianum in Rome.  This is one of the events prepared for the year dedicated to the Consecrated Life.

   One day will be dedicated to the religious life in the Catholic church, one day to religious life in the Orthodox churches and one day dedicated to the consecrated life in the Anglican and Protestant traditions. The last day the group will join with Pope Francis for the closing of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity at the basilica of St. Paul's outside the walls.

Each day the participants gather for an ecumenical morning prayer based on this year's theme "Give me a drink". This then followed by a greeting from wither the Prefect of the CICLSAL or of the Congregation for Oriental Churches and the President of the Council for Chrostian Unity. The morning session concludes with a major presentation of the meaning of the consecrated life for each tradition (Catholic, Orthodox, or Reformed) and two testimonies give concerning the meaning of the vowed life and communal or fraternal living. The afternoon sessions are spent in sharing experiences and working on a final message to be issued at the conclusion of the colloquium.

Dom Joao Braz de Aviz, Prefect of the CICLSAL
 Today's session continued with a greeting from the Prefect of the Congregation, Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz who explained that the importance of religious life for the Catholic church is best understood from its charismatic and prophetic structure. This is the reason why the manifestation of the consecrated life is important for the life and mission of the Church.  Unfortunately often times religious life is not really understood nor appreciated by the local church and at times even tensions arise between structures of authority within the church.  Tensions should not be feared because they are signs that there is life since it is the Spirit which is always challenging the structures  to grow and to be better equipped to be at service to the Gospel,  The sole fount is Jesus Christ and the Gospel he came to proclaim that enlivens the church with various charisms.  What religious need to do is to constantly return to this dynamo of energy which is filtered through the founding vision of the Founders and Foundresses of the diverse religious institutes so that their witness remains authentic and at service of the Gospel. A self-referencing attitude will hinder the true purpose that consecrated men and women have in the world today.

Fr. José Carballo, ofm, Secretary of CICLSAL
  In the major presentation of Fr. José Rodriguez Carballo, ofm the Secretary of the Congregation, entitled "Consecrated Life in the Latin Church", a mosaic of consecrated life in the Catholic Latin churhc was presented.  Here he made the distinction between the various institutes who dedicate themselves to God and to the service of their neighbor through the public profession of the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience. What is important is to not two realities of the public profession and the living of a life in common.  On the other hand "secular institutes" are those who have some of profession of the counsels but they do not live in community, as religious do, and they do not do ministry in their own Institute.  The third type is a "society of apostolic life".  Their members live in common like religious, strive to reach holiness, dedicating themselves mainly to apostolic ministry.  The difference from Institutes of consecrated life is in the fact that the profession of the counsels does not constitute the characterizing element of their life.
  An interesting statistic is the total number of consecrated persons in the various states of religious life totals approximately 756,385.
   Archbishop Carballo emphasized three essential elements of consecrated.  These include consecration, fraternal life in community and mission.  The consecration underscores God's initiative and transforming relationship that the individual freely accepts.  Rooted in baptism consecrated persons are called to holiness as are all the baptized.  However, because of the vows that they freely pronounce there are "totally dedicated to God, loved beyond all things" (LG 44).  The vows are  primarily a gift of Christ, the Savior, in that they are fullness, love and freedom of the human person. The vows are grace, namely the Father's saving response in Christ through the Spirit to the most profound expectations of the human person -- to become everything for Christ, and through Christ, to his or her brothers and sisters in community, and with them, to all humanity.
  Fraternal life in community is the true form of prophecy in the Church and the world, and must never be absent from consecrated life. Fraternal life in community has its roots in the God's paternity, which allows us to see his countenance in others, and, therefore, we can call them 'brothers' and 'sisters', and consider them as 'part of us'.  To achieve this, fraternal live in community needs to be sustained by common prayer, by each one's freedom, and by the commitment of all the community members to continually build community.  It needs to be a life based on dialogue and respect for every person.  It needs to be a life that takes into account the gifts of each brother or sister and it needs to be marked by co-responsibility of each member to enliven fraternal life in community.
  Lastly mission is one of the three founding and fundamental elements of religious life. Religious fully participate in the church's mission, and the latter, on her part, takes part in the missio Dei. Mission, more than a geographical movement is one of the heart.
  These elements of the consecrated life may help others see how religious life has a definite ecumenical dimension.  Since the consecrated life is centered on Christ its purpose it to go out of itself and people where their needs are the greatest.  It is a concrete form of human dialogue which becomes a dialogue of communion, humble service, and an humanizing place.

Fr. José Maria Hernandez, CMF
  This rich presentation of the reality of the consecrated life in the Latin Catholic church was followed by two testimonies seeking to illustrate how the vowed life contributed to an ecumenical awareness and offered opportunities to heal divisions and overcome that which separates us.  This was recounted through the dialogue of life in the experiences of José Maria Hernandez, CMF.
  The second witness was given by Sr. Agnés Granier, RSA who spoke about the values of community life that lead to mission and the going out of oneself to where God's love is most needed.

  Fr. Guido Dotti concluded the morning with a brief presentation of the Bose Ecumenical Community of men and women.

  The afternoon session was  held in working groups that discussed the morning's presentations and began working on a final statement.  Catholic vespers were celebrated in the church of the Gesù.  Tomorrow the program will concentrate on discovering Orthodoxy's forms of consecrated life,

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Lutherans and Catholics to commemorate the Reformation

Tallinn, Estonia
Chapel - Lutheran Theological Institute
   Well, here I am again, this time in Tallinn, Estonia. Tallinn is to supposed to have been founded sometime in the 11th century but only made its appearance in historical documents around 1154 under the name of Qaleven. The Arab geographer al-Idrisi charted it on one of his maps.  Evidently it was a well fortified settlement on the seaside to protect trading in the area but without a permanent population. The ancient city is very rich in fine architectural and art monuments.  But I am not here as an art historian but collaborating on a joint Lutheran and Catholic project. During our stay we were guests of the Evangelical Lutheran theological institute in Tallinn.
Old city

 From Conflict to Communion
Lutheran-Catholic Common Commemoration of the Reformation in 2017
From Conflict to Communion -- text
   This is the title of the most recent document of the Lutheran-Catholic Commission on Unity in view of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity (PCPCU) has asked six liturgists and theologians to come together to work on liturgical materials for the year 2017 while each side provided a co-secretary.  This is actualy the second of three meetings to take place with the first one in May of this year in Wurtzburg, Germany.  The task of the committee is to come up with a good liturgical model that could be used by Lutherans and Catholics around the world to commemorate this historical event.

What do we commemorate?
     Working from the document, the committee came up with three values that seem to characterize the history of the relations between Lutherans and Catholics since this historical event that brings us right up to the latest document produced after 50 years of experience of bi-lateral dialogue.  It very quickly became clear that we do not celebrate the division of Christians that resulted at the time of the Reformation in the 16th century. Rather we commemorate what we have learned from this experience.  What are the values that result because of the reform of the church?  First it is important to situate the Reformation of the 16th century in a long line of reforms of the church which also continue until today.

Some members of the committee

Members of the committee

     Three values quickly became evident as they surfaced to give shape to the project, namely joy, repentance and common witness. Many elements motivate our joy: such as our common faith; renewal in each of our churches; harvesting the fruits of 50 years of ecumenical dialogue; gift and fruit of the Holy Spirit; coming together to praise God; leading us to Christ; shared gratitude; joy in common baptism; common faith and life in the triune God. Asking for forgiveness is important for every generation; repentance for not having taken seriously the baptismal commitment to live as sisters and brothers and forgiveness for the hermeneutics of suspicion which need to be overcome. Joy and repentance bring us to celebrate our common witness and to commit ourselves to furthering the implications of our common baptism.  Here we remember those women and men who have lived their baptismal commitment with great coherence and that at times led them to die rather than compromise the values of the Gospel.

In the meantime
     To prepare for this event, both Catholics and Lutherans need to reflect on their journey together during these last 50 years. In what can we rejoice together?  What can we do better to witness to the communion that we already share?  Like all of the results of the ecumenical dialogues we need to find ways to receive this last document and prepare this event together.  Each of us will have different values in this commemoration; each of us will have learned different things about ourselves and about the other.
     The LWF has established a special committee for 2017 whose motto is: “Liberated by God’s grace” based on these principle scriptural readings: Gal 5:1, Rom 3:24, Isa 55:1, Eph 2:8-10, Lc 4:16-21, Rev 21:6. 
Peter, Susan, Martin and Wanda

     Practically speaking it would be good to pick up once again the documents produced by the International Joint Commission and to verify if both sides have indeed received the results of the dialogues and how they have been able to act on them together. Not only in the theological faculties and seminaries is it important to present the results of this Lutheran-Catholic bi-lateral dialogue but also at the parish level especially where Lutherans and Catholics live side by side in the same territory, neighborhood, city or where they both face the same pastoral problems.
     One more meeting is scheduled for this joint committee to complete its work and submit it to the responsible Lutheran and Catholic authorities.
The Christmas market

        From a very "Christmassy" Tallinn, peace and all good!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Busan: A post-script

Christianity in Korea
     The WCC General Assembly has been over for a week now and all the participants have returned home. It is time to take a look at what happened during this Assembly and to share some last impressions.
      I spoke about how the opening plenary of the Assembly had a wonderfully creative and artistic presentation of Christianity in Korea.

However, it took us some time to realize that Christianity= Protestantism and excluded Catholicism and Orthodoxy. We could get lost in the spectacular presentation into reading history anachronistically. In point of fact when the first Protestant missionary societies arrived they already found baptized Christian men and women who were living and serving the Gospel as well as giving their lives as witnesses of the truth of the Gospel. These were the first Korean Christians.

Jeoldusan Martyrs shrine

      The roots of Christianity began with lay people! The Catholic community in Korea came into being when Yi Seung-hun, one among a group of Korean scholars who on their own studied Catholic books and practiced the faith, went to Beijing and was baptized there in 1784. On his return to Korea he spread the Gospel and baptized others. These first Christians like the first generation of followers of Jesus were to suffer martyrdom for their beliefs in Jesus. The first of these began just a few years after the first appearance of Christianity in 1791.

St Andrew Kim, frist Korean priest
 The first native priest was Andrew Kim Tae-gon ordained in 1845 and martyred in the 4th persecution 1846.

Here is a link to a brief history of Catholic Christianity in Korea presented by the Bishops' conference to the confessional gathering at Busan.

What is Madang?

      Madang is a Korean term meaning a courtyard in a traditional Korean house.

 It is a space for encounter and for sharing.

 The organizers, aided by the local committee, wanted to present the Assembly under the form of a "shared space for encounter" that would intersect with the five dimensions of being church together: fellowship (koinonia), mission and witness (martyria), service (diakonia), ecumenical formation, and interreligious dialogue and cooperation.
Cultural presentation


Some of the stands at the madang

To give a flavor of what happened during the assembly here are some pictures of the Madang space and some clips of the cultural and interreligious events that took place.

The madang program was intended to be a place for the exchange of gifts among the participants through workshops, exhibitions, side events, theatre, visual arts and simple a place to relax and discuss.

The Next Seven Years
      The experience of the General Assembly has set the program for the WCC for the next seven years.  There will be some structural changes in the WCC as well as some new buildings to help better use the properties in Geneva as well as be a stream of income to support the work of the WCC.  There will be some serious issues that the Council will have to confront.  Some of these could be further church divinding if the churches begin to polarize into camps.  Some of the most difficult issues will be the question of ethics and the role of the churches in giving guidance especially to the newer churches and to the Orthodox churches.  The documents of the Assembly are mostly available on the WCC web site for those who wish to read the final 
statements and the program assembled.
      An interesting aspect of the Assembly was the Global Ecumenical Theological Institute (GETI).  This was a theological educational program that preceded the Assembly and continued during the Assembly. Approximately 170 young theologians from diverse church traditions participated.

They have affirmed in a letter to the Secretary General of the WCC that they believe in the ecumenical movement and they intend to continue putting into practice what they have studied..  This experiment worked well and the WCC was encouraged to continue the GETI experiment on other occasions.  It looks like a new model of ecumenical theological formation may have been born which corresponds to a model of theological education pursued in an ecumenical and dialogical way..

What's coming up in Rome
   On Wednesday, 20 November at 6:00 pm, the Centro Pro Unione will have a lecture given by Prof. Alberto Melloni, Professor of the History of Christianity at the University of  Modena-Reggio Emilia and Director of the Fondazione per le scienze religiose Giovanni XXIII, Bologna.  He will speak on the role that the diaries, letters and films play in the interpretation of the documents of the Second Vatican Council. 
    On Monday 25 November at 5:30 pm, in collaboration with the publishers of the review Concilium, the Queriniana, the Asian Centre for Cross-cultural Studies, and the Centro Pro Unione will present the volume entitled "Per una riforma della curia romana". The presentation should be a stimulating look at the theological, canonical, historical and ecumenical issues in such an undertaking requested by Pope Francis at the beginning of his Pontificate.
Go to Conferences page of the Centro Pro Unione web site

Saturday, November 9, 2013

WCC Assembly ends

Two Important Statements
Unity Statement

     The Assembly ended today.  Among the documentation of the Assembly that will be important as the WCC goes forward during the next 7 years were the issuances of the Unity statement and its closing message.
     WCC Unity Statement

Message to the Churches

     The second was the message to the churches.
Join the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace
By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Luke 1:78-79
Dear Sisters and Brothers, we greet you in the name of Christ.
     1. We gathered in the Republic of Korea at the 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches (30 October – 8 November 2013). Coming from 345 member churches of the fellowship and from partner organizations in the ecumenical movement, we joined in prayer, shared stories from our local communities and took to heart strong messages of agony and hope. We are thankful for the many engaging statements released. Our common pilgrimage traced the theme “God of life, lead us to justice and peace.”
     2. In the city of Busan, we journeyed together on a road of transformation – we pray that as we are being transformed ourselves, God will make us instruments of peace. Many of us travelled to other parts of Korea where we witnessed the open wounds of a society torn by conflict and division. How necessary is justice for peace; reconciliation for healing; and a change of heart for the world to be made whole! We were encouraged by the active and committed churches we encountered; their work bears bountiful fruit.
     3. We share our experience of the search for unity in Korea as a sign of hope in the world. This is not the only land where people live divided, in poverty and richness, happiness and violence, welfare and war. We are not allowed to close our eyes to harsh realities or to rest our hands from God’s transforming work. As a fellowship, the World Council of Churches stands in solidarity with the people and the churches in the Korean peninsula, and with all who strive for justice and peace.
     4. God our Creator is the source of all life. In the love of Jesus Christ and by the mercy of the Holy Spirit we, as a communion of the children of God, move together towards the fulfillment of the Kingdom. Seeking grace from God we are called, in our diversity, to be just stewards of God’s Creation. This is the vision of the New Heaven and Earth, where Christ will “fill all in all” (Eph 1.23).
     5  We live in a time of global crises. Economic, ecological, socio-political and spiritual challenges confront us. In darkness and in the shadow of death, in suffering and persecution, how precious is the gift of hope from the Risen Lord! By the flame of the Spirit in our hearts, we pray to Christ to brighten the world: for his light to turn our whole beings to caring for the whole of creation and to affirm that all people are created in God’s image. Listening to voices that often come from the margins, let us all share lessons of hope and perseverance. Let us recommit ourselves to work for liberation and to act in solidarity. May the illuminating Word of God guide us on our journey.
     6. We intend to move together. Challenged by our experiences in Busan, we challenge all people of good will to engage their God-given gifts in transforming actions.

This Assembly calls you to join us in pilgrimage.

May the churches be communities of healing and compassion, and may we seed the Good News so that justice will grow and God’s deep peace rest on the world.

Blessed are they who observe justice,
who do righteousness at all times!
Psalm 106:3

God of life, lead us to justice and peace!

Nota: Dissenting opinions: Archimandrite Jack Khalil of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East wished to register his dissent to the use of the word “transformation” in two places in the message, on the theological ground that as Christians our transformation is already completed in our baptism. Metropolitan Bishoy of Damietta wished to register his dissent to the phrase “all people are created”, having prefered it to say “were created”.

First woman moderation of the Central Committee

     The newly installed 150-member committee made history Friday by unanimously electing Dr Agnes Abuom of Nairobi, from the Anglican Church of Kenya, as the moderator of the highest WCC governing body.
      Two vice-moderators were elected, United Methodist Church Bishop Mary Ann Swenson from the USA and Prof. Dr Gennadios of Sassima of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

“My open prayer is that we shall move forward together, in the next years, despite our diversities that have the potential to divide us,” Abuom said shortly after her election, “…and that the WCC will continue to remain an instrument for providing a safe space for all who can come and share their hopes, aspirations and visions, and prophetic voice.”
     Abuom was the Africa president for the WCC from 1999 to 2006. She has been associated with the All Africa Conference of Churches and WCC member churches in Africa. She is a co-president of the Religions for Peace and the National Council of Churches of Kenya. Her areas of work include economic justice, peace and reconciliation.

Foot washing as a symbol of going forward as pilgrims
     The closing ritual if the Assembly included footwashing.
How do we follow? Follow the narrow path, the rugged path, the unpopular, sometimes lonely path, the path of the cross. With a humble spirit, we will follow.

Washing of the feet -- a Biblical sysmbol
     Old Testament references (Gen 18:4; 19:2; 24:32; 43:24; 1 Sam 25:41; 2 Sam 11:8; Ps 58:10) show that the washing of the feet was the first act on entering the tent or house after a journey. The biblical people wore sandals, and this washing was refreshing as well as cleansing. In the case of ordinary people, the host furnished the water and the guests washed their own feet, but in the richer houses, a slave washed their feet. It was looked upon as the lowliest of all tasks. On the last evening of his earthly life, Jesus washed the disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17).
     Jesus’ act of washing the feet of his disciples has revolutionary potential, for it redefines the meaning of power and authority and questions the structures associated with them. True authority is nothing less than the exercise of diakonia, the praxis of love in the perspective of the new world God is promising to us.

L: We worship the Father of Light, and his only begotten Son, and the Holy Spirit, the Trinity one in essence.
L: She came to Jesus, unnamed, uninvited, but unafraid.
C: And she poured out her gratitude.
L: She gave her costly gift, embalmed him with her tears, for she alone could see where his path would lead.
C: And she poured out her grief.
L: We come to Jesus, invited to walk his Way, enabled to pour out our lives
C: in service of God’s Reign, as we come to worship.

* * * * * *
     I arrived back in Rome at 9:00 PM.  It was a long trip of over 15 hours.  In the next days I want to share some of the side activities that took place at the Madang as well as some photos of the Assembly.  

     Oh yes, I forgot to mention that soon after the Halloween decorataions came down on the 2nd of November, look what appeared not only in the restaurant but in the department stores!

Peace and all good.

Go in Peace

God of life, lead us to build peace in today's world

Worship: Paths of Peace
We are called to be peacemakers.  This peace, which we share with one another, is of the Spirit who breathes onto us the deep peace of Christ. Jesus eases our troubled souls (John 14:27-31), assuring us of God’s care even as God clothes the common flowers and beautiful weeds of the field (Mt 6:25-34).

The symbol used today was that of tenacious wildflowers, unlike cultivated flowers are tended only by God.  The Spirit of God grants us courage and wisdom to journey into the peaceable reign of God on earth.

The prayer concluded with this invocation:

God of peace and possibility,
make us instruments of your peace here and in all places,
so that we, may fulfil your will.
In the name of the Prince of Peace,
Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Salaman atruku lakom; salami au' tikom.

Bible study: Go in peace
The biblical text was from John 14:27-31 part of Jesus’ farewell discourse.  Jesus offers an alternative, a difference, a dilemma: the peace he offers contradicts peace as the “world understands it”.

 In this way he endows the word peace–itself powerful and highly significant in the Israelite tradition–with new meaning, new sense.  He leaves us questioning and deciding what value it will have for our lives, knowing that this peace unites us with Jesus’ presence and love.  This peace is his person, as the Apostle Paul acknowledges: “For he is our peace” (Eph 2:14).  It is with this in mind that we approach this Gospel text.

In the time of Jesus the word peace was part of the imperial propaganda.  The Pax Augusta justified imperial rule.  It was something that Rome offered as an (imposed) gift to other peoples, the Pax Romana.  At the same time it was identified as Pax deorum, the consent of the gods to bless the Roman legions with the glory of victory. This peace went hand in hand with security offered by world leaders.

However, the Hebrew meaning of the shalom that Jesus offers is quite different.  His peace does not bring death to the body nor does it imply an expression of superiority or the imposition of power.  In fact Jesus proposes himself as the abundance of life and freedom.
Shalom is the key word in this passage.  From the Hebrew and biblical meaning, there is a complexity in the word and its context.  Other senses associated with this word are salvation , mercy, health.  It is even used for one sleeping into death (Gen 15:15).  Primarily the shalom of God is about life, not death.  So the word goes far beyond the Greek concept of eirene or a sense of quietude and tranquility.
The greeting of the Risen Lord is a declaration of peace fulfilled in three acts: life as a gift from God to be proclaims to all peoples (“so I send you”), the presence of the Holy Spirit that revives creation (“receive the Holy Spirit”) and the forgiveness that restores human relationships (“if you forgive, you will be forgiven”).
In the final act, the passage is a call to action: “Rise, let us be on our way”.  Peace is meant to be a witness to bear and a task to fulfill.

The wildflower was used as the symbol for today's reflection.  It is something that is sown by God who alone takes care of it.  We see these flowers come back every year with their natural colors and beauty and yet no one tends them except God. The Bible study ended with the observation: "Peace is a defenseless flower", and yet . . .

. . .  flowers produce seeds.  How can we sow the seed of peace in our children and young people?

We concluded the study with this prayer:

This was the last of the Bible studies so let me recap the Biblical framework with this last slide:

The Peace plenary
This was the last plenary, the peace plenary.  It was intended to share stories, images and signs of hope that God is leading us to justice and peace.  It added dimensions of peace to earlier plenaries on justice, mission, unity and Asia.

The format was one of story sharing of the insights and struggles in the face of inequality, injustice and indifference.

The first of the stories was from Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace Laureate in 2011.  It told how she founded various peace and reconciliation initiatives and how she led a non-violent Christian and Muslim women’s movement that played a pivotal role in ending Liberia’s civil war in 2003.

The moderator of the session Anglican Bishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town then asked Chang Yoon Jae to speak about issues related to society, justice faith and peace.

The initiative and experiences of the peace churches was presented by Stanley Noffsinger who interviewed two young persons one from Iran and the other from Costa Rica.  These young people spoke about damage that the embargo on Iran is doing to the people in the villages often time causing shortages of food, medicines and creating issues for the youth of unemployment.  Fabian who was born deaf, talked about programs that discriminate against people who live with disabilities.  He seeks to build the sense of peace by promoting programs of wholeness and inclusiveness for those who are often left out of the social fabric of society thereby giving them a sense of wholeness and integrity.

Agata Abrahamian and Fabian Corrales

The plenary ended by singing a South African song:

Business sessions
The Assembly continued to work through the documents and proposals at the business meetings. The use of consensus approval continued with the delegates lifting up their orange or blue cards to signify approval or non approval.
Delegates vote approval with orange cards
      Since the Vatican delegation will be leaving on Friday morning this was our last offical session at the Assembly.  The WCC delegates will continue through Friday to approve changes in policy, accept reports and issue a closing statement to the churches.  But we had one last duty to carry out – the confessional meeting.

Confessional meeting
The Catholics who were present at the Assembly gather one last time as a group that included, journalists, steward, the members of the local Korean Catholic church and the Vatican delegated observers to share our impressions.
Most felt it was an enriching experience, a learning experience for some and an opportunity for all to share by our presence the desire of the Catholic church to work for the unity of Christians, peace and justice together with all who confess Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Some learned of the complexities of the WCC and the difficulties that it faces as an institution of such diverse types of churches and ecclesial communities.  One disappointment was expressed. The issues of Faith and Order which focuses the attention on the unity that we seek was not as strong as it could have been.  For example, there were two very important documents that the Catholic Church and the WCC worked on during the last seven years, namely the document on the Church and the Joint Working Group’s final statement.  These were only mentioned in passing and didn’t seem to play a role in the Assembly’s program.  Even the Unity plenary which was to focus on the unity statement only gave a nod to these two documents.  Since the delegates of the Assembly will be the ones who will return to their churches and have the duty of bringing the documents to their ecclesial bodies for reception, it seemed that this was a missed opportunity.
In addition the Catholics had an opportunity to share with Bishop Farrell of the Christian Unity Council some hopes for work of the PCPCU in the coming years.  The wish that the Council would prepare a study on the reception of the Church document and give the Catholic response as a means of helping the Catholic church on the local level to be more active, more informed about ecumenism and taking the next steps on the journey to Christian unity.  There was also the hope that the Korean Catholic church would be able to correct the mistaken impression that Christianity came to Korea only when Protestant missionaries arrived.  It was also the hope of the Catholics present that unity and peace in the Korean peninsula would soon be achieved.  We were told that there are no priests serving the Catholics in the North which was a disturbing fact.

So as I prepare to board the plane for return to Rome I leave you with one last interview from one of the Catholic stewards at the Assembly 

and of course my wishes of 

Peace and all good!