The eleventh Assembly of the World Council of Churches runs from 31 August to 8 September 2022 in Karlsruhe, Germany. The Focolare Movement has long been linked to the WCC by ties of friendship and collaboration, which continue in this latest Assembly.
In a world torn apart by conflicts, afflicted by a pandemic which has widened inequalities, overwhelmed by an unprecedented climate crisis, characterized by scientific and technological innovations which often create new disparities between people and regions of the world, does it make any sense to speak of unity? And, if so, what contribution can Christians make to achieve it?
These fundamental questions will be at the heart of the 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches, taking place at Karlsruhr, Germany from 31 August to 8 September 2022. The Assembly, the highest governing body of the World Council of Churches, is normally convened every eight years. 352 Churches now belong to the WCC, in 110 countries, representing around 500 million Christians. The Assembly will gather around 4,000 participants from all around the world.
Unity, for Christians, is the fulfilment of Jesus’ prayer “that they may all be one” (John 17:21). Words which inspire confidence in the Assembly’s title: “Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity”. The work of the Assembly springs from reflecting on the great challenges of the planet which have revealed such vulnerability, as well as ethnic, economic and social divisions and injustices. But which have also highlighted the interdependence of individuals and peoples; the responsibility we have towards others in a world in which no-one can save themselves on their own. In this context, the Christian Churches are gathering together for prayer and celebration, for reflection and action. It’s an opportunity to deepen their commitment to dialogue, visible unity and common testimony.
Alongside the official delegates’ program are around 100 workshops and stands hosted by various Churches, Communities and Institutions, including the Focolare Movement sharing its own wide-ranging experience of dialogue. The Focolare stand will be supported throughout the Assembly by the team of “Centro Uno” (which coordinates the ecumenical activity of the Focolare internationally), with Focolare members from Germany, Switzerland, Ireland and Romania. On 5 September at 17:00, they will host a workshop on “Dialogue as a lifestyle: methodology and practice”, offering an experience of dialogue between Christians of different Churches, and between Christians and Muslims. A dialogue involving maximum respect of each one’s identity, prioritizing the engagement of theory with life.
The World Council of Churches came into being on 23 August 1948, originally with 147 member Churches. Its principal aim to enable dialogue as the way and characteristic of authentic Christian life. The Focolare Movement’s links with the WCC go back to 1967 when Swiss Reformed theologian Lukas Vischer invited Chiara Lubich to Geneva. On her third visit, in 2002, Chiara also visited the WCC’s Ecumenical Institute at Bossey. WCC General Secretary Rev. Prof. Ioan Sauca has, on more than one occasion, referred to the importance to the Institute of that meeting with Chiara Lubich and her clarity in addressing the often challenging relationship between identity and unity.
Anna Lisa Innocenti