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World Council of Churches head and Pope to pray together


Pope Benedict XVI and the Rev. Samuel Kobia, the general secretary of the World Council of Churches, will meet in Rome on 25 January, at a ceremony to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
The WCC said in a statement on 21 January that Kobia will meet the Pope in a private audience along with members of the Joint Working Group of the Roman Catholic Church and the WCC, during a yearly working group meeting in Rome from 21-26 January.

The group is an advisory body on areas of common concern between the Catholic Church, the world’s largest church and the WCC, the largest grouping of churches.

Pope Benedict will preside at an ecumenical Vespers service, at Rome’s Basilica of St. Paul’s Outside-the-Walls at 5:30 p.m. on 25 January. During the service, Kobia will bring greetings on behalf of the 347 churches constituting the WCC.

The ecumenical service concludes the 18-25 January period during which the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is traditionally observed in the Northern Hemisphere. In the global South the days around Pentecost are often favoured. The year 2008 marks the 100th anniversary of the week of prayer, which every year is celebrated by millions of Christians all over the world.

On 20 January in Geneva, an ecumenical service at the WCC headquarters to mark the prayer week brought together leaders of the city’s main Christian denominations and of international church groups. "Let us praise God together and pray that even more unity will be possible in the years to come," Kobia said at the opening of the service.

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has for 40 years been jointly prepared by the WCC’s Commission on Faith and Order and the Catholic Church’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

The WCC brings together 347 churches, denominations and church fellowships in more than 110 countries and territories throughout the world, representing more than 560 million Christians and includes most of the world’s Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant churches. The Catholic Church is not a member of the WCC but cooperates with it in many areas, and has members on a number of its committees, including the Commission on Faith and Order.

Ecumenical News International