Pope Francis and Reverend Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, Secretary General of the World Council of Churches, met last Friday to discuss new opportunities for Christian unity. The Pope described the meeting as marking "an important chapter in the long and fruitful relationship between the Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches".
Praising the WCC's commitment to unity, the Pope said "Since its creation, the World Council of Churches has offered a great contribution to forming the sensibility of all Christians with regard to the fact that our divisions represent a major obstacle to our witness to the Gospel in the world."
Stressing the centrality of unity to the Christian message and beating back scepticism, the Pope said: "These divisions must not be accepted with resignation, as if they were simply an inevitable component of the historic experience of the Church. "If Christians ignore the Lord's call to unity, they risk ignoring the Lord Himself and the salvation He offers."
Dr Tveit praised Pope Francis for his continuing work in ministering to the poor and his efforts towards peace in Syria. He was particually supportive of the Pope's recent Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, saying: "The WCC rejoices that the call to work for justice and peace, in deep Christian solidarity and for the benefit of all human beings, is seen as a gospel imperative by so many parts of the Christian family."