Congratulations to Vatican’s Council for Christian Unity on 60th anniversary

Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Photo: LWF/M. Renaux
Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Photo: LWF/M. Renaux

LWF’s General Secretary sends greetings to PCPCU President recalling longstanding ecumenical relationship 

(LWI) - The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) General Secretary, Rev. Dr Martin Junge has sent greetings to the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU), Cardinal Kurt Koch, to mark the 60thanniversary of the founding of the Vatican’s ecumenical office. 

In the congratulatory letter, the Lutheran leader says that, for the past sixty years, this office has “forged a way forward on the path of ecumenism”. Even before the Second Vatican Council, Junge notes, the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, under the “visionary leadership of Cardinal Bea began working on the direction of the Council and supported it with several significant documents, including the ground-breaking statement on ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio.” 

The Secretariat was established on 5 June 1960 by Pope John XXIII in order to facilitate the participation of non-Catholic observers at the Second Vatican Council. That landmark meeting of Catholic bishops from around the globe opened two years later in October 1962 and concluded its final session in December 1965. The Secretariat was renamed in 1988 to become the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. 

Fruitful bilateral relations  

In his letter to the Swiss cardinal, Junge writes that the PCPCU and the LWF have had a longstanding and fruitful relationship, beginning in 1965 with the first bilateral Lutheran-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity. The Lutheran leader recalls several important documents produced by the Commission, including the 1980 All Under One Christ and the 1999 Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification which, he says, “guides our ecumenical work to this day.” 

Together, our continued ecumenical engagement needs to be accountable to both God’s call and the longing of our people for unity.
LWF General Secretary, Rev. Dr Martin Junge

Junge also recalls the historic joint commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation with Pope Francis which took place in Sweden in October 2016. He expresses “deep appreciation to the PCPCU for its work and witness” as it ensures that “the ecumenical task remains at the heart of the Catholic Church.” The Lutheran leader insists that: “Together, our continued ecumenical engagement needs to be accountable to both God’s call and the longing of our people for unity.” 

Junge thanks Cardinal Koch for his leadership of the Pontifical Council, quoting the words of LWF President, Archbishop Panti Filibus Musa to  Pope Francis on the occasion of their first encounter in the Vatican: “We have begun our irreversible journey from conflict to communion and we do not wish to let it cease ever again.” 

On this the 60th anniversary, the letter affirms that “the Lutheran World Federation rejoices with you and the whole church giving thanks to God for the witness to the Gospel call: ut unum sint (that they may be one).”