Bossey students strengthen ecumenical ties in Rome
Sunday service hosted by Cardinal Koch during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. © Benjamin Simon/WCC
27 January 2017
As another academic term is coming to an end at the Bossey Ecumenical Institute, 35 international students and faculty have visited the Vatican in Rome, to celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, engage in ecumenical dialogue, and to learn more about a variety of churches’ work towards Christian unity.
The students were invited by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU), and have been hosted by H.E. Cardinal Kurt Koch and Father Andrée Choromanski. Relations between the Ecumenical Institute and the PCPCU are long-standing, and since 2012, Rev. Fr Dr Lawrence Iwuamadi works at the Ecumenical Institute on secondment from the Vatican, as professor of Ecumenical Biblical Hermeneutics.
“This visit is one in a series of consecutive visits invited by the PCPCU during the Week of Prayer,” explains Lawrence. “The trip means an opportunity to learn about, and experience, the ecumenical engagement of the Roman Catholic Church, to pray together and to see clearly the bonds that tie us all together as brothers and sisters in Christ.”
“This became especially clear during the audience with Pope Francis on Wednesday,” Lawrence adds, “as the pope expressly noted the work of the Ecumenical Institute.”
On Sunday, the Bossey students and staff celebrated mass together with Cardinal Koch, in which bridges across divisions were symbolically edified by children - following a liturgy used worldwide during the Week of Prayer.
“The Sunday service here was a clear example of the sense of fellowship between our different church traditions,” reflects Rev. Dr Benjamin Simon, Professor of Ecumenical Missiology and another Bossey faculty member accompanying the students in Rome. “But during this week we have met not only the PCPCU, but also representatives of the Anglican Communion, the Loretto-Sisters, White Fathers, Notre-Dame de Sion, the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Fokolare Movement and the ecumenical lay Community of Sant’ Egidio, for example,” Simon adds. “So we have also experienced some of the great diversity of ecumenical engagement here in Rome, both within and among faith communities.”
“As the students finish their studies at the Ecumenical Institute, it is our hope that they continue to seek and build new ecumenical relationships between faith communities in their home contexts,” says Fr Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca, World Council of Churches associate general secretary and director of the Ecumenical Institute. “The annual trip to Rome can be one more step along the way towards discovering the full richness of the ecumenical movement, not only for the students, but also for all our Bossey staff, which is why we have invited also our librarian Valérie Kim and our receptionist Floriane Groß to accompany us this year,” he concludes.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, traditionally celebrated annually from 18-25 January in the northern hemisphere, or during Pentecost in the global South, invites Christians worldwide to dedicate spiritual time for the sacred cause of Christian unity and to meet in prayer, regardless of their church or denominational identity.