Fri 24 Mar 2023 by Glyn Jones
A plan by the World Council of Churches to bring Christian leaders from Russia and Ukraine together to discuss steps to end the war has received support from Pope Francis.
The General Secretary of the World Council (the WCC) met with the 86 year old Pope in the Vatican and plans for the round table discussions were at the top of the agenda.
Rev Prof Dr Jerry Pillay says “Francis responded very positively to the initiative and certainly felt that we were actually on the right track in seeking to do that.”
The South African academic who now leads the international organisation tells Premier the Pope offered a “great sense of affirmation and confirmation”.
Dr Pillay added, “The emphasis in terms of the conversation is the fact that we really need to focus on Jesus Christ and how belief in Christ steers us into working towards peace.”
Almost all UK churches belong to the World Council. Since the start of the war the organisation has resisted calls from some members for it to expel the Russian Orthodox Church and its leader Patriarch Kirill.
General Secretary Pillay defends that decision, but stresses that the World Council has “condemned the war” and rejects any language that suggests a bible-based justification for the Russian invasion.
Dr Pillay sees the meeting with the Pope as a positive step towards bringing Christian leaders from Ukraine and Russia into the same room for the peace summit.
“Prayer must give birth to action and what I’ve described in terms of putting together a round table are ways in which the WCC and also the Roman Catholic Church and other churches Orthodox Churches will work with us in giving action to possibilities of reconciliation and peace.”