Top ecumenical planners from the Vatican and the World Council of Churches conferred once again at Rome December 1–5 with enough straws in the wind to thatch at least a modest common dwelling. One topic was plans for a WCC-Vatican peace consultation at Bossey, Switzerland, next June. Another possibility: Vatican membership in the WCC.

Just before the meeting opened, a special commission of cardinals called for some strategic rewriting of Holland’s liberal, Protestantized “New Catechism.” And at his general audience on the 4th, Pope Paul VI uttered one of his strongest statements against those within the Roman fold who question church traditions. “When it comes to its own teaching,” he vowed, “the Church is intransigent and dogmatic—at any cost.”

Yet the very ferment that troubles the Vatican’s soul could, in a back-door way, further the ecumenical cause, as Catholicism inches toward the loose authority, doctrinal variety, and secular involvement that have characterized recent Protestant history.

Fueling speculation was the Geneva meeting of leaders from the world’s major Protestant confessional groupsLutheran World Federation, Anglican Communion, World Alliance of Reformed Churches, Baptist World Alliance, World Methodist Council, International Congregational Council, World Convention of Churches of Christ (Disciples), Friends World Committee, International Conference of Old Catholic Bishops, Orthodox Patriarchates of Constantinople and Moscow, and the Salvation Army. The 1968 meeting also drew observers from the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Reformed Ecumenical Synod, and the Mennonites may be joining. late last month. The loosely-organized Conference of Secretaries of World Confessional Families has met annually since ...

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