Roman Catholic membership in the World Council of Churches is “not envisaged at the moment, and is not likely to occur in the near future.”

With this statement on the eve of the June 10 papal visit to Geneva’s Ecumenical Center, WCC officials put an end to speculation. Pope Paul VI himself raised and answered the question again when, during his visit, he said: “In fraternal frankness, we do not consider that the question of membership of the Catholic Church in the World Council is so mature that a positive answer could or should be given. The question remains an hypothesis. It contains serious theological and pastoral implications. It thus requires profound study and commits us to a way that honesty recognizes could be long and difficult.”

Pope Paul’s visit to the city of Calvin was the result of an initial invitation for him to address the fiftieth-anniversary conference of the International Labour Organization, a division of the United Nations with strong Vatican ties. After accepting, the Pope indicated a desire to visit the headquarters of the World Council of Churches. An official invitation was then sent to Rome by the WCC general secretary, Dr. Eugene Carson Blake.

Predictably, there was opposition to the Pope’s visit, both in and out of Geneva. This caused the president of the Council d’Etat, M. Gilbert Duboule, to affirm: “Geneva is not denying her past. But her authorities are concerned that each person shows an open-mindedness and tolerance, in order to give the papal visit the dignity it deserves.” He added that the Pope himself had requested a public announcement that “he would wish to cause as little embarrassment as possible to those who do not welcome his presence.”

Swiss Protestants, led by the local Evangelical ...

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