The World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit expressed "profound thanks" on 27 February for the ministry and witness of Pope Benedict XVI as he officially completed his service as head of the Catholic Church. Pope Benedict had announced his departure earlier in the month, effective 28 February.
"On the occasion of your resignation from the Apostolic See of Rome and the Petrine ministry, we in the ecumenical movement pause to recall your many contributions to the life of the Church and the world, and to wish you well as your ministry of prayer and meditation continues," said Tveit in his letter.
Remembering Benedict's engagement with the WCC Commission on Faith and Order as a Catholic professor of theology in 1971, Tveit honoured Benedict's contributions to Christian unity.
"In looking from an ecumenical perspective over your entire service to the church, the World Council of Churches is grateful for your devotion to the quest for Christian unity as a pattern for the unity of all humanity," he stated.
In his letter, Tveit mentioned Benedict's "partnership in ministry" from which, he said, the WCC has benefited. He also expressed thanks for the pope's support to Catholic representatives in WCC events, the Joint Working Group between the Roman Catholic Church and the WCC, the Faith and Order Commission, the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism, as well as in independent initiatives such as the Global Christian Forum.
Remembering his meetings with Benedict XVI in Rome, 2010, and at the Day of Prayer for Peace in the World in Assisi, 2011, Tveit said, "Our conversations have left me with a conviction of the importance of strengthening already strong relations that enable Christians of many backgrounds to pray together, work together and rededicate ourselves to unity in faith."
The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, today the WCC brings together 349 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians in over 110 countries, and works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, from the [Lutheran] Church of Norway.