“We take our commitment to common proclamation seriously.”

Council President of the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches, Gottfried Locher, and Bishop Norbert Brunner, President of the Swiss Bishops’ Conference, speak on the tenth anniversary of the signing of the Charta Oecumenica, one of Europe’s most important ecumenical documents since the turn of the millennium.

With the Charta Oecumenica, now ten years old, “the churches commit themselves to dialogue and cooperation.” Those were the words used in a joint statement issued by Bishop Norbert Brunner, President of the Swiss Bishops’ Conference (SBC), and Council President of the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches (FSPC), Gottfried Locher. The programmatic ecumenical document was signed in 2001 by the presidents of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CEEC). The European churches committed themselves to the “common proclamation of the Gospel, in both word and deed, for the salvation of all” and to work toward the visible unity of the church.

“The FSPC takes this commitment to the common proclamation seriously. Churches that proclaim the Gospel together gain in credibility,” said Gottfried Locher on the occasion of the anniversary being marked by the CEC and the CCEE today in Fribourg, Switzerland. He explained that it was therefore necessary for us to continue to take bold steps toward each other across confessional boundaries, despite any resistance. “The numerous self-commitments of the Charta Oecumenica should be more than just nice words,” Locher continued. “Visible unity does not grow chiefly through external structures but through the inner strength of the faith of our churches.”

Ten years after its signing, important segments of the Charta still have yet to be implemented. With a view to ecumenical difficulties, Bishop Norbert Brunner emphasized that “the Charta rightfully views dialogue and cooperation not as means unto themselves but as prerequisites to the goal of the ecumenical movement of bringing together humanity into one Church of Jesus.” The FSPC president stressed that the Charta Oecumenica was a document for the grassroots of the church as well. “I am happy to see congregations in which the Charta is lived out and has become part of the self-image of the church. That was the intention and hope of the agreement ten years ago.” The document was signed in Switzerland by the country’s National Ecumenical Council in 2005.

Swiss Bishops’ Conference SBC/Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches FSPC