VATICAN CITY — On Friday the Vatican confirmed an earlier announcement by the Swiss government that Pope Francis will visit Switzerland in June to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the World Council of Churches.
Vatican spokesman Greg Burke announced the visit March 2, saying the day trip will take place June 21. No official schedule has been released; however, details of the visit are expected to be published soon.
Founded in 1948, the World Council of Churches (WCC) is a global fellowship of churches seeking to foster unity among different Christian confessions and has some 348 members worldwide.
Members are present in 110 countries and represent more than 500 million Christians, including Orthodox, Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran and Methodist churches, as well as many Reformed, United and Independent churches.
While the majority of the founding members came from Europe and North America, currently the bulk of the WCC membership is in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, the Middle East and the Pacific.
The Holy See is not a member of the WCC, but it is an observer and routinely sends representatives to the organization’s meetings.
Though official details of the visit have yet to be announced, Swiss authorities have said that Pope Francis will be welcomed by a delegation from the Swiss Federal Council led by Swiss President Alain Berset.
The two are expected to hold official talks before Francis goes to the WCC headquarters for the anniversary celebration.
St. John Paul II was the last Pope to visit Geneva, stopping there in 2004 as part of a six-day pastoral visit to the country. A large number of the Swiss population are Christian, the majority belonging to the Catholic Church.