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Rome Reports

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The reasons for Pope Francis' trip to Switzerland June 21

Pope Francis will travel to Geneva June 21 to celebrate 70 years of an important ecumenical institution: the World Council of Churches.

This body was formed in 1948 as the result of decades of dialogue between Orthodox, Anglicans, Lutherans, Baptists, Methodists, and others.

The organization represents 560 million Christians from 110 countries. It promotes the unity of Christians, respecting the diversity of all its members.

The Catholic Church is not an official part of the Council, but participates in some areas as a full member.

The pope is scheduled to arrive in Switzerland at 10 o'clock in the morning. He will hold a meeting with the president at the airport, and then travel to the World Council of Churches to participate in an ecumenical prayer. 

He will eat lunch with some of the group's leaders, and at 3:45 p.m., there will be another ecumenical meeting. Then, Pope Francis will celebrate a Mass for the Catholics of the country. At 8 p.m. the pope is scheduled to depart for Rome, and he will arrive almost two hours later.

John Paul II and Paul VI also visited the World Council of Churches, but within the framework of a broader pastoral journey. Pope Francis will travel to Switzerland strictly to be with them.