The Reverend Samuel Kobia, the WCC's secretary-general, and a delegation arrived in Rome today and are scheduled to meet with representatives of the Catholic Church, according to a statement from the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
"The visit, scheduled months ago, is part of the praxis of relations with the Geneva organization and with the previous official visits of its secretaries-general to Rome," explained the announcement.
Secretary-general Kobia's meeting with the Pope on Thursday will include a private audience. It will be their first meeting in their current positions. A press conference is scheduled after the meeting.
The papal audience will be the climax of the WCC officials' visit to the Vatican, which also includes meetings with the heads of four pontifical councils and a courtesy call to the Vatican secretary of state.
Kobia will be accompanied on his visit to Rome by the WCC's president, Bishop Eberhardt Renz from the Evangelical Church in Germany, and central committee member Archbishop Makarios of Kenya and Irinoupolis, from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa.
The Roman Catholic Church is not a member of the WCC but, since the end of the Second Vatican Council, has worked cooperatively with it in several areas. It is also a full member of two WCC commissions: Faith and Order, and World Mission and Evangelism.
Father Joseph Ratzinger, the future Benedict XVI, was a member of the Faith and Order Commission from 1968 to 1975.