WILLEM Adolf Visser 't Hooft is to the World Council of Churches about what Dag Hammarskjold was to the U.N. As the Council's General Secretary, he builds church unity by accenting common beliefs, by deprecating differences, by shunning extravagant or unripe measures. Yet a quiet faith that all Christians, including Roman Catholics, must eventually unite gives his life a clear direction. It is a just barely permissible joke among his closest friends to call Visser 't Hooft "the Protestant Pope." He replies with a wintry "I'm not infallible"—which is a rueful recognition...

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