Methodists, Catholics Begin Drafting Report for the Churches

WASHINGTON — The United Methodist-Roman Catholic Dialogue met at the Washington Retreat House, March 22-24. After several years of historical, theological and biblical research on the theme The Church in Each Place and in All Places, the members of the dialogue have begun to draft a report for the churches as a result of their work.

According to participants, years of common ministry around the world have enabled Methodists and Catholics to understand each other more deeply. International dialogues involving the Holy See and the World Methodist Council, regular dialogues between the United Methodist Church and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and local dialogues in dioceses/annual conferences and congregations around the country have enriched common insight and deepened the spiritual commitment to overcome the scandal of division between these two traditions.

Members of the dialogue believe that the contribution of theologians on behalf of their sponsoring churches is a resource for all United Methodists and Catholics in living the Christian life, engaging in mission in the world, and understanding the Church and its unity.

It is anticipated that the statement of the dialogue will contribute a modest step on the road to full, visible unity between Catholics and United Methodists to which both churches are committed. It will examine the theology of communion (Koinonia, Communio) as a perspective through which to look at the mission, structure, sacramental life, and witness of these two communities in their parishes and congregations, conferences and dioceses, and understandings of the Church universal and global. It is hoped that this text will challenge the churches to deepen their life together and to intensify the theological dialogue that will help resolve those issues that continue to hinder full communion.

The dialogue is co-chaired by Walter Klaiber, United Methodist bishop of Frankfurt, and Auxiliary Bishop Frederick Campbell of St. Paul-Minneapolis. The drafting work will continue at the next meeting in October.