(Vatican Radio) Catholic and Methodist leaders are gathering in Assisi this week for a meeting of their Joint International Commission, reflecting on ‘The Call to Holiness’ in their two different traditions.
Theological conversations between Catholics and Methodists began just after the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council and have already produced nine reports on areas of belief and practise that are common to the two Churches. At the Assisi meeting, which runs until October 17th, members of the Commission are working towards completion of a new document on the understanding of holiness which should be completed in 2016.
Canadian Bishop Don Bolen and English Rev David Chapman are the respective Catholic and Methodist co-chairs of the dialogue. They sat down with Philippa Hitchen to talk about the history and fruits of this Commission, as well as the impact Pope Francis is having on the ecumenical endeavour…
David: The dialogue began in the immediate aftermath of the Second Vatican Council….the formal conversation began in 1967…..and for the World Methodist Council, this is our most important and significant theological dialogue…
The Methodist churches around the world are Protestant communities, but their historical origins begin in a desire to ‘reform the reform,’ and the way of life in Methodism of holy living resonated with the teaching of the Catholic Church about the universal call to holiness….we have a great deal in common with the Catholic Church in terms of discipleship and since the 1970s the dialogue has focused on consolidating that sense of convergence…..a particular achievement has been that the World Methodist Council has become a co-signatory to the Joint Document on the Doctrine of Justification between the Catholic Church and the World Lutheran Federation….
Don: The Methodist-Catholic dialogue has kind of taken us by surprise, we found more convergence than we thought we would find….a deep affection has grown between members of our Churches rather easily….
The dialogue works on 5 year cycles and has produced 9 reports - these reports aren’t terribly well known - on increasing common agreement on the subjects we’re addressed……I love the Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue to which much of my life has been dedicated, but I would say there is so much expectation to produce results and the Methodist-Catholic dialogue hasn’t lived under that burden of expectations….