United Methodist-Catholic Dialogue Continues Its Work On Text Concerning The Nature Of The Church

October 20, 2004 By Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTON (October 20, 2004) — The eighth meeting of the sixth round of the United Methodist- Catholic Dialogue met here recently to continue drafting a document entitled The Church in Each Place and in All Places.

The 30-page draft text outlines agreements on the nature of the Church as communion, perspectives the two churches bring to the understanding of church, and recommendations to the sponsoring bodies, the United Methodist Church and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

The meeting was held October 15-17 at St. Paul's College here under the leadership of United Methodist Bishop Walter Klaiber of Frankfurt.

Bishop Frederick F. Campbell is the Catholic cochair of the dialogue. He was absent from the meeting because of his appointment October 14 as Bishop of Columbus.

The theology of communion (Koinonia) reflecting the common faith expressed in both churches is the basis on which the scholars are working to provide the churches with new insights leading toward full visible unity. The text itself will deal with the biblical and theological foundations of the church as a grace-filled sacramental community.

Sections cover the parallel structures of United Methodism and Catholicism. Both understand the church to have a universal, global, and local dimension, though these are understood differently. Both have bishops and intermediate structures, dioceses/conferences, which serve the sacramental unity of the church. Both have dynamics of communion: baptism, Eucharist and mission which, though understood differently, are rooted in a common faith in Christ's vision for the church and its role in the world.

The text will end with a final section "Living out the Vision of Communion" which will outline what can be done now on the basis of the unity already shared, what challenges for renewal and conversion face the churches as they learn from each other, what further can be done in mission in today's world, and what issues should be taken up in future dialogues.

This round of dialogues on the church builds on over thirty years of international dialogues between the World Methodist Council and the Holy See and previous United Methodist-United States Conference of Catholic Bishops dialogues. The goal of these dialogues is full visible unity between the churches.

The topics is timely as Catholics and Methodists explore how to inculturate the church in a variety of situations around the world and to witness to the universality of the Gospel in an increasingly globalized culture.

The dialogue members were hosted for vespers and dinner by the Dominican House of Studies in Washington.