Reformed-Catholic Dialogue Presents Papers on Eucharist

March 4, 2009 By Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTON—The seventh round of the Reformed-Catholic Dialogue continued its discussion on the Eucharist during its February 10-13 meeting at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. Participants presented drafts of a document addressing the following five areas: Action of the Holy Spirit in relation to the Eucharist; Remembrance in the Eucharist; Presence of Christ in the Eucharist; Eucharist as sacrifice and offering; and Discipleship in relation to the Eucharist.

Reformed co-chair, Rev. Richard Mouw of Fuller Theological Seminary, noted that the doctrine of the Church (ecclesiology) "looms large in any discussion of Eucharist" and can help Catholics and Reformed Christians clarify their positions and avoid polemical statements.

Rev. John Riggs, a United Church of Christ theologian, said "the original Reformed tradition wanted Eucharist to be a means of grace by which the union among believers in Christ is enacted" and so the manner of Christ's presence in the bread and wine was of subordinate concern. Today, Reformed Christians are more willing than were previous generations to affirm that they encounter the presence of Christ in a distinctive way in the Eucharist. However, Reformed Christians refrain from the language of offering the Eucharist as a sacrifice to the Father and do not localize Christ's presence to the elements of bread and wine, in contrast to Catholic practice.

Significantly, the dialogue continued to explore the ways in which contemporary forms of Eucharistic worship open up new avenues of mutual understanding between Catholic and Reformed Christians.

Progress on the design of a common document on the Eucharist focused on insuring that both convergences and divergences are understandable to potential readers. Two working group meetings are planned for the Fall of 2009 and the Spring of 2010. A common text will be approved by all participants by e-mail and discussed at the final meeting of the Round in the Fall of 2010, with the hope that it will be accepted as a document representative of this concluding phase of the Seventh Round of dialogue.

Catholic dialogue participants included Bishop Patrick R. Cooney of Gaylord, Michigan, co-chair, Ralph Del Colle, Ph.D., Missionary of the Precious Blood Joyce A. Zimmerman, Franciscan Father Dennis E. Tamburello, Father Dennis McManus, Capuchin Father Thomas Weinandy, Father Francis V. Tiso, and Father James Massa.

Reformed Church in America participants included Rev. Renee House and Rev. John Paarlberg. Christian Reformed Church participants included Sue Rozeboom and Rev. Dr. Lyle Bierma and Rev. Dr. Ronald Feenstra. Presbyterian Church USA participants included Rev. Dr. Mouw (co-chair), Rev. Dr. Martha Moore-Keish and Rev. Robina Winbush. United Church of Christ participants included Rev. Dr. Sidney D. Fowler and Rev. Dr. Riggs.
Rev. Dr. Scott Ickert was an observer from the Lutheran Evangelical Church of America.