Methodist-Catholic Dialogue Issues Statement On Connection Between Eucharist, Environmental Stewardship

April 23, 2012 By Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTON—Both Methodists andCatholics believe their celebration of the Eucharist helps them to see God’sglory in all of creation and therefore leads to greater care for theenvironment, according to a new joint statement produced by the United States dialoguebetween the United Methodist Church (UMC) and the Catholic Church. Thestatement, “Heaven and Earth are Full of Your Glory,” was issued April 20, aheadof the traditional observance of Earth Day.

Bishop William Skylstad, retiredbishop of Spokane, Washington, and Methodist Bishop Timothy Whitaker of the UMCFlorida Conference co-chaired the dialogue.

Gathering semiannually between thefall of 2008 and summer 2011, the seventh round of the Methodist-Catholicdialogue sought to build on the newfound unity between the UMC and the CatholicChurch when the Methodists signed onto the Catholic-Lutheran Joint Declarationon Justification—an agreement dispelling the centuries-old disagreement on howpeople are made just before God—in 2006. The dialogue partners agreed toexplore a major issue affecting the common good and chose environmentalstewardship.

“We call both Methodists andCatholics to participate more deeply in the Eucharist by recognizing itsintrinsic connection with the renewal of creation,” the statement said. “TheEucharist is regarded as the central form of Christian worship because itorchestrates all that humans are and can be on this earth—our senses,abilities, talents, gifts, and intelligence—and offers them back to God theFather in thanksgiving for the Paschal victory of his Son.”

The statement notes that elements ofnature—grain for bread and grapes for wine—become part of salvation through theEucharist and that salvation itself is an act of God at work in all of creationand all creation encountering God. This has implications for believers in theirrelationship with God’s creation in the environment.

Catholic participants in thedialogue included Jesuit Father Drew Christiansen, editor of America Magazine;Msgr. Kevin Irwin, dean of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at TheCatholic University of America in Washington; Connie Lasher, Ph.D., Santa ClaraUniversity in Santa Clara, California; and Angela Russell Christman, Ph.D., ofLoyola College in Baltimore. Methodist participants included Sondra Wheeler ofWesley Theological Seminary in Washington; Karen Westerfield Tucker of BostonUniversity School of Theology; Kendall Soulen of Wesley Theological Seminary;Edgardo Colon-Emeric of Duke University Divinity School in Durham, NorthCarolina; L. Edward Phillips of Emery University in Atlanta; and Glen AltonMesser II, Ph.D., the assistant general secretary of the General Commission onChristian Unity and Interreligious Concerns of the UMC.

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