WMC Celebrate 50 Years of Methodist-Catholic Dialogue, Meets with Pope Francis

19 October 2017 — Rome, Italy

A delegation consisting of the World Methodist Council (WMC) Steering Committee, Pastor Mirella Manocchio – President of L’Opera per le Chiese Evangeliche Metodiste in Italia (OPCEMI) , as well as members of the Methodist Roman Catholic International Commission for dialogue (MERCIC) met with Pope Francis in the Consistory Hall at the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican, Rome. Bishop Ivan Abrahams, General Secretary of the World Methodist Council, delivered an address to the Pope, to which the Pope responded.

Bishop Abrahams reflected on the occasion saying, “During this, our Golden Jubilee, 50 years of dialogue between the Methodist and Catholic Churches, we are grateful for the foundation which has been laid to further our conversations toward unity as one body in Christ. Pope Francis stated in his address that we must ‘remain together, like the disciples awaiting the Spirit, and as brothers and sisters on a shared journey.’ On this journey, we hope to strengthen and encourage one another, and most importantly, learn from each other.” In an interview with Vatican Radio earlier in the week, he commended Pope Francis for being “a beacon of hope” and “somebody who embodies the unity that we’re seeking to live”.

Following the Papal audience, members and representatives of both the Catholic and Methodist Churches celebrated 50 years of ongoing dialogue with lectures by Dr. Clare Watkins (University of Roaehampton) and Mrs. Gillian Kingston, (Vice President of the WMC) and reflections at Centro Pro Unione. The day concluded with a worship service at the Oratory of St. Francis Xavier “del Caravita”, home to the Caravita Community, an international English-language Catholic community in Rome. The service was presided over by Bishop Brian Farrell, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, and a sermon was given by Bishop Ivan Abrahams. Hymns were sung honoring both faith traditions.

Rev. Dr. Tim Macquiban, chair of the Ecumenical Relationships Committee of the World Methodist Council and director of the Methodist Ecumenical Office in Rome (MEOR), shared that this day built on last year’s launch of MEOR by cementing relationships between Catholics and Methodists with a presence in Rome which offered hospitality, encouraged education in ecumenism and furthered the warm conversations surrounded by prayer and action of the two world communions.

While the celebrations have concluded, MERCIC will continue meeting through Saturday in their first dialogue meeting of the quinquennium, taking the theme of “Reconciliation.”

The Reports of the MERCIC dialogues may be found online at worldmethodistcouncil.org/resources/ecumenical-dialogues.

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