The Methodist-Roman Catholic International Commission (MERCIC) met at the Casa Maria
Immacolata, Rome, Italy, from 2 nd -8 th October 2022, for the first plenary meeting of a new round of
dialogue. The Commission has met without interruption since its foundation in 1967 and now begins
its twelfth round on the theme of unity and mission. The gathering was hosted by the World
Methodist Council with the Methodist Ecumenical Office Rome as the local meeting organizer.
The Commission met with a broad agenda of mission and unity, conscious of the forthcoming
anniversary of the Council of Nicaea, the current needs and developments of both communions, and
the pressing need for unity between us “so that the world may believe” (Jn 17:21). In order to discern
its focus for this round of dialogue, the Commission heard papers on: scripture texts from John 17
and Acts 15; the Missio Dei; hearing the cry of the poor; the Council of Nicaea; synodal and
conferencing practices within our communions; the implications of mission for belief; recognition;
the Wesleyan essentials; and the hierarchy of truths. On the basis of these contributions, the
Commission developed a schema for its future work which will seek to chart a pathway towards unity
with a missiological lens, taking account of the theological convergence that the dialogue has already
The Commission began its meeting on 3 rd October with prayer at Ponte Sant’ Angelo Methodist
Church in Rome, praying the historic Wesleyan Covenant Service together. Commission members
were joined by ecumenical representatives and members of the diplomatic community. The Rev.
Prof. Edgardo Colon-Emeric preached the opening sermon on Ephesians 4, stating the ecumenical call
is perennial, hopeful, and missional. Following the prayer service, the Rev. Deacon Alessandra Trotta,
a Methodist deacon currently serving as the moderator of the governing council (Tavola Valdese) of the Waldensian Evangelical Church (Union of Methodist and Waldensian Churches), addressed the
Commission, describing the current ecumenical challenges for Methodists in Italy as well as the
special union between Methodist and Waldensian churches in Italy. Additionally, Rev. Prof. Daniele
Garrone and Rev. Luca Baratto, respectively the president and the executive secretary of the
Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy, shared with the Commission members the work of the
On Wednesday 5 th October, the Commission met Pope Francis in a private audience and presented to
him the report of the eleventh round of dialogue—God in Christ Reconciling: On the Way to Full
Communion in Faith, Sacraments and Mission. Commenting on the parable of the two sons (Luke
15:11-32)—the text chosen by the Commission for its scriptural reflection—Pope Francis noted that
both Catholics and Methodists need to repent and return to the Father in order for unity to come
about, because through their divisions, both have sinned and strayed from the Father.
The Commission met H.Em. Cardinal Mario Grech and Sr Nathalie Becquart XMCJ, Secretary General
and Undersecretary respectively of the General Secretariat of the Synod, on 5 th October. Following a
shared meal with Commission members, Cardinal Grech and Sr Nathalie explained the current
progress of the synodal process being pursued by the Catholic Church and how ecumenical and inter-
religious voices constituted an important part of the Catholic Church’s listening to the Holy Spirit.
Commission members shared about Methodist theologies of conferencing and discernment,
expressed their hopes and fears for the process, and discussed their own experiences of the synodal
process thus far.
On Thursday, 6 th October, H.E. Chiara Porro, the Australian Ambassador to the Holy See, and her
spouse, Mr Rien Schuurhuis, hosted the Commission for dinner at their residence. Over dinner the
Ambassador explained aspects of the Embassy’s collaboration with the Holy See regarding questions
of environmental justice, the dignity of women, and counter human trafficking.
On Friday, 7 th October, the Commission launched the report of its eleventh round, God in Christ
Reconciling, presenting the text as the first of a new series of Tillard Chair Lectures on the theme of
reconciliation, held at the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas in Rome
[https://youtu.be/B8C35EFJPhk]. The Rev. Prof. Edgardo A. Colón-Emeric, Prof. Catherine E. Clifford,
Dr Clare Watkins, and the Rev. Dr Hermen Shastri, all members who participated in the eleventh
round, presented chapters of the report. The current Catholic co-chair, Bishop Shane Mackinlay, read
a message from the previous co-chairs at the beginning of the presentation.
At the closing dinner on 7 th October, Fr. Anthony Currer, outgoing Catholic co-secretary, was
recognized for his distinguished service to the Commission as he concludes his tenure at the
Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity. Fr. Martin Browne OSB will succeed Fr. Currer as the new
The Commission is grateful to all who met with them and received them so graciously during their
plenary meeting. In particular, the Commission extends its gratitude to the community of the
Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul and all who work at Casa Maria Immacolata for their
gracious hospitality and to the Methodist Ecumenical Office Rome for their excellent organizing.
The Commission will meet again in October 2023.
The Commission is made up of:
Reverend Prof. Edgardo A. Colón–Emeric (Co-Chair), USA
Reverend Matthew A. Laferty (Co-Secretary), Methodist Ecumenical Office, Rome
Dr Jung Choi, Korea/USA
Dr Geordan Hammond, United Kingdom
Bishop Lizzette Gabriel Montalvo, Puerto Rico
Reverend Prof. Glen O’Brien, Australia
Reverend Dr Hermen Shastri, Malaysia
Prof. Lilian Cheelo Siwila, South Africa
Bishop Shane Mackinlay (Co-Chair), Australia
Reverend Anthony Currer (outgoing Co-Secretary), Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, Rome
Reverend Martin Browne OSB (incoming Co-Secretary), Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, Rome
Prof. Catherine E. Clifford, Canada
Reverend Prof. Gerard Kelly, Australia
Sister Prof. MarySylvia Nwachukwu DDL, Nigeria
Reverend Prof. Daniel Franklin Pilario CM, Philippines
Reverend Prof. Jorge Scampini OP, Argentina
Dr Clare Watkins, United Kingdom
Bishop Michael Stephen of the World Methodist Council Steering Committee and former Archbishop of the Methodist Church Nigeria shares the following from the latest news of the kidnapping of the Prelate alongside the Bishop of Owerri Diocese Dennis Mark and the Prelate’s Chaplain, The Very Rev. Shittu, which was received with great shock and sadness when it happened.
“We are thankful that God heard the prayers of the people that went out across the country. After about 24 hours, the news of their release rent the airwaves.
We all are thankful to God for his intervention. This incident points to the state of insecurity that has enveloped our country and the need to request the prayers of the people of God all over the world for divine intervention in the affairs of Nigeria.
We are grateful for the prompt statements and concerns from the World Methodist Council, Africa Methodist Council and other Ecumenical partners.”
President of the World Methodist Council, the Rev. Dr. JC Park, added, “Let’s praise God who rescued the beloved Prelate just as King David praised God when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies. ‘I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, so I shall be saved from my enemies.’ (Psalm 18:3) We want to join the joyful praise of our Nigerian people called Methodists: Worthy is the Lamb!”
In a letter to G20 leaders, global religious leaders representing half a billion Christians in over 100 countries warned that rising global temperatures will have increasingly disastrous consequences on impoverished and vulnerable communities that contribute least to the climate crisis.
Hurricane Eta hit hard on the north coast of Honduras on November 2020. Before the local population has been able to begin recovery hurricane the population is braced for hurricane Iota, now entering the region.
Photo: Sean Hawkey/WCC
“Many of our congregations are already experiencing devastating and intensifying climate impacts and many are also responding with concrete actions and proposals,” reads the letter. “The root cause of the climate emergency is the current development model and ideology that is founded upon fossil fuel-driven economic growth.”
The faith-based groups note that, as some economies have grown wealthier, the climate and frontline communities have paid a heavy price. “Unless a radical change is made to the current economic model, the goals of the Paris Agreement will not be met, and the climate crisis will not be averted,” the letter reads. “Today, humanity is at a turning point. The climate emergency demands deep-seated transformations towards net-zero economies by the middle of the century, within a framework of justice and solidarity.”
And, the letter further notes, these changes must happen within a rapidly closing window of opportunity.
“The path to a just and sustainable future and flourishing earth community is to be found in bold economic policies that re-embed economics in society and ecology, account for social and ecological risks and costs, as well as promote the redistribution of resources to allow space for low- and middle-income countries to combat poverty aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic and to respond to the existential challenge of climate change,” the letter urges. “Economic policies should be directed towards improving the health and wellbeing of communities and the planet as captured by alternative measures including decent work, health, and ecological sustainability, rather than merely increasing income and production.”
The letter urges G20 leaders to release countries, especially those at the forefront of climate change effects, from their onerous and historic external debts. “Debt cancellation would enable indebted climate disaster-stricken countries to break free from costly build-rebuild cycles that force them further into debt,” the letter notes. “It would make available resources for transitioning to a decarbonised economy.”
The letter also urges G20 leaders to implement progressive carbon and pollution taxes at various levels, and to invest heavily in climate protection and the restoration of ecosystems. “In particular, we must privilege such areas as agro-ecology, reforestation and community-based renewable energy systems in our COVID-19 recovery strategies and longer-term plans,” the letter reads. “Now is the time to incentivise a rapid and just transition away from fossil fuels toward clean, renewable energies like solar and wind.”
In a letter to the G20 finance ministers before the International Tax Symposium on 9 July, organizations representing a half billion Christians worldwide urged that it has never been more urgent and necessary to fix our broken global tax system.
Photo: Marcelo Schneider/WCC
The World Council of Churches, World Communion of Reformed Churches, Lutheran World Federation, World Methodist Council, and Council for World Mission urged strong social protection measures in all countries to ensure that the poor and vulnerable are able to weather COVID-19’s unprecedented health and economic consequences.
“The pandemic has revealed once again the importance of people’s access to essential health care and basic income security throughout their lives,” reads the letter. “To date rich countries have spent 35.6 percent of their GDPs on responding to the health emergency and supporting employment and businesses.”
In contrast, low-income countries were only able to expend a meagre 6 percent of their GDPs on fighting the pandemic and are even now struggling to meet the demands of protecting their citizens, the letter notes.
“As the most sustainable source of revenue, tax systems have a pivotal role to play in bolstering social sector initiatives and financing the recovery from the crisis,” the letter continues. “We acknowledge recent efforts by the international community at tax reform, not least the G7 proposal for a 15% global corporate minimum tax.”
The endemic injustices of global poverty, racial inequity, health inequality and climate change are rooted in the legacies of colonial exploitation and resource extraction, and call for systemic change, urges the letter. “The pandemic shows us people’s lives and livelihoods are at stake, at a time when the life of the earth is also under threat, the letter reads. “Not only is tax justice at the heart of any recovery plan, it is crucial for mitigating widening inequality and stepping up to the challenges posed by a rapidly warming climate.”
#SilenceTheGuns, African Resolution by African Leaders for African Conflict
The World Methodist Council (WMC), joins the World Council of Churches (WCC) in its
condemnation of violent attacks in the Tigray region of conflict in Ethiopia. In addition,
WMC General Secretary, Bishop Ivan Abrahams, hears with deep distress that UNHCR, the
UN’s refugee agency, reports that women, children and men have crossed the border at a
rate of 4,000 per day in Tigray, adding to more than 100,000 Eritrean refugees in four camps
in Tigray who were displaced in the 1998-2000 Ethiopia-Eritrea border war.
In the light of WMC’s call on the United Nations to adopt UNSCR 2532 and support a global
ceasefire amidst the Coronavirus (2) pandemic, WMC General Secretary appeals to all
African political, civil and faith leaders in the African Union to support #SilenceTheGuns,
an African initiative to address African problems by Africa’s leaders.
The WMC further notes that AU President, HE President Cyril Ramaphosa, emphasised in a
meeting with Ethiopian Prime Minister, HE Sahle-Work Zewde that “Ethiopia occupies a
place of pride and honour in the history of Africa, having successfully resisted colonialism,
and played a leading role in the decolonization of Africa. The decision of the Founding
Fathers that Africa’s foremost Continental organisation, the Organisation for African Unity
(OAU), should be established and headquartered in Addis Ababa, was a fitting tribute to
Ethiopia’s role as a symbol of African unity.” Ramaphosa indicated, however, that “the
ongoing conflict … is a matter of great concern not only for countries in the region of the
Horn of Africa, but for the continent as a whole.”
Bishop Ivan Abrahams, in response to #SilenceTheGuns initiative, therefore, “calls on the
‘People called Methodist’ as well as all humans globally to be mindful of and work in every
way possible for an end to this historic, regional conflict and to seek the promotion of a
just, peaceful and sustainable solution to this … fragile conflict in Africa.” “We call on all
people who are committed to global solidarity to mourn the unnecessary loss of life and
look to the legacy of historic peace and co-existence that Ethiopia has been and remains
able to contribute toward the future of African co-existence, humanitarian peace and
solidarity.” To this end, the WMC calls on its membership on the African continent and in
the rest of the world to support the African Union President, HE Cyril Ramaphosa’s deep
desire “that the conflict … be brought to an end through dialogue between the conflict
ridden parties and that such initiative be viewed against the background of the African
Union’s objective of #SilenceTheGuns, intended to achieve a conflict-free Africa, prevent
genocide, make peace a reality for all and rid the continent of wars, violent conflicts,
human rights violations, and humanitarian disasters.”
The WMC calls on all to pray, work and call for a just and peaceful resolution to the conflict
raging in Ethiopia’s Tigray region and the Horn of Africa: “God of healing, light and
compassion; we bring to You all who suffer in body, mind or spirit as a result of war and
conflict in Ethiopia or because of fears, suspicions raised by cultural, religious or human
differences. We pray for all who seek refuge, for those who have been displaced from
family, livelihoods or securities. Show them Your mercy and compassion, O Lord and grant
strength to those who seek victims’ relief in any form of distress; for Your Name’s sake.
God bless Africa. Guide her leaders. Guard her children; And give her peace. Amen”
Statement prepared by Keith Vermeulen, Researcher, WMC
The Executive Committee of the Limpopo Synod of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa has the
pleasure of inviting you to the Inaugural Rev. Dr. Stanley Mogoba Lecture.
Dr. Mogoba is the recipient of the 1996 World Methodist Council Peace Award and has spent many years serving the Council.
General Secretary Ivan Abrahams will also be speaking during this lecture. You can join this momentous event by going to the Methodist Church of Southern Africa website (https://methodist.org.za/) and watching the live stream.