Brixen/Bressanone, Italy - July 13-20, 1996


The 7th annual meeting of the fourth phase of the Catholic-Pentecostal Dialogue was held in Brixen/Bressanone, Italy, July 13-20, 1996. The meeting was co-sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and some Classical Pentecostal churches and leaders.

Since 1990, this Dialogue has focused attention on the topic of Evangelization. It was chosen because Pentecostals and Roman Catholics, like many other Christian communities, have emphasized the importance of evangelization toward the end of this century and especially in the 90s.

John Paul II has put special emphasis during his pontificate on a new evangelization especially in the light of the coming of the year 2000. Pentecostals have also designed and implemented a variety of programs during this decade, aimed at evangelization of the world.

The current phase of the Dialogue has attempted to explore these common interests from several angles. What is the meaning of mission and evangelization as the Church enters its third millennium? Do Catholics and Pentecostals share common biblical and theological foundations for their understanding and practice of evangelization? What challenge does secularization pose to the churches during an era sometimes described as "post-modern "? What weights should the respective communities give to two different activities, the proclamation of the Gospel and the ministry through social justice.

This Dialogue attracts interest because it features the largest Christian group in the world, the Roman Catholic Church with 900,000,000 members, in conversation with the fastest growing group, the Pentecostals.

The active evangelization of the Pentecostals, who are known for engaging in such practices as speaking in tongues and exuberant worship services, has sometimes precipitated conflict between Catholics and Pentecostals. For example, charges of proselytism and persecution have been raised by Catholics and Pentecostals in Latin America. The current Dialogue between these two groups has actively explored these charges in an attempt to find a response to these conflicts.

The fact that members of these two Christian communities have begun such a discussion shows growth in mutual trust and the maturing of a fragile relationship established in 1972. It also leads to the hope that they will find ways to bridge the gap, end the competition, and engage in common witness.

The recent phase of the Dialogue started drafting a report. Preliminary findings suggest that Catholics and Pentecostals have much in common on which they can build provided they can develop further patience and trust with each other. Signs of cooperation have already emerged.

This phase of the Dialogue truly was a journey for the participants. They moved closer together and carne to discover the reality of each other’s faith.

Co-chairmen of the Dialogue are the Rev. Cecil M. Robeck, Jr. (Assemblies of God, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California, USA) and Fr. Kilian McDonnel, OSB (St. John's University, Collegeville, Minnesota, USA).

Pentecostal participants also included: Rev. Ronald Kydd (Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada) who served as co-secretary, Rev. Gary McGee (Assemblies of God, USA); Rev. François Möller (Apostolic Faith Mission, South Africa); Rev. Steve Overman (International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, USA); Rev. Raymond M. Pruitt (Church of God of Prophecy, USA); Rev. Del Tarr (Assemblies of God, USA). Rev. Huibert Zegwaart (Broederschap van Pinkstergemeenten, The Netherlands) attended as an observer.

Roman Catholic participants also included: Fr. Norbert Baumert, S.J. (St. Georgen, Frankfurt/M., Germany); Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap., (Rome, Italy); Fr. John Haughey, S.J. (Loyola University, Chicago, U.S.A.); Fr. Hervé Legrand, O.P. (Institut Catholique, Paris, France); Sr. Helen Rolfson, O.S.F. (St. Johns University, Collegeville, Minnesota, U.S.A.); Msgr. John A. Radano, U.S.A., (Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Vatican City); Msgr. Heinz-Albert Raem, Germany (Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity) who served as co- secretary. Rev. John Redford, (Franciscan Study Center, Canterbury, England); and Rev. Juan Usma Gόmez, Colombia (Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity).


[Information Service 92 (1996/III) 105]