Riano,  Italy, May 21-26, 1985


A third series of theological dialogue was began between the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity of the Roman Catholic Church and certain representatives of the classical Pentecostal churches May 21-26, 1985. The Ecumenical Center "Taddeide" in Riano, a few miles from Rome, was the site of the week-long meetings. This was the eleventh session since the first dialogue was held in 1972, and the first in a new five-year series, called a Quinquennium.

The topic for discussion was the "Communion of Saints." The Pentecostal paper was co-authored by Dr. Peter Kuzmič, director of the Biblijsko Teološki Institut in Zagreb, Yugoslavia and Mr. Miroslav Volf, teaching at the same institution, presently at the University of Tübingen, West Germany. The Roman Catholic paper was presented by Fr. Hervé Legrand, OP, a professor in the Faculty of Theology at the Institut Catholique, Paris, France.

The term "Communion of Saints" has several meanings - the fellowship of Christians in the Church based on their fellowship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; the participation in the holy realities, notably the Holy Communion; and the company of the people of God in all times and places. Special attention was given to the way in which the fellowship of believers comes into being and the way it has been manifested and organized. Roman Catholic and Pentecostal understandings of this were stated and an attempt begun to find some common understandings.

Each day of the dialogue began and ended with a joint time of prayer and Scripture reading. The dialogue session concluded on Pentecost Sunday morning with a joint act of worship. Fr. John Haughey, SJ, of Seton Hall University, South Orange, New Jersey, and Rev. Justus T. du Plessis, Pentecostal chairman of the dialogue, Faerie Glen, Pretoria, South Africa, led the full dialogue team in this Pentecost Day worship service.

A high point during the week was the visit of Cardinal Willebrands, President of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity in Rome. During his visit he gave a brief impromptu address in which he stressed the importance of this dialogue to the whole ecumenical movement and the valuable contribution it could make to the unity among all Christians. He emphasized that the Holy Spirit is the primary source of all Christian unity.

Other Pentecostal participants at the dialogue included Rev. David. J. du Plessis (co-chairman emeritus), Pasadena, California; Rev. Jerry L. Sandidge (co-secretary), Houston, Texas; Dr. Howard M. Ervin, Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Rev. Alfred F. Missen, Nottingham, England. Pentecostal observers to the dialogue consisted of Dr. Del Tarr, Fresno, California; Rev. Silvano Lilli, Rome, Italy; and with official representation from the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel were Rev. Mitchell Belobaba and Rev. (Mrs.) Rose Belobaba, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and Mr. Dan Crotty, Ventura, California.

Other Roman Catholic participants included Fr. Kilian McDonnell, OSB, (co-chairman), Collegeville, Minnesota; Msgr. Basil Meeking (co-secretary), and Fr. John A. Radano, of the Secretariat in Rome; Prf. Dr. Heribert Mühlen, Paderborn, West Germany; Fr. John Redford, London, England; and Sr. Helen Rolfson, OSF, Collegeville, Minnesota.

The next Roman Catholic/Pentecostal Dialogue will be May 24-31, 1986, hosted by the Pentecostals, somewhere in the United States. There will be a continuation of discussion on certain aspects of the "Communion of Saints".

Riano, Italy, May 25, 1985


[Information Service 57 (1985/I) 14-15]