Kappel Am Albis, Switzerland, 23-30 July, 1994


The 5th meeting of the fourth phase of the Roman Catholic/Pentecostal Dialogue was held in Kappel am Albis, Switzerland, July 23-30, 1994. The meeting was co-sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and several Classical Pentecostal churches and leaders.

Rev. Cecil M. Robeck, Jr. (Assemblies of God, Pasadena, California, U.S.A) served as co-chairman and Rev. Ronald Kydd (The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, Keene, Ontario, Canada), as co-secretary, on the Pentecostal side. Fr. Kilian McDonnell, O.S.B. (St. John's University, Collegeville, Minnesota, U.S.A.) was co-chairman and Rev. Heinz-Albert Raem (Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Vatican City), co-secretary on the Catholic side. Other members of the Steering Committee were: Rev. James D. Jenkins (Church of God, Cleveland, Tennessee, U.S.A.); Msgr. John A. Radano (Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Vatican City).

Two presentations were given: by Fr. Karl MulIer, S.V.D. (St. Augustin, Germany) for the Roman Catholic team and Cecil M. Robeck, Jr., for the Pentecostal team. In these papers the respective views on evangelization, witness and proselytism were brought forward.

The goal of the dialogue is the deepening of mutual understanding and respect, not organic or structural unity. There was mutual reaffirmation of the importance of this dialogue in order to discover areas of agreement, convergence, disagreement and areas where further study is needed.

On both sides, the responsibility of evangelization is seen as a central feature of theology and practice. Both understand evangelization as encompassing missionary proclamation to non-believers, as well as outreach to those who have been exposed to the Gospel, but do not embrace it whole-heartedly. Differences arose over the definition of those who do not demonstrate living faith and other ways to communicate the Gospel with sensitivity. However, there was agreement that evangelization should never include coercion or the use of means incompatible with the Gospel message. We recognize that prejudices persist on both sides. A step toward overcoming them would be the recognition of the principle that one group should not compare its own ideal with the other group' s weaknesses.

The discussions were conducted in a spirit of candour, mutual trust and appreciation. The formal dialogue sessions were preceded and followed by devotional services, led alternately by members of the two teams. The dialogue was honored by a visit of Prof. Emeritus Walter Hollenweger of the University of Birmingham, a recognized authority on global Pentecostalism who was present during the sessions on one afternoon and shared stimulating observations on the future of the Roman Catholic/Pentecostal relations with the group.

Pentecostal participants also included: Rev. Cheryl Bridges Johns (Church of God, Cleveland, Tennessee, U.S.A.); Rev. Steven J. Land (Church of God, Cleveland, Tennessee, U.S.A.); Rev. Steve Overman (International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, Eugene, Oregon, U.S.A.); Rev. Raymond M. Pruitt (Church of God of Prophecy, Cleveland, Tennesee, U.S.A.) and Rev. Miroslav Volf (Evangelical Church of Croatia, Osijek, Croatia).

Pentecostals attending as observers were: Dr. Karen Carroll Mundy (Church of God, Cleveland, Tennessee, U.S.A) and Rev. Huibert Zegwaart (Brœderschap van Pinkstergemeenten, The Netherlands).

Roman Catholic participants also included Fr. Norbert Baumert, S.J. (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); Rev. John Redford (Maryvale Institute, Birmingham, England): Sr. Helen Rolfson, O.S.F. (St. John's University, Collegeville, Minnesota, U.S.A).


[Information Service 86 (1994/II-III) 126-127]