Pope Francis received members of the Methodist-Roman Catholic International Commission (MERCIC) in a private audience on Wednesday 5 October. The Commission, which began work in 1967 and has met since without interruption, is currently meeting in Rome at the Casa Maria Immacolata for the first plenary meeting of its twelfth round of dialogue. The Commission was accompanied to the audience by Cardinal Kurt Koch, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity.
In his address the Commission’s Catholic Co-Chair, Bishop Shane Mackinlay of the Diocese of Sandhurst, Australia, introduced the Commission and its current work which focuses on mission and synodality and particularly on the way that mission shapes the formulation of doctrine. In his response the Methodist Co-Chair, Revd Professor Edgardo Colón-Emeric, presented Pope Francis with the report of the eleventh round of dialogue, God in Christ Reconciling: On the Way to Full Communion in Faith, Sacraments, and Mission, briefly explaining the main convergences of the document. Pope Francis responded by reflecting on the parable of the prodigal son, underlining the report’s scriptural reflection that both Catholics and Methodists are “sons” who, by sin, have wandered from the Father’s house, and who both need to return to the Father to find unity in faith and sacramental life.
After the audience, the MERCIC members visited the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, meeting with Bishop Farrell, DPCU Secretary, and Reverend Anthony Currer, outgoing staff member for relations with Methodists, together with Reverend Martin Browne, OSB, the new staff member responsible for the section. Discussion during the meeting focused on the next round of dialogue, and on the current state of ecumenism, with particular reference to relations between Catholics and Methodists. The Commission then met with staff of the Dicastery for informal discussions.
The Catholics members of MERCIC are: Bishop Shane Mackinlay (Co-Chair), Australia; Revd Anthony Currer (Co-Secretary), Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity; Dr Catherine E. Clifford, Canada; Revd Dr Gerard Kelly, Australia; Revd Dr Jorge Scampini, OP, Argentina; Dr Clare Watkins, England; Sister MarySylvia Nwachukwu, DDL, Nigeria; Revd Daniel Franklin Pilario, CM, Philippines; and Revd Martin Browne, OSB, Ireland.
The Methodist members are: Revd Dr Edgardo Colón-Emeric, (Co-Chair) USA; Revd Matthew A. Laferty (Co-Secretary), Methodist Ecumenical Office Rome; Dr Jung Choi, Korea/USA; Dr Geordan Hammond, UK; Bishop Lizette Gabriel Montalvo, Puerto Rico; Revd Dr Glen O’Brien, Australia; Revd Dr Hermen Shastri, Malaysia; and Professor Lilian Cheelo Siwila, South Africa.
A communiqué was issued at the conclusion of the plenary meeting.
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