Index > Interconfessional Dialogues > DC-RC > Documentary Supp. 1981 | CONT. > II
  (PREFACE) - select
  I. (INTRODUCTION) - select
II. Our Life Together
  IV. (BAPTISM) - select



   5. These five years of the dialogue between Disciples of Christ and Roman Catholics have been the occasion of joy as we have grown together in theological understanding, in fellowship, and in the way we approach the problems of doctrine. We have been led to a better understanding of the nature of the one Church of God, the situation of our divided traditions, and also of the pressure of our common calling to visible unity in Christ.

6. We are aware that we come from two very different Christian backgrounds. Our histories, our cultural journeys, our theological traditions and methods have, in some often important respects, been different. Some of the problems between us spring from these differences. Yet, the very diversity of our histories and Christian experiences frees us for a new kind of ecumenical dialogue. The Disciples movement was born out of the churches of the Reformation bul has developed its own unique position among them. In particular, there was no deliberate, formal break in communion between the Disciples of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church, although our histories have included the general bias which in the past reflected uncharitable attitudes between Protestants and Roman Catholics. This fact has allowed us to move beyond any initial apprehensions or presumed distance info cordial relationships and to discover that we have more in common than we expected.

7. A significant amount of what we thought initially to be division cannot be so defined. We have begun to discover that when we go beneath the current theological descriptions of our traditions, a convergence becomes evident. As we understand our traditions and our ecclesiologies more clearly, we discover a common source has fed them. The customary vocabulary of division does nol exactly describe our situation, even though there are stilt some important things we cannot do together or on which we cannot yet be at one.

8. This dialogue has been liberating because both Disciples and Roman Catholics set the fullness of communion at the heart of their understanding of the Church. Barton Warren Stone claimed for Disciples: "Let Christian unity be our polar star." Alexander Campbell proclaimed that "The union of Christians is essential to the conversion of the world." The same vocation, inherent in the Catholic tradition, was also claimed for Roman Catholics by the Second Vatican Council: "The restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council ... The concern for restoring unity involves the whole Church, faithful and clergy alike" (Decree on Ecumenism, nn. 1,5).

9. Paradoxically, some of our differences spring from the ways we have understood and pursued Christian unity. For example, the Disciples of Christ, called into being as an instrument of unity among divided Christians; have refused to make creeds the definitive faith in order to promote unity and communion among Christians. The Roman Catholic Church, on the other hand, holds to the creeds and the Petrine ministry for the same purpose. Our dialogue has helped us see this and other contrasts in the context of the fundamental commitment of Disciples and Roman Catholics to serve the visible unity of the whole People of God. In this perspective, some issues that seem to divide us can be traced to the same roots and certain of our differences appear complementary.

10. The nature of our ecumenical dialogue requires us to listen to each other's theological words while searching for the language of convergence, always in faithfulness to the truth of the Gospel. Our report gives substantial commentary on the issues which have been at the heart of the first phase of our dialogue and gives our churches hope for the future.

Index | Centro Activities | Course | Publications | Conferences
Week of Prayer | Library | Interconfessional Dialogues
Directory of Ecumenical Study Centers | Society of the Atonement
Guest Book | Credits | Site Map

1999-2004 © - Franciscan Friars of the Atonement, Inc.
Remarks to Webmaster at webmaster@pro.urbe.it