Index > Interconfessional Dialogues > DC-RC > Documentary Supp. 1981 | CONT. > VII
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VII. Looking To The Future



   62. Our situation as Disciples of Christ and Roman Catholics, discovering each other in this dialogue, is a reflection of what is happening everywhere among Christians as they yield themselves in obedience to what God is doing through the ecumenical movement. We are not yet at the point where we can ask the churches to which we belong to make a definitive judgment on our work or to commit themselves to some decision which could have structural consequences.

   63. Yet our experience tells us and we must declare, that the relation between the Roman Catholic Church and the Disciples of Christ is in the process of a growth which is deeply important for both partners. This process calls for loyalty and courage as we pursue it towards maturity and, here and now, it challenges and makes demands on us both in a practical and costly way. The Lord is confronting us with these demands. We believe several of them especially require us to give a faithful response and to draw certain conclusions in practice:

   64. (a) Catholics and Disciples along with many other Christians are discovering that, in essence,
their commitment to Christ and their fellowship in the Gospel are the same. There is already a unity of grace which in some measure is present, bearing fruit, and which is disposing us for visible unity and surging us to move ahead to it. One of the most striking insights we have received in our dialogue is the awareness that the interior communion between Christians across divisions is an essential element of unity and a necessary part of achieving the goal of full visible unity. This is something we have experienced as we have learned to take each other seriously in our theological awareness and in our commitment to the mission of Jesus Christ. Above all, we have experienced it together in our prayer, our reading of the Scriptures, and the meditation which has seasoned, all our work and given a special flavor and substance to this dialogue. We have come to appreciate more deeply also the importance in our two traditions of the renewal of the liturgy and the centrality of the Eucharist.

   65. (b) Spiritual ecumenism leads to more than the sum of doctrinal agreements. It requires us to "do the truth" of unity by acting together in the name of the Gospel. Our obedience to Christ, the Lord of history, has to be made incarnate as we carry our own responsibility of enabling the Kingdom to penetrate the world, its life, and its institutions. In its own way, it can be as full an expression of the common faith as doctrinal agreement, for action in harmony with the demands of the Gospel makes known Christian truth and reveals its riches. Communion expressed through practice is an important element of the emerging koinonia among churches. joint action, both of individuals and of separated churches, is a factor in unity which reaches to the roots of the ecumenical task. This, too, has implications now for Disciples of Christ and Roman Catholics in each place.

   66. (c) Preparation for visible unity is taking place already through discussion of important doctrinal issues. This is clear from the work which has been done in our dialogue commission over the past five years. That is a significant beginning. We have now the framework in which it becomes possible and necessary to do further work on unresolved issues, particularly the nature and mission of the Church, the Eucharist, and the ministry.

   67. The dialogue commission gives thanks to God that certain doctrinal convergences on some key issues begin to be discernible in our work already. This encourages us to work for no less than visible unity — not a limping compromise achieved by paring away divergences, but nothing less than common witness to the one apostolic faith.

   68. The dialogue between Disciples of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church has begun and already we must live in the logic of what is happening. It demands that we begin now, as far as possible, to proclaim together the same Lord Jesus Christ, giving common witness to "the hope that is in us" (1 Pet 2:13). It demands, even now, that we enter to the fullest extent possible into that process of mutual recognition which is ultimately a worshipful acknowledgment of the one Lord in whom we are baptized, whose gifts we enjoy, to whose service we are called.


Disciples of Christ

Dr. Paul A. Crow, jr., Indianapolis, Indiana, USA (co-president)
Dr. Jorge L. Bardeguez, Hato Rey, Puerto Rico (1977-1978)
Dr. William D. Carpe, Lexington, Kentucky, USA
Dr. Efefe Elunda, Mbandaka, Zaire
Rev. Faye Feltner, Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Dr. H. Jackson Forstman, Nashville, Tennessee, USA (1979-1981)
Dr. Russel D. Legge, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Dr. Paul S. Stauffer, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
Dr. M. Jack Suggs, Fort Worth, Texas, USA
Dr. David M. Thompson, Cambridge, England (1980-1981)
Dr. Robert K. Welsh, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA (organizer)

Roman Catholic

V. Rev Stanley J. Ott, STD, DD, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA (co-president)
Rev. Schuyler Brown S.J, London, England
Sr Agnes Cunningham, Mundelein, Illinois, USA
Rev. Kevin McNamara, Killarney, Ireland
Mons. Basil Meeking, Vatican City
Rev. Philip D. Morris, South Orange, New Jersey, USA
Dr. James Patrick, Irving, Texas, USA
Rev. Jean M. Tillard, Ottawa, Canada
Rev. John F. Hotchkin, Washington, D.C., USA (organizer)


Observers of the Ecumenical council of Churches

Dr. Klaus-Martin Beckmann, Darmstadt, Germany (1978-1980)
Rev. Robin H.S. Boyd, Dublin, Ireland (1981)


[Information Service 49 (1982 II/III) 65-73]


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