by the power of God and the guidance of the Spirit can Christians
grow together toward unity. In a spirit of thankfulness, the theologians
and pastors who have taken part in the RC/Disciples of Christ dialogue
for the past five years now bring a report of their meetings.
Some bilateral theological dialogues have matured to the point of
publishing reports of new convergences and agreements in the understanding
of the Christian faith. The publication, dissemination and study
of such reports is a necessary element in the process toward union.
Thus the participating churches can grasp the significance of what
is emerging and, with discernment, reach some decisions.
Along the way toward such maturation, the publication of accounts
of significant progress can be enlightening. The present 1982 paper
from the Disciples of Christ/Roman Catholic dialogue is of this
kind. It contains not an agreed statement on points of doctrine,
but an agreed account, written by those commissioned for the dialogue,
to record promising developments. The paper describes some convergence
in understanding as well as some of the problems which have yet
to be faced.
Thus the paper will inform our churches and evoke from them interest
and reactions. We desire that what has begun in good faith may end
in a unity of faith given visible expression. May the Lord bring
to completion the work of his grace.
Paul A. Crow, Jr
1. In September, 1977 a five year international dialogue between
the Disciples of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church was launched
on the theme: "Apostolicity and Catholicity in the Visible
Unity of the Church." The eighteen-member Commission had been
appointed jointly by the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity
in collaboration with the U.S. Bishops Committee for Ecumenical
and Interreligious Affairs, and the Disciples Ecumenical Consultative
Council and the Council on Christian Unity of the Christian Church
(Disciples of Christ) in the U.S. and Canada. Its membership included
Roman Catholic theologians and pastors from Canada, France, Ireland,
the United States, and the Vatican, and Disciples theologians and
pastors from Canada, England, Puerto Rico, the United States, and
Zaire. Dr. Paul A. Crow, j r. and the Most Reverend Stanley J. Ott
were named as co-chairmen for the Commission.
2. In developing the main theme of its work, the Commission selected
four sub-themes to focus discussion at each annual meeting: "The
Nature of the Church and Elements of its Unity" (Indianapolis,
1977); "Baptism: Gift and Call in the Search for Unity"
(Rome, 1978); "Faith and Tradition in the Life of the Church"
(Annapolis, 1979); "The Dynamics of Unity and of Division"
(New Orleans, 1980). At its fifth session (Ardfert, Ireland, 1981),
the Commission prepared a final report to be submitted to its authorizing
3. Each annual meeting lasted five days and followed
a regular pattern of work, of sharing in worship and prayer, and
of worshiping with Disciples and Roman Catholics in local congregations
and parishes. Four papers, two from each team, were presented and
discussed with the tasks of identifying present agreements, convergences,
new. insights and continuing tensions or problems for further consideration.
An "agreed account" of each meeting was prepared to serve
as a common memory for the Commission's work. The papers and agreed
accounts were published in Mid-Stream: An Ecumenical Journal (Vol.
XVIII, No. 4, October, 1979; Vol. XX, No. 3, July, 1981).
This final report does not summarize the papers the agreed accounts
from our previous meetings. Rather, it is a statement of shared
insights and findings which the Commission identified out of its
work, its discussion and debate, and its life together in fellowship
and prayer during these five years.