The volume recording the Proceedings of the Twelfth World Methodist
Conference at Denver, Colorado, August, 18-26, 1971 (ed. Lee
F. Tuttle, Nashville & New York: Abingdon Press), was doubtless
unique in the history of such reports in devoting a considerable
number of its pages to Roman Catholic-Methodist matters. In addition
to a personal report by Bishop William R. Cannon on the conversations
which had taken place since 1967, and the text of a lengthy address
given to the Conference by Cardinal J.G.M. Willebrands, President
of the Vatican Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, the book
contained the full-scale "Report of the Joint Commission between
the Roman Catholic Church and the World Methodist Council, 1967-70"
It is the nature of such a report both to reveal progress and achievement
and to point to further areas of study and discussion which have
been opened up and defined. The Denver Report1,
as it has come to be known familiary among us, did this under six
heads: Christianity and the Contemporary World Spirituality Christian
Home and Family Eucharist Ministry Authority
A final section entitled "The Way Ahead" embodied precise recommendations
to the respective authorities about the next stage of the dialogue.
A smaller joint Commission was proposed which should have a stimulating
and facilitating function over the whole field of Roman Catholic/Methodist
relations while its task "in regard to serious theological dialogue
should be mainly one of organization, coordination and review".
These recommendations were accepted in principle by the authorities
and the new Commission met for the first time in Rome in December
1972. Two position papers were read, one from either side, which
attempted to set out with some frankness our tasks, our problems
and our awareness of our defects. The new style in which the reduced
Commission set out to work involved some trial and error. It presupposed
also an act of faith - of confidence in a response from Roman Catholics
and Methodists in cooperation in many places at national and local
levels. In this spirit "A Call to Action" was published at the end
of our first meeting. This act of faith has proved only partly justified,
but in some instances at least the response looked for has been
generous enough to enable the Commission to tackle with varying
degrees of thoroughness a good proportion of the list of desirable
projects it drew up at its first meeting.
The present report, taking the Denver Report as its point of departure,
aims to show how this collaboration and the work the Commission
has been able itself to do at its four meetings since 1972 have
advanced our joint search and mutual understanding. To those whose
help has made this advance possible - their names will appear in
the course of the report - we are deeply grateful.
A summary of the Report, edited with an introduction
and some useful questions by Canon R. L. Stewart, has been published
together with the "Call to Action" of 1972, as a Catholic
Truth Society pamphlet, "Catholics and Methodists"
(London, 1974, 20 pp.).