The successive joint Commissions between the Roman Catholic Church
and the World Methodist Council have hitherto presented reports
only at five-yearly intervals, on the occasion of the meetings of
the World Methodist Council in 1971 and 1976. The present Commission
(1977-81), feeling that such infrequent reports are insufficient
to sustain the interest of our Churches in its work, has sought
to make its work public as soon as it was ready, so that it might
benefit from the comments and criticisms of theologians in both
Churches. Hence the earlier parts of this report will be already
familiar in substance to many readers (cf. below).
In these earlier interim publications the Commission invited theologians
of both Churches to send their comments on the texts, and such comments
as were received have been used in revising the texts for this quinquennial
Planning the work of the quinquennium at Bad Soden in 1977,
the Commission took as general theme a study of the Holy Spirit
in the hope that it would shed fresh light on various questions
which have challenged both our traditions and do so even more urgently
today, but which our separation has hitherto left us to approach
in different ways.
At the next meeting in Rome in January 1979 we were able to summarize
the fundamentals of our shared doctrine in a paper which we felt
free to entitle "Towards an Agreed Statement on the Holy Spirit"
(World Methodist Council, P.O. Box 518, Lake Junaluska, NC, and
One in Christ, Vol. XV  no 3, pp. 274-81). See §S 7-22.
At Epworth-by-the-Sea in January 1979 we went on to examine, in
the light of this agreement, questions already broached in earlier
discussions since 1967; the resulting report (see below §§
2338) was published as "The Holy Spirit, Christian Experience
and Authority" (World Methodist Council, as above, 1979, and
One in Christ XVI  n° 3, pp. 225-233).
The last meeting of the quinquennium, at Rome, December 1980, continued
to examine the theme of Authority particularly in its relation to
conscience `in the practical sphere of Christian moral decisions'
(see below §§ 39-47). One particular field of these decisions,
Christian marriage, was chosen for closer scrutiny, with the emphasis
on marriage as a Christian vocation (§§ 48-56) and witness.
We have tried to maintain a concern which was evident in the earlier
reports of Denver and Dublin, to speak together to men and women
of our time. Hence we were led at the outset to point to "encouraging
signs of the activity of the Holy Spirit" in the Church today.
These signsa quest for prayer, a care for human need and suffering,
a passion for justice for all the oppressed, a groping hunger for
truth now clearly unsatisfied by the achievements and claims of
science and technology are evident not only among Christians
but among many others as well. The signs are widely recognized and
offer we believe an opportunity and a challenge to that "broader
common witness" among Christians which Pope Paul VI called
for in Evangelii Nuntiandi.
It is in the conviction that such common witness
is both manifested and strengthened by dialogue in search of wider
agreement and increasing convergence that we offer the present report.
following took part in one or more of the meetings, either as an
originally appointed member or as a substitute:
Rt. Revd. Bishop William R. CANNON,
Bishop of the Atlanta Area, United Methodist
Rt. Revd. Bishop James M. AULT, formerly: The
Philadelphia Area, The United Methodist Church
Revd. Dr. James CONE, Union Theological Seminary
Dr. Kwesi DICKSON, Legon University, Accra, Ghana
Revd. Dr. Ira GALLAWAY, First United Methodist
Church, Peoria, Illinois
Revd. A. Raymond GEORGE, Wesley College, Bristol,
Revd. Prof. Eric OSHORNE, Queen's College, Melbourne,
Dr. Norman YOUNG, Queen's College, Melbourne,
Dr. Albert OUTLER, Perkins School of Theology,
Revd. Dr. Joe HALE, General Secretary of the
World Methodist Council (Secretary)
Rt. Revd. Francis STAFFORD,
Auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore (Co-Chairman)
Rt. Revd. Monsignor Charles MOELLER, Secretary
of Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity
Revd. Edward MALATESTA, S. J., Jesuit School
of Theology, Berkeley
Revd. Cuthbert RAND, Ushaw College, Durham, England
Very Revd. Mgr. Richard STEWART, Secretariat
for Promoting Christian Unity
Very Revd. Mgr. Jorge MEJIA. Secretariat for
Promoting Christian Unity
Revd. Jerome VEREB, C.P., Secretariat for Promoting
Very Revd. Mgr. William PURDY, Secretariat for
Promoting Christian Unity (Secretary)