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   The theological dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the World Methodist Council has now been going on for twenty-five years. The early years of this dialogue dealt with a wide range of issues, doctrinal, ethical and pastoral. In the last fifteen years, the dialogue has focused on a series of interrelated doctrinal issues which have also been the subject of attention in other ecumenical dialogues. In 1981 we produced report on The Holy Spirit and in 1986 Towards a Statement on the Church. To these documents we now add our text on The Apostolic Tradition. In it we seek to address some of the questions that are outstanding, following on previous studies.
   It is important to note that this report has deliberately not addressed all the differences of doctrine or practice that exist between us in respect of the questions it deals with. For example, there is no detailed examination of the question of Apostolic Succession; we do not investigate the different ways in which Catholics and Methodists actually teach and hand on the faith. Nor do we evaluate the ecclesiological self-understanding that is specific to either Catholics or Methodists. Our concern, rather, has been to set out theological perspectives within which such more specific questions may be viewed. We propose these perspectives as consistent with the doctrinal positions of both churches but not as full expositions of them. What we hope is that a careful reading of this report may enable Catholics and Methodists to see their own and each other's doctrine and practice in a wide theological and historical perspective, and to discern convergences between them.
   This approach is consistent with our conviction that we already share a certain though, as yet, imperfect communion. It is a staging post at which we are aware of much that we hold in common and respect the gifts that have been bestowed on one another in our time of separation. But we are also "committed to a vision that includes the goal of full communion in faith, mission and sacramental life" (Towards a Statement on the Church, 20). The gradual realization of that vision requires us to explore critically and constructively the theological bases which underpin our present positions. This report is a contribution to that process.
   This document was completed at a plenary meeting of the Commission which took place at the house of the "Filles du Cœur de Marie" at the Rue Notre Dame des Champs in Paris. The members of the Commission wish to express their appreciation of the hospitality they received from the Sisters there.

Roman Catholic Church World Methodist Council

April 15, 1991

Participants in the Dialogue

Roman Catholics

Rt Revd James W. MALONE, Bishop of Youngstown, USA (Co-Chairman)
Rt Revd John BATHERSBY, Bishop of Cairns, Australia
Sister Mary CHARLES MURRAY, University of Nottingham, England
Revd Professor Francis FROST, Ecumenical Institute, Céligny, Switzerland
Rt Revd John ONAIYEKAN, Coadjutor Bishop of Abuja, Nigeria
Canon Michael RICHARDS, London, England
Fr George H. TAVARD, Brighton, Massachusetts, USA
Very Rev Msgr Kevin McDONALD, Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Vatican City (Secretary)


Revd Professor Geoffrey WAINWRIGHT, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA (Co-Chairman)
Revd David BUTLER, The Queen's College, Birmingham, England
Bishop William R. CANNON, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Revd Ireneu CUNHA, Oporto, Portugal (1988 meeting)
Revd Dr Ira GALLAWAY, Pagosa Springs, Colorado, USA
Mrs Gillian KINGSTON, Roscrea, Ireland
Revd Dr Luis F. PALOMO, San Jose, Costa Rica
Revd Professor Norman YOUNG, Queen's College, Melbourne, Australia
Revd Dr Joe HALE, World Methodist Council, Lake Junaluska, North Carolina, USA (Secretary)


Mrs Linda GREENE, World Methodist Council
Miss Josette KERSTERS, Vatican City



"Because God so loved the world, he sent his Son and the Holy Spirit to draw us into communion with himself. This sharing in God's life, which resulted f rom the mission o f the Son and the Holy Spirit, found expression in a visible koinonia [communion, community] of Christ's disciples, the Church" (Report of the Joint Commission between the Roman Catholic Church and World Methodist Council, 1982-1986, Fourth Series).


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