CONSIDERING THEOLOGY TOGETHER
addition to the foregoing historical considerations, we presented
the respective beliefs that Catholics and Mennonites hold on several
common themes, and we sought to ascertain the extent to which
our theological points of view converge and diverge. Our theological
dialogue was motivated by the commonly acknowledged biblical mandate,
which calls for believers in Christ to be one so that the world
may believe in the unity of the Father and the Son (Jn
17:20-23), and for the Church to pursue the goal of "speaking
the truth in love" (Eph 4:16) and "building itself up in
love" (Eph 4:17). In the course of five years of dialogue,
we identified and discussed several theological topics: the nature
of the Church; our understandings of baptism; of the Eucharist
and the Lord's Supper; and our theologies of peace. Our dialogue
has been deep and wide ranging, and yet we were not able in this
brief period to cover all aspects of the chosen topics or to identify
all the issues that require careful consideration. Nonetheless
we believe that our mutual consideration of theological issues
was significant. We hope that our method of engaging one another
can provide a model for the future of dialogue together wherever
Catholics and Mennonites engage one another around the world.
A. THE NATURE OF THE CHURCH
70. The decision to discuss the nature of the Church came
quite naturally. The Catholic-Mennonite dialogue is a conversation
between officially nominated representatives of the Catholic Church
and the Mennonite World Conference, which is the world communion
of Mennonite related churches. Since appropriate dialogue begins
with personal introductions, it seemed right that each of us should
introduce ourselves in terms of our identity as church bodies.
Fortunately, over the years both have given major attention to
their respective understandings of the Church. It also seemed
right to us that if we were to dialogue fruitfully with each other,
we should attempt to define the relationship between us in terms
of the common ground we occupy as well as the theological issues
that separate us. This could set the stage for drawing conclusions,
and for dialogue at some future time on outstanding issues.
Catholic Understanding of the Church
71. For Catholics, "the Church is in Christ like a sacrament
or as a sign and instrument both of a very closely knit union
with God and of the unity of the whole human race".37
The Church comprises both "a divine and a human element".38
A variety of Biblical images have been employed to express the
reality of the Church (for example, church as servant, as spouse,
as community of the reconciled, as communion, and so forth).
72. From among this variety, three images in particular come to
the fore. First the Church is understood to be the people of God,
namely a people God planned to assemble in the holy Church who
would believe in Christ. "Already from the beginning of the world
the foreshadowing of the Church took place. It was prepared in
a remarkable way through the history of the people of Israel and
by means of the Old Covenant".39
The Church is therefore seen to be in continuity with the Chosen
People who were assembled on Mount Sinai and received the Law
and were established by God as his holy people (Ex 19).
Nonetheless a new and culminating point in salvation history comes
about with the saving death and resurrection of Christ and with
the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Those who follow Christ
are, as stated in 1 Pet 2:9ff., "a chosen race, a royal priesthood,
a holy nation, God's own people, in order that they may proclaim
the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his
marvellous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are
God's people". Thus the Church is given the vocation of participating
in God's plan for all peoples to bring the light of salvation
which is Christ to the ends of the earth.
73. A second image associated with the Church is that she
is the body of Christ in and for the world. Perhaps the most profound
expression of this reality is to be found in the Pauline use of
the image of the body where the term ekklesia is realised
in the Eucharistic assembly, being the body of Christ for the
world (1 Cor 11). Once again there is a clear continuity
with the idea of the universal mission of Israel carried out through
the presence of Christians who belong to the body of Christ in
the world. Paul reminds us that Christ reconciled the world to
God, thereby bringing about a new creation whereby all who are
in Christ are ambassadors for Christ, "since God is making his
appeal through us…be reconciled to God" (2 Cor 5:20).
74. A third image is that of the Church as the temple of the Holy
Spirit (cf. Eph 2:19-22; 1 Cor 3:16; Rom
8:9; 1 Pet 2:5; 1 Jn 2:27; 3:24). The Church is
seen as the temple of the Spirit because she is to be the place
of perpetual worship of God. Filled with the Holy Spirit, the
Church renders continual praise and adoration of God. Christians
through their baptism become living stones in the edifice of the
Temple of the Holy Spirit. According to the "Dogmatic Constitution
on the Church",
Church prays and likewise labours so that into the People of
God, the Body of the Lord and the Temple of the Holy Spirit,
may pass the fullness of the whole world, and that in Christ,
the head of all things, all honour and glory may be rendered
to the Creator, the Father of the universe".40
Just as the Trinity is one, in the diversity of persons, so too
is the Church one though many members. For Catholics this unity
is expressed above all in the sacrament of the Eucharist (1
Cor 10:17), where the realization of the unity of the Spirit
in the bond of peace is actualized. As is said in the letter to
is one body and one Spirit … but each has been given a grace
according to the measure of Christ and…the gifts were given…
to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for the building
up of the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity
of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity,
to the measure of full stature of Christ" (cf. Eph
75. Catholics express the mystery of the Church in terms of the
inner relation that is found in the life of the Trinity, namely
koinonia or communion. Communion with God is at the heart
of our new relationship with God. This has been described as "peace
or communion" and is the reconciliation of the world to God in
Jesus Christ (2 Cor 5:19).41
This gift of peace/communion is given to us through the one unique
mediator between God and humanity, Jesus Christ. This makes Jesus
Christ the paradigm of communion. He is the cornerstone upon which
rests the edifice of the Church; he alone is the head of the body
and we the members. This edifice is constructed as the "household
of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets
with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone" (Eph 2:20).
76. One is truly incorporated into Christ and into the Church
through the sacrament of baptism, and fully integrated into the
economy of salvation by receiving confirmation and Eucharist.42
Through these sacraments, new members are received into the body
of Christ and assume co-responsibility for the life and mission
of the Church shared with their brothers and sisters.
77. Catholics likewise believe that the apostles, in showing their
solicitude for that which they had received from the Lord, have
chosen worthy men to carry on this task of transmitting the faithful
witness of Christ down through the ages. Thus the apostolic continuity
of the Church is served by the apostolic succession of ministers
whose task is to preach the Word of God both "in season and out",
(2 Tim 4:2), to teach with sound teaching and to preside
over the building up of the body of Christ in love. The "Dogmatic
Constitution on Divine Revelation", Dei verbum states clearly
the value of the revealed Word of God for believers when it says
that "by divine Revelation God wished to manifest and communicate
both himself and the eternal decrees of his will concerning the
salvation of mankind".43
Vatican II further recognizes the role of the apostles in this
and the role of the faithful people of God in the truthful transmission
of the faith when it says that
whole body of the faithful who have an anointing that comes
from the holy one (cf. 1 Jn 2:20, 27) cannot err
in matters of belief. This characteristic is shown in the supernatural
appreciation of the faith (sensus fidei) of the whole
people, when 'from bishops to the last faithful' they manifest
a universal consent in matters of faith and morals".45
78. Furthermore, Catholics believe that sacred Scripture
and sacred Tradition make up a single deposit of the Word of God.
This single deposit has been entrusted to the Church. The "task
of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God has been
entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church…. Its authority
in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ".46
The "teaching office" (Magisterium) is exercised by the bishops
in communion with the Bishop of Rome, the Pope. Since the Magisterium
is not superior to the Word of God,47
the teaching office of the Pope and bishops is at the service
of the Word of God and forms a unity with Tradition and Scripture
and teaches only that which has been handed down to it. In his
encyclical on the Catholic Church's commitment to ecumenism, Ut
unum sint, John Paul II identified this point as one of the
five areas for further discussion:
is already possible to identify the areas in need of fuller
study before a true consensus of faith can be achieved: 1) the
relationship between Sacred Scripture, as the highest authority
in matters of faith, and Sacred Tradition, as indispensable
to the interpretation of the Word of God…"48
79. The Bishop of Rome has the office of ensuring the communion
of all the Churches and hence is the first servant of unity. This
primacy is exercised on various levels, including vigilance over
the handing down of the Word, the celebration of the Liturgy and
the Sacraments, the Church's mission, discipline and the Christian
life. He also has the duty and responsibility to speak in the
name of all the pastors in communion with him. He can also --
under very specific conditions clearly laid down by the First
Vatican Council -- declare ex cathedra that a certain doctrine
belongs to the deposit of faith. Furthermore,
submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to
the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he
is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown
in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with
reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to,
according to his manifest mind and will".49
By thus bearing witness to the truth, he serves unity.50
80. The Church (the faithful and the ordained) therefore has the
obligation to be a faithful witness of that which she has received
in word (teaching/preaching) and deed (holy living). This is possible
through the anointing that has been received by the Holy Spirit.
(1 Jn 2:20f.) The Church lives then under the Word of God
because she is sanctified in truth by that same word (cf.
Jn 17:17), and being made holy she may then sanctify the
world in truth. The Catholic Church confesses that the Church
is indeed holy because she is purified by her Lord and Saviour
Jesus Christ, and she has been given the Holy Spirit, the Advocate,
to plead the just cause of God before the nations. The followers
of Jesus must conquer the spirit of this world with the Spirit
of the beatitudes. This is the continuation of Jesus' mission
to "prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment"
(Jn 16:8ff.). This is possible only with the aid of the
Holy Spirit, the Advocate.
81. When Catholics speak of the one Church of God, they understand
her to be realized "in and formed out of particular Churches"51
and that she is concretely real in the Catholic Church.52
For the ecclesiology of Vatican II, the universal Church is the
body of particular churches from which (in et ex quibus)
the one and only Catholic Church comes into being,53
but the local churches also exist in and out of the one Church,54
shaped in its image.55
The mutual relationship between the communion of particular churches
and the one church, just described, means that the one Church
and the diversity of particular churches are simultaneous. They
are interior to each other (perichoretic). Within this perichoresis
the unity of the Church has priority over the diversity of the
local churches, and over all particular interests as is really
very obvious in the New Testament (1 Cor. 1:10ff.). "For
the Bible, the one Church corresponds to the one God, the one
Christ, the one Spirit, the one baptism (cf. Eph 4:5f.)
and lives according to the model of the early community of Jerusalem
82. A particular church is that portion of the people of
God that is united around the bishop whose mission is to proclaim
the Gospel and to construct the Church through the sacraments
-- in particular through baptism and the Eucharist.57
The communion of particular churches is presided over by the Bishop
of Rome, the successor of Peter to whom was entrusted the care
for confirming and strengthening the faith of his brothers. Together
with the bishops, the Pope governs the Catholic Church in its
mission to proclaim the Good News of the kingdom of God and the
gift of salvation in Jesus Christ that God offers freely to all
83. In the past "catholicity" was understood to mean: extending
over the whole world. While this aspect is true, there is a deeper
meaning that indicates, in spite of the diversity of expression,
there is the fullness of the faith, respect for the gifts of the
Spirit in their diversity, communion with other apostolic Churches
and faithful representation to human cultures.58
"Driven by the inner necessity of her own catholicity", the Church's
universal mission "strives ever to proclaim the Gospel to all"
and demands the particularity of the churches. Hence the Church
is to speak all languages and embrace all cultures.59
In addition the Church is to imitate the incarnation of Christ
who linked himself to certain social and cultural conditions of
those human beings among whom he dwelt.60
In this context catholicity of the Church is a call to embrace
all legitimate human particularities.61
The catholicity of the Church therefore consists in the recognition
of the same apostolic faith that has been incarnated in diverse
cultures and places throughout the world. In spite of the diversity
of its expressions and practices in its celebration, the Catholic
faith is understood to be the same faith contained in the Scriptures,
handed on by the apostles, and confessed in the creeds today.
Mennonite Understanding of the Church
84. In Anabaptist-Mennonite theology the Church is understood
as the community of faith endowed with the Spirit of God and shaped
by its response to the grace of God in Christ. Three biblical
images of the Church are basic to a Mennonite perspective. First,
the Church is the new people of God.62
While the concept of peoplehood indicates the continuity of the
Church with the people of faith of the Old Testament (Gal
2:15-21), the initiative of God in Jesus Christ marks a new beginning.
In Christ, God called "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy
nation, God's own people…out of darkness into his marvellous light"
(1 Pet 2:9). The life, death and resurrection of Christ
established the good news that people of all races and classes
and genders are invited through the grace of God to belong to
the people of God (Gal 3:28). The Church, as a family or
household of faith (Gal 6:10; Eph 2:19), adds to
its characterization as people of God. Hospitality is a mark of
the household of faith, as members of the household welcome all
who join the family, care for one another, and together share
their spiritual and material resources with those in need (Jas
85. Secondly, the body of Christ is an important biblical
image for an Anabaptist-Mennonite understanding of the Church.63
Reference to Christ in this figure points to the foundation (1
Cor 3:11) and head (Col 1:18) of the Church. Members
of the Church are incorporated as a body into Christ. The image
of the body has its background in the Hebrew concept of corporate
personality. Corporate personality implies commitment to Christ
as a body of believers (Rom 12:15; Eph 4:1-16),
which in turn implies a commitment to one another as members of
the Church. Members of the body are called to be holy as Christ
is holy: "The church, the body of Christ, is called to become
ever more like Christ, its head, in its worship, ministry, witness,
mutual love and care, and the ordering of its common life".64
86. A third image of the Church, important for Anabaptist-Mennonites,
is the community of the Holy Spirit.65
A defining moment occurred when the risen Christ "breathed on
[the disciples] and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit. If
you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain
the sins of any, they are retained'" (Jn 20:22-22). The
endowment of the disciples with the Holy Spirit mandated his followers
to become a forgiving community. A further step in the formation
of the apostolic community took place when, after the outpouring
of the Spirit at Pentecost, the first converts "devoted themselves
to the apostles' teaching and koinonia (fellowship, community),
to the breaking of bread and the prayers" (Acts 2:42).
The early church understood itself as the "new Messianic community
in which the main feature is the Holy Spirit's renewed presence
with God's people".66
As such, the Spirit plays a crucial role in the functioning of
the body of Christ, as the giver of spiritual gifts to its members
(1 Cor 12:4-11) and as the creator of the oneness of the
body (1 Cor 12:12ff). Given the multi-faceted composition
of the Church, it is a formidable task for the community to "maintain
the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph 4:3)
The Spirit provides the power to vie for the Church's oneness
and to maintain its ethical focus on the "more excellent way"
(1 Cor 12:31; cf. 1 Cor 13; 1 Pet 1:2)
87. Besides these three images which follow the trinitarian
formula, a Mennonite understanding of the Church is illumined
by various descriptions. The first of these is fellowship of
believers. The Anabaptist movement established the idea that
the Church is comprised of all who, by their own free will, believe
in Jesus Christ and obey the Gospel. Submission to Christ implies
mutual accountability to one another in congregational life (1
Cor 12:25; Jas 2:14-17; 1 Jn 3:16). This includes the
task of reproving and forgiving as well as guiding and affirming
one another in accordance with the biblical mandate to engage
in "binding and loosing" on behalf of Christ (Mt 16:19;
18:15-22; Jn 20:19-23).67
Further, the Mennonite concept of the Church requires the separation
of church and state, with the clear understanding that the Christian's
primary loyalty is to Jesus Christ. For example, in matters of
warfare, allegiance to the Christ as Lord takes precedence over
the demands of the state. Important to the original impetus of
the Anabaptist movement was the idea of "a covenantal people"
called out from among the nations to be a reconciling community
as well as "salt and light" in the world (Mt 5:13-16).
Mennonites depict themselves as being 'in the world but not of
the world' (Jn 17:15-17).
88. Mennonites understand the Church as a community of
disciples. As was the case for New Testament believers, the
acceptance of salvation made visible in baptism and in identification
with the people of "the Way" (Acts 9:2), marks their resolute
intention to be instructed in the way of Jesus of Nazareth, and
to seek to follow the Master as his first disciples had done.
Discipleship (Nachfolge) is integral to the Anabaptist-Mennonite
understanding of faith, as exemplified in a quote from the Anabaptist
Hans Denck (1526): "The medium is Christ whom no one can truly
know unless he follow him in his life, and no one may follow him
unless he has first known him".69
Mennonite historians and theologians have identified discipleship
as one of the most important legacies of the Anabaptist movement
for the continuing Mennonite vision of the Church and the vocation
of its members. A recent confession of faith states: "The church
is the new community of disciples sent into the world to proclaim
the reign of God and to provide a foretaste of the church's glorious
89. Mennonites understand the Church as a people in mission.
The Anabaptists took seriously Christ's commission to "be
my witnesses … to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8).71
Following a period of self-preservation in the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries, the latter nineteenth century brought with
it a renewal of the missionary spirit. Today the Church understands
its very being as missional. That is, the call to proclaim the
Gospel and to be a sign of the kingdom of God characterizes the
Church and includes every member of it. Mission activity is carried
out in a peaceful manner without coercion, and includes the ministries
of evangelism, social service, and advocacy for peace and justice
among all people.
90. The Mennonite Church is a peace church. Peace is essential
to the meaning and message of the Gospel and thus to the Church's
self-understanding. The Church submits to the Prince of Peace,
who calls for the way of peace, justice and non-resistance, and
who exemplifies the way of non-violence and reconciliation among
all people and for all God's creation. The peace church advocates
the way of peace for all Christian churches. One important correlate
of the Church's identity as a peace church is the Church's claim
to be a 'free' church. Mennonites believe that freedom is an essential
gift of the Spirit to the Church (2 Cor 3:17). Church membership
entails a free and voluntary act whereby the person makes a free
and uncoerced commitment to faith. The separation of church and
state along with the refusal to engage in violence against enemies
is an implication of freedom of conscience and of the liberating
power of the Gospel.
91. Mennonites understand the Church as a servant community.
Jesus came to serve, and he taught his disciples the way of servanthood
(Mk 10:43-45). In Anabaptist-Mennonite theology, the Sermon
on the Mount (Mt 5-7) is taken seriously as the operative
ethical agenda for all who confess Christ as Saviour and Lord.
The Spirit endows believers with varieties of gifts for building
up the body of Christ and sharing its message in the world (1
Cor 12). In the Church some, both men and women, are called
to serve in leadership ministries. These may include offices such
as pastors, deacons and elders, as well as evangelists, missionaries,
teachers and overseers. Patterns of leadership vary from place
to place and from time to time as they already did in the apostolic
Church (Acts 6:1-6; Eph 4:11; 1 Tim 3:1-13).
The "priesthood of all believers" is understood to encourage all
believers as "priests" to lead a holy life and to give honour
to God by serving one another in the Church and in a needy world.
92. The Church is a communion of saints. In Anabaptist-Mennonite
thought, reference to "saints" includes all who believe in Jesus
Christ and seek to follow him in holy living. The Church in its
particular setting shares the calling to sainthood "together with
all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus
Christ, both their Lord and ours" (1 Cor 1:2; cf.
also Rom 15:26; 1 Cor 14:33; Heb 14:24; Rev
22:21). The communion of saints includes the "cloud of witnesses"
(Heb 12:1) of the past who have endured faithfully to the
end. Sainthood is not based on ethical merit, but is accorded
those who have persevered to the end, "looking to Jesus the pioneer
and perfecter of our faith" (Heb 12:2). Anabaptists already
claimed the depiction of the Church as a fellowship of saints
of 'catholic' or 'universal' nature in the early stages of the
movement. The Anabaptist theologian, Balthasar Hubmaier, made
this explicit in "A Christian Catechism" of 1526, where he wrote
this baptism for the forgiveness of sins the person, in open
confession of his faith, makes his first entry and beginning
in the holy, catholic, Christian Church (outside of which there
is no salvation)… and is at that time admitted and accepted
into the community of the saints".72
Much later, in the twentieth century, we find a similar standpoint
as, for example, in the Mennonite Brethren Confession of Faith
of 1902, which states:
the members of [the Church of Jesus Christ] belong to all nations
and ranks scattered here and there throughout the world and
are divided in denominations, yet they all are one and among
one another brethren and members and exist as one body in Christ
their head, who is the Lord, Chief, Shepherd, Prophet, Priest
and King of the church".73
93. Nature of the Church. Catholics and Mennonites agree
on conceiving of the Church as the people of God, the body of
Christ, and the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, images that
flow from the Scriptures. Catholics and Mennonites agree that
the Church is called into being, is sustained, and is guided by
the triune God who nourishes her in "the grace of the Lord Jesus
Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit"
(2 Cor 13:13).
94. Foundation of the Church. We agree that the Church
is "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with
Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone" (Eph 2:20. cf.
1 Cor 3:11). Catholics and Mennonites agree and teach that
the faith of the Church is founded on the authority of the Scriptures,
which bear witness to Jesus Christ, and is expressed in the early
creeds of the Church, such as the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene-Constantinopolitan
Both Catholics and Mennonites affirm the Scriptures as the highest
authority for the faith and life of the Church.75
Both affirm the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the formation
of the Scriptures. Catholics speak of such divinely revealed realities
as are contained and presented in Sacred Scripture as having been
committed to writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.76
Mennonites speak similarly of the Scripture as God's word written777
95. Incorporation into the body of Christ. We agree
that the invitation to be God's faithful people is offered to
all in the name of Jesus Christ. Through baptism we become members
of the Church, the body of Christ.78
The generous gifts of the Spirit, given to the community of faith,
enable each member to grow in a lifelong process of Christlikeness.
The Eucharist and the Lord's Supper respectively draw believers
together in the Church by nurturing their communion with the triune
God and with one another.
96. Mission of the Church. Mennonites and Catholics agree
that mission is essential to the nature of the Church. Empowered
and equipped by the Holy Spirit, whose coming was promised by
Jesus Christ, it is the mission of the Church to bring the Good
News of salvation to all nations by proclaiming the Gospel in
word and in deed to the ends of the earth (cf. Is 2:1-4;
Mt 28:16-20; Eph 4:11f.). The 1995 Confession
of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective states: "We believe that
the church is called to proclaim and to be a sign of the kingdom
We also agree that the Church's mission is carried out in the
world through every follower of Jesus Christ, both leadership
A dimension of the mission of the Church is realized when the
Church is present among people of all nations. Thereby the divinely
destined unity of humanity as one people of faith is called into
being from peoples of many tongues and nations (Eph 4:4-6;
Mission requires that Christians seek to become "one" for the
sake of their witness to Jesus Christ and to the Father (Jn
17:20-21), and that they make "every effort to maintain the
unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph 4:3).82
It belongs to the mission of the Church to present Jesus Christ
to the world and to extend the work of Christ on earth.
97. Visibility of the Church. We agree that the Church
is a visible community of believers originating in God's call
to be a faithful people in time and place. The visible Church
was prefigured by the formation of the Old Testament people of
God, and was renewed and expanded as the one new humanity, through
the blood of Christ (Gen 12:1-3; Eph 2:13-15; 1
Pet 2:9-10). Together we value the Biblical image of the Church
as " the light of the world" and as "a city built on a hill" (Mt
5:14). Accordingly, the visibility of the Church is evidenced
when, in word and deed, its members give public witness to faith
98. Oneness of the Church. Together with other disciples
of Christ, Catholics and Mennonites take seriously the Scripture
texts that call Christians to be one in Christ. We confess that
our witness to the revelation of God in Christ is weakened when
we live in disunity (Jn 17:20-23). Together we hear the
call to "maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace"
(Eph 4:3). Together we ask: What does it mean for the churches
to confess "one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father
of all" (Eph 4:5-6)? Together we pray the Lord's Prayer,
imploring God to increase his kingdom among us.
99. Church as Presence and Promise of Salvation.
Catholics and Mennonites agree that the Church is a chosen
sign of God's presence and promise of salvation for all creation.
Catholics speak of this by affirming that the Church is "the universal
sacrament of salvation at once manifesting and actualizing the
mystery of God's love for humanity".84
Mennonites express the promissory character of the Church by proclaiming
that "in God's people the world's renewal has begun",85
and that "the church is the new community of disciples sent into
the world to proclaim the reign of God and to provide a foretaste
of the church's glorious hope".86
We agree that the Church is still underway toward its heavenly
goal, and we believe that God will sustain the faithful Church
unto the realization of its glorious hope.87
Here and now the Church manifests signs of its eschatological
character and thus provides a foretaste of the glory yet to come.
100. Ministry of the Church. We agree that ministry belongs
to the whole Church, and that there are varieties of gifts of
ministry given for the good of all. We also agree that chosen
leaders, ordained and lay,88
are essentially servants of God's people, called "to equip the
saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ"
101. Holiness and Discipleship. Catholics and Mennonites
have a common zeal for the Christian life of holiness, motivated
by devotion to Jesus Christ and the word of God, and actualized
in a spirituality of discipleship and obedience (Mt 5-7;
Rom 12; Eph 2:6-10).89
The gift of faith freely received provides the motivation for
Christian works offered to the world as thanksgiving for the abundant
grace we have been given by God. The life of discipleship and
holiness is referred to and expressed variously in terms of "following
Christ" (Nachfolge Christi), "imitation of Christ" (imitatio
Christi), Christlikeness, and devotion to Christ.
102. Education and Formation. Together we affirm the necessity
of Christian formation by which individuals come to an understanding
and acceptance of their faith and take responsibility for its
implementation in life and witness (Phil 2:12ff.). In Mennonite
churches, Christian education is fostered in many ways: Scripture
reading, preaching, pre-baptismal instruction, Sunday school for
all ages, marriage preparation, study groups, day schools for
children and youth, discipleship programs, Bible schools, college
and seminary programs, and voluntary service assignments at home
and abroad. In Catholic communities, formation takes place in
preparation for the sacraments of initiation (Baptism, Confirmation
and Eucharist) including the Rite of Christian Initiation for
Adults and prebaptismal preparation for parents and sponsors,
in homilies, in marriage preparation, in catechesis, adult education,
college and seminary programs, and for some in voluntary service
programs. Special formation is encouraged for the laity, and for
those who become pastoral workers in the Church.90
103. Church and the Authority of Tradition. Catholics and
Mennonites differ in their understanding of the relationship of
Scripture and Tradition/tradition 91
and in their view of the authority of Tradition/tradition. Catholics
speak of Scripture and Tradition as forming one sacred deposit
of the Word of God, committed to the Church.92
Sacred Tradition, coming from the Apostles, is the means by which
the Church comes to know the full Canon of Sacred Scripture and
understands the content of Divine Revelation. Tradition transmits
in its entirety the Word of God entrusted to the apostles by Christ
and the Holy Spirit. Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the
teaching authority of the Church, in accord with God's most wise
design, are so linked and joined together that one cannot stand
without the others, and that all together and each in its own
way under the action of the one Holy Spirit contribute effectively
to the sal93tion
of souls.93 Mennonites view tradition as the post-Biblical
development of Christian doctrine and practice. The Church needs
constantly to test and correct its doctrine and practice in the
light of Scripture itself. Tradition is valued, yet it can be
altered or even reversed, since it is subject to the critique
104. Incorporation into the Church. Mennonites and Catholics
differ in their understanding of who may be incorporated into
the Church, and by what means. For Catholics,
the sacrament of baptism a person is truly incorporated into
Christ and into his church and so is reborn to a sharing of
the divine life. Baptism, therefore, constitutes the sacramental
bond of unity existing among all who through it are reborn.
Baptism, of itself, is the beginning, for it is directed toward
the acquiring of fullness of life in Christ"94
takes place in the celebration of confirmation and the reception
of the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the summit of initiation because
it is through participation in Christ's eucharistic body that
one is fully incorporated into the ecclesial body. The fact that
infants cannot yet profess personal faith does not prevent the
Church from conferring baptism on them, since in reality it is
by and in her own faith that the Church baptizes them. For Mennonites,
membership in the Church follows upon adult baptism, while children
are committed to the care of God and the grace of Christ until
such a time as they freely request to be baptized and are received
into church membership.
105. Structure of the Church. For Catholics the visible
Church of Christ consists of particular churches united around
their bishops in communion with one another and with the Bishop
of Rome as the successor of Saint Peter. For Mennonites, the primary
manifestation of the Church is the local congregation and the
various grouping of congregations variously named conferences,
church bodies, and/or denominations.
106. Ministry, Authority, and Leadership. In the Anabaptist-Mennonite
tradition, ministerial leaders, both men and women, are chosen
and authorized by the congregation and/or by regional groups of
congregations. In some Mennonite churches it is the practice to
ordain leaders for life. In others, ordination is for a set period
of time. Mennonites do not have a hierarchical priesthood. As
'priests of God,' all believers have access to God through faith.95
While Catholics affirm the "common priesthood of the faithful",96
they hold to a ministerial, hierarchical priesthood, differing
from the former "not only in degree but also in essence",97
that has roots in, and takes its authority from Christ's priesthood.
With the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the laying on of hands,
the Sacrament of Orders confers on bishops, priests, and deacons
gifts for the service of the Church. Both laity and clergy share
in the fundamental equality of the baptized in the one people
of God and in the one priesthood of Jesus Christ.98
The differentiation of offices and roles within the Catholic Church
reflects the variety of gifts given by one Spirit to the one body
of Christ for the good of all (cf. 1 Cor 12).99
of Future Study
107. Church and Tradition. Further discussion is needed
on our respective understandings of the relationship between Scripture
as the highest authority in matters of faith, and Tradition/tradition
as indispensable to the interpretation of the Word of God.100
It is recognized that the Catholic Church has a developed understanding
of Tradition in God's revelation. While Mennonites may have an
implicit understanding of the role of tradition, little attention
has been given to the role of tradition relative to Scripture
and to the development of doctrine and ethics.
108. Catholicity of the Church. We agree that further
study and discussion is needed on the question of the definition
and implications of our respective understandings of the catholicity
and universality of the Church. Mennonites believe that all who
truly confess Christ as Lord, who are baptized, and follow him
in life, are members of the Church universal. For Catholics, catholicity
properly means the fullness of the confession of faith, respect
for the gifts of the Spirit in their diversity, communion with
other churches, and witnessing in all human cultures to the mystery
of Christ in fidelity to the Apostolic Tradition.
109. The Church Visible and Invisible. Agreement among
us on the visibility of the Church raises the question of the
meaning of visible and invisible aspects of the Church, suggested
in such expressions as "cloud of witnesses" (Heb 12:1)
and "communion of saints" as stated in the Apostles' Creed.
110. Ministry. A comparative study of ministry, ordination,
authority, and leadership in our two traditions is needed.
B. Sacraments and Ordinances
111. Since differences of interpretation with respect to
two traditional church practices, baptism and the Mass, triggered
the rupture between Anabaptists and Catholics in the sixteenth
century, it seemed right to both Catholic and Mennonite members
of the dialogue that we should present our respective current
understandings of these practices, and upon that basis enter into
a consideration of historic points of agreement and disagreement.
Below is a synopsis of what we presented to each other, and of
what we identified as convergences, divergences, and areas for
future study. As the discussion proceeded, we were challenged
by words from Ephesians: "There is one body and one Spirit, just
as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord,
one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above
all and through all and in all" (Eph 4:4-6).
Catholic Understanding of Sacraments
112. Sacrament is an important concept for Catholics.
This concept has been expressed in many ways throughout the long
history of the life of the Church and especially with two words:
mysterion and sacramentum. Mysterion and sacramentum
refer to the mysterious manner in which God has used the elements
of his creation for his self-communication. The Scriptures, especially
the New Testament, reveal that for the Christian the place of
fundamental encounter with God is Jesus Christ. Catholicism has
traditionally understood that God's relationship to us is not
to be understood solely in an individual way but also in a communal
or corporate manner. This is basically a way of expressing the
Pauline understanding of all having fallen in Adam and all having
been raised (saved/justified) to new life in Christ (cf.
Rom 5:19; 2 Cor 5:14f.; Acts 17:26ff.). Linked
to the notion of corporate personality is that of the ecclesial
dimension of the mysteries/sacraments, in that sacraments appear
as the symbolic expression of the eschatological embodiment of
God through the Spirit, first in Christ (the "source-sacrament")
then in the Church (the "fundamental-sacrament" of Christ). This
dimension is important for the Catholic understanding of the sacraments
since it is the Church, as body of Christ, which is the fundamental
sacrament of God's promise and deliverance of the kingdom.101
Just as Christ is the sacrament of the encounter with God, so
the Church is the sacrament of encounter with Christ, and hence,
ultimately with God.
113. The Second Vatican Council speaks of the sacrament as a reality
to be lived especially as the life of the Christian is linked
to the Paschal mystery:
for well-disposed members of the faithful the liturgy of the
sacraments…sanctifies almost every event of their lives with
the divine grace which flows from the paschal mystery of the
Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ. From this source
all sacraments… draw their power. There is scarcely any proper
use of material things, which cannot thus be directed toward
sanctification of men and the praise of God".102
whole sacramental system in the Catholic Church evolves from the
understanding of the centrality of the Paschal mystery. The Paschal
mystery is the place where God reveals and grants salvation in
symbolic acts and words. The Church in turn worships God through
Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit through the active participation
of the faithful in word and symbolic action. Sacraments as the
Council teaches are "sacraments of faith".103
They are so in four ways: sacraments presuppose faith, nourish
faith, fortify faith and express faith.
114. Vatican II offers four points of reference for sacraments
which are important for their comprehension: 1) Sacraments are
liturgical. As such they are located within the Liturgy of the
and within the action of the Spirit.105
2) Sacraments are linked to God, which means that they are the
place of divine action. 3) They are linked to the Church, since
the Church is where the sacraments are celebrated thanks to the
priestly reality of the whole body 106
and because the Church is edified by them. The sacraments are
constitutive of the very reality of the Church, and are seen as
institutional elements building up the body of Christ.107
4) Lastly, sacraments are linked to the whole of the Christian
life, since there is a strong link between the sacramental celebration
and the ethic of Christian living. Hence a link is made between
the Word of God proclaimed, the Word of God celebrated and the
Word of God lived that engages each Christian in their daily life.
115. Baptism for Catholics is above all the sacrament of
that faith by which, enlightened by the grace of the Holy Spirit,
we respond to the Gospel of Christ. Through baptism one is incorporated
into the Church and is built up in the Spirit into a house where
God lives. Baptism is the cleansing with water by the power of
the living word that washes away every stain of sin and makes
us sharers in God's own life. Those who are baptized are united
to Christ in a life like his (Col 2:12; cf. Rom
6:4f.). Catholic teaching regarding baptism may be put in
six points: 1) baptism is the beginning of the Christian life
and the door to other sacraments; 2) it is the basis of the whole
Christian life; 3) the principle effects of baptism are purification
and new birth; 4) through baptism we become Christ's members and
are incorporated into his Church and made sharers in its mission;
5) confirmation that completes baptism deepens the baptismal identity
and strengthens us for service; and 6) lastly, as true witnesses
of Christ the confirmed are more strictly obligated to spread
and defend the faith by word and deed. In addition, the "Decree
on Ecumenism" of the Second Vatican Council adds: "Baptism, therefore,
constitutes a sacramental bond of unity linking all who have been
reborn by means of it".108
116. Both in the churches of the East and of the West, the baptizing
of infants is considered a practice of ancient tradition.109
The oldest known ritual, describing at the start of the third
century the Apostolic Tradition, contains the following
rule: "First baptize the children. Those of them who can speak
for themselves should do so. The parents or someone of their family
should speak for the others".110
The Catholic Church baptizes adults, infants and children. In
each of these cases, faith is an important element. In the context
of adults and children the individuals themselves make their profession
of faith. In the context of infants the Church has always understood
that the one baptized is baptized into the faith of the Church.
It is the Church that with her faith envelopes a child who cannot
now make a personal confession of faith. At the basis of this
reflection is the double solidarity found in the Pauline writings,
namely the solidarity in Adam and the solidarity in Christ (Rom
5). It is stated in the introduction to the rite of baptism of
fulfill the true meaning of the sacrament; children must later
be formed in the faith in which they have been baptized. The
foundation of this formation will be the sacrament itself, which
they have already received. Christian formation, which is their
due, seeks to lead them gradually to learn God's plan in Christ,
so that they may ultimately accept for themselves the faith
in which they have been baptized".111
117. The Eucharist is not simply one of the sacraments
but it is the pre-eminent one. Vatican II states that the Eucharist
is the source and the summit of the whole life of the Church.112
Through the activity of the Holy Spirit, the atoning work of Jesus
Christ is made universal and brings all things in heaven and on
earth together under one head, Jesus Christ (Eph 1:10).
The sacramental basis of this koinonia or communion is
the one baptism through which we are baptized in the one body
of Christ (1 Cor 12:12f.; cf. Rom 12:4f.;
Eph 4:3f.) through baptism we are one in Christ (Gal
3:26-28). The summit of this communion is found in the Eucharist
where the many become one through the participation in the one
loaf and one cup (1 Cor 10:16f.). Therefore the koinonia/communion
in the one Eucharistic bread is the source and sign of the
koinonia/communion in the one body of the Church. In the
Eucharist we are united to the heavenly liturgy and anticipate
eternal life when God will be all in all. The Eucharist, wherein
Christ is really and substantially present, sacramentally represents
the sacrifice of Christ made on the cross once and for all. It
is a memorial of his passion, death and resurrection.113
There is a richness in understandings of what the Eucharist is
for Catholics. By taking these together, we can have a fuller
understanding of the meaning of the Eucharist. For example, the
Eucharist is understood as a meal that realizes and manifests
the unity of the community; in addition this meal is understood
in relationship to the unrepeatable death of Christ on the cross.
In the Eucharistic sacrifice, the whole of creation loved by God
is presented to the Father through the death and resurrection
of Christ. Through Christ the Church can offer the sacrifice of
praise in thanksgiving for all that God has made good, beautiful,
and just in creation and in humanity.114
118. Even though the eucharistic celebration consists of several
parts, it is conceived of as a single act of worship. The eucharistic
table is the table of both the Word of God and the body of the
Lord. Vatican II taught that Christ is present in several ways
in the celebration of the Eucharist. First, in the presence of
the minister who gathers the Church in the name of the Lord and
greets them in his Spirit; second, in the proclamation of the
Word; third, in the assembly gathered in God's name; and fourth,
in a special way under the eucharistic elements.115
The faithful are invited to share in the celebration of the liturgy
in an active way by means of hymns, prayers and especially the
reception of the eucharistic body and blood of the Risen Lord.
The faithful commune at the table of the Lord by receiving both
the eucharistic bread and the cup.
119. Lastly we can affirm that the Church makes a link between
what is celebrated and what is lived. Therefore as St. Augustine
taught, we are to become more fully that which we receive, namely
the body of Christ. This means that as Paul taught First Corinthians,
we must live coherently the reality that we are (cf. 1
Cor 11:17ff.), hence the link between the Eucharist and justice,
peace and reconciliation. Catholics are committed, because of
this eucharistic reality, to become a living sign of Christ's
peace and reconciliation for the world.
Mennonite Understanding of Ordinances
120. The term ordinance is used instead of 'sacrament' in Anabaptist-Mennonite
To speak of baptism and the Lord's Supper as ordinances emphasizes
that the Church began and continues these practices because Christ
ordained (instituted) them (Mt 26:26-29; 1 Cor 11:23-26).
Two ordinances are common to all Mennonite churches, namely baptism
and the Lord's Supper. A third, foot washing, is practiced by
some (cf. Jn 13:3-17).117
On another matter of terminology, Mennonites do not use the term
'Eucharist', but refer to the meal as the 'Lord's Supper', and
sometimes as 'Holy Communion'. It has become common in theological
and confessional writing to refer to the ordinances and to the
elements of water, bread and wine, as symbols or signs. By this
is meant that the ordinances and the elements point beyond themselves
to their spiritual significance, and also, in the case of the
Lord's Supper, to its historic memory. This report will limit
itself to the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's Supper, since
these were the focus of the Mennonite-Catholic dialogue.
121. In Anabaptist-Mennonite understanding, baptism derives
its meaning from the biblical accounts of baptisms -- the baptism
of Jesus (Mt 3:13-17; Mk 1:9-11; Lk 3:21-22;
Jn 1:29-34) and of those baptized in Jesus' name (for example,
Acts 2:41) -- as well as biblical references to the meaning of
baptism (for example, Rom 6:3-4; Col 2:12; 1
Jn 5:7-8). Consideration of these texts leads to an understanding
of water baptism as a sign that points to three interrelated dimensions
of Christian initiation and formation:118
1) In baptism the individual bears witness before the congregation
that he/she has repented of sin, has received the grace of God,
and has been cleansed of all unrighteousness (Ezek 36:25;
Acts 2:38). Baptism is thus the sign of a good conscience
before God and the Church. 2) Water baptism signifies the outpouring
of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian (Acts 2:17,
33). Baptism is thus an acknowledgement on the part of the one
being baptized, of the presence of the Spirit in his/her life
of faith. 3) Baptism provides a public sign to the congregation
of the person's desire to walk in the way of Christ. Such a walk
is sometimes referred to in Anabaptist writings as "walking in
122. The baptismal commitment to faith and faithfulness is not
an individualistic action, as baptism and church membership are
inseparable. The person is " baptized into one body" (1 Cor
12:13), the body of Christ, the Church. The baptismal candidate's
affirmation of faith is an affirmation of the faith of the Church,
and an affirmation made in the context of the community of believers
to which the baptized person is joined as a responsible member.
The new church member declares a willingness to give and receive
care and counsel and to participate in the church's life and mission.
The individual relates to the Trinitarian God in a deeply personal
way, and also together in and with the community of believers
where grace is experienced and faith is affirmed in and with the
people of God.
123. Mennonite confessional statements as well as centuries of
practice suggest that baptism is understood not only as a sign
that points beyond the baptismal ritual to its historic and spiritual
significance, but that in and through baptism the individual and
the community of faith undergo effectual change. For example,
the Dordrecht Confession (1632) says that all penitent
believers are to be baptized with water "to the burying of their
sins, and thus to become incorporated into the communion of the
Here participation in the baptismal act appears to effect the
putting away of sins. A statement on baptism in the Ris Confession
(1766) speaks of baptism as a means of spiritual blessing,
regeneration and renewal: "If Christian baptism is thus devoutly
desired, administered, and received, we hold it in high esteem
as a means of communicating and receiving spiritual blessing,
nothing less than a washing of regeneration and renewing of the
More recent Mennonite confessional statements on baptism also
reveal the expectation of transformation due to participation
in the ordinance. The Confession of Faith of the Mennonites
in Canada (1930), states:
is an incorporation (Einverleibung) in Christ and his
church and the covenant of a good conscience with God. It signifies
the burial of our old life in the death of Christ and binds
the baptized to unity with Christ in a new obedient life, to
follow him in his footsteps and to do what he has commanded
them to do".122
While there is the recognition in Mennonite theology and in Mennonite
confessions that 'something happens' in the very act of baptism,
baptismal transformation in and through the ritual is conceivable
only if and when it is verified in the faith and life of the individual
undergoing baptism and of the baptizing community.
124. Mennonites practice adult baptism, sometimes referred to
as 'believers baptism.' Baptism is reserved for youth and adults
who freely request it on the basis that they have accepted Jesus
Christ as their personal Saviour and Lord. This presupposes, on
the part of the one being baptized, the ability to reason and
to take personal accountability for faith, and to become a responsible
participant in the life of the Church. Baptism is administered
"according to the command and doctrine of Christ, and the example
and custom of the apostles".123
The person is baptized with water in the name of the Father, the
Son, and the Holy Spirit. Mennonites understand baptism to include
instruction in the Word of God and in the way of discipleship
(Mt 28:19f.). The mode of baptism is either by effusion
of water upon the individual (pouring or sprinkling) or by immersion
of the person in water.124
125. The Mennonite Church observes the Lord's Supper in
accordance with Jesus' institution of the Supper and with the
teachings of the New Testament concerning its meaning: 1) The
Lord's Supper is a meal of remembrance whereby participants thankfully
recall that Jesus suffered, died, and was raised on behalf of
all people, sacrificing his body and shedding his blood for the
forgiveness of sins (Mt 26:28; 1 Cor 11:23-25).
2) The meal is a sign bearing witness to the new covenant established
in and by the death and resurrection of Christ, and thus an invitation
to participants to renew their covenant with Christ (Jer 31:33-35;
Mk 14:24; 1 Cor 11:25). 3) The Lord's Supper is
a sign of the Church's corporate sharing in the body and blood
of Christ, recognition that the Church is sustained by Christ,
the bread of life, and thus an invitation for members of the Church
to be one (Lk 22:19f.; 1 Cor 10:16f.). 4) The meal
is a proclamation of the Lord's death, a joyous celebration of
hope in his coming again, a foretaste of the heavenly banquet
of the redeemed, and an occasion for hearing anew the call to
serve the Lord in sacrificial living until his return (Lk
22:28-30; 1 Cor 11:26).
126. While throughout the Mennonite confessional tradition there
runs a persistent emphasis on the Lord's Supper as a memorial
and a sign, Mennonite confessions of faith do not dismiss the
effectual power of the ordinance to bring change to the participants
and to the community of faith. The Schleitheim Confession (1527)
depicts the congregation of true believers as being "made one
loaf together with all the children of God".125
This suggests that in a spiritual sense the community becomes
the loaf, the bread. Something of this power associated with the
sharing of the bread itself, is felt and known when brothers and
sisters claim a spiritual closeness during the communion service,
and when they leave the service 'changed.' In its statement on
the Lord's Supper, the Ris Confession identifies the presence
of this spiritual power when it states: "On the part of God and
Christ [the Lord's Supper] serves as a means to confirm and seal
unto us in the most emphatic manner the great blessings comprehended
in the gospel".126
The Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective (1995)
states: "As we partake of the communion of the bread and the cup,
the gathered body of believers shares in the body and blood of
Christ and recognizes again that it's life is sustained by Christ,
the bread of life".127
The key lies not in the elements as such, but in the context as
a whole, including the communion of the gathered congregation,
the prayerful aspiration of each individual, and the spiritual
presence that is suggested and re-presented with the aid of appropriate
symbols and liturgy.128
127. The invitation to take part in the Lord's Supper is
open to all baptized believers who are in right fellowship with
the Lord and with their congregation, and who by the grace of
God seek to live in accordance with the example and teachings
of Christ. From the beginning of the Anabaptist -- Mennonite movement,
the unity of the body of believers was seen as a desired prerequisite
for coming to the table of the Lord.129
How can there be participation, it is asked, if there is not a
striving for the unity of the one body of Christ? The emphasis
upon preparing for the Lord's Supper by ensuring that members
are in 'right' relationship with brothers and sisters in the Church
is a distinctive mark of the Mennonite practice of Holy Communion.
128. The Catholic Church and the Mennonite Church agree that
baptism and the Lord's Supper have their origin and point of reference
in Jesus Christ and in the teachings of Scripture. Both regard
the celebration of these sacraments/ordinances as extraordinary
occasions of encounter with God's offer of grace revealed in Jesus
Christ. They are important moments in the believers' commitment
to the body of Christ and to the Christian way of life. Catholics
and Mennonites see the sacraments/ordinances as acts of the Church.
129. Mennonites and Catholics are agreed on the basic meaning
and import of baptism as a dying and rising with Christ, so that
"just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father,
so we too might walk in newness of life" (Rom 6:4). We
both also emphasize that baptism signifies the outpouring of the
Holy Spirit and the promised presence of the Holy Spirit in the
life of the believer and the Church.
130. Catholics and Mennonites agree that baptism is a public
witness to the faith of the Church, and the occasion for the incorporation
of new believers into Christ and the Church. Both hold that baptism
is an unrepeatable act.
131. For Mennonites and Catholics a public profession of
faith is required at the time of baptism. Mennonite churches baptize
upon the candidate's own confession of faith. This is also the
case in the Catholic rite of adult baptism. In the case of infant
baptism in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, it is the Church,
along with the parents and the godparents, that makes the profession
of faith on behalf of the child. This profession becomes personal
when the child is able to reason and to affirm the faith. This
is done solemnly at confirmation. In the Eastern Rite, all three
sacraments are celebrated together and the sense of confirmation
is the inserting of the candidate into the public witness of Christ
and the reception of the grace proper to this public witness.
132. Mennonites and Catholics practice the rite of baptism
as a public celebration in the congregation. Both practice baptism
by effusion of water or immersion in water; and they baptize in
the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as Jesus
instructed (cf. Mt 28:19). In Mennonite churches,
an ordained minister of the congregation administers baptism.
In the Catholic Church, it is ordinarily a bishop, a priest, or
a deacon who administers baptism.
133. Mennonites and Catholics agree on significant aspects
of the meaning of the Lord's Supper or Eucharist: 1) Both hold
that the celebration of the Eucharist/Lord's Supper is rooted
in God's marvellous gift of grace made available to all people
by virtue of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
2) We agree that the Lord's Supper/Eucharist recalls the suffering,
the death, and the resurrection of Christ. 3) We agree that the
meal provides an important occasion for the acknowledgement of
our sinfulness and for receiving grace and forgiveness. 4) Both
celebrate the Eucharist/Lord's Supper for the nourishing of Christian
life; for the strengthening of the church's sense of mission;
and for the conforming of our communities to the body of Christ
in order to be ministers of reconciliation, peace and justice
for the world (cf. 1 Cor 11:17-32; 2 Cor 5:16-21).
5) Both celebrate the Lord's Supper/Eucharist in the spirit of
Christian hope, as a foretaste of the heavenly banquet anticipated
in the coming kingdom of God.
134. Catholics and Mennonites agree that the risen Christ
is present at the celebration of the Eucharist/Lord's Supper.
Christ is the one who invites to the meal; he is present in the
faithful who are gathered in his name; and he is present in the
135. Both Mennonites and Catholics view sacraments and ordinances
as outward signs instituted by Christ, but we have differing understandings
of the power of signs. For Mennonites, ordinances as signs point
to the salvific work of Christ and invite participation in the
life of Christ. For Catholics, in addition to participating in
the life of Christ, signs also communicate to those who receive
them, the grace proper to each sacrament.
136. The Catholic Church advocates both infant baptism and
adult baptism, and accepts Mennonite baptism, which is done with
water and in the name of the Trinity, as valid. In the Mennonite
Church, baptism is for those who understand its significance and
who freely request it on the basis of their personally owned faith
in Jesus Christ.
137. Mennonites and Catholics differ in part in their understanding
of the role of a personal confession of faith as it pertains to
baptism. Both agree to the necessity of the profession of faith.
However, in the Catholic practice of infant baptism, a profession
of faith is made on behalf of the child by the parents, the godparents,
and the whole assembly. In the Mennonite churches, which do not
practice infant baptism, it is required that a profession of faith
and a baptismal commitment be made personally by the individual
being baptized. In the Mennonite churches, the practice of making
a profession of faith on behalf of a person being baptized who
does not at the moment of baptism realize the basic meaning and
implications of his or her baptism, is not acceptable.
138. Catholics and Mennonites diverge in their understanding
of how Christ is present in the Eucharist or the Lord's Supper.
For Mennonites, the Lord's Supper is primarily a sign or symbol
that points to Jesus' suffering, death, and resurrection, and
that keeps this memory alive until His return. For Catholics,
the Eucharist is the source and the summit of the whole life of
the Church in which the sacrifice, made once and for all on the
cross, is made really present under the species of the consecrated
bread and wine, and presented to the Father as an act of thanksgiving
and praise for the wonderful work of salvation offered to humanity.
139. Mennonites and Catholics diverge in their understanding of
the presence of Christ at the Eucharist/Lord's Supper. The Anabaptists
rejected the idea that there was a real bodily presence of Christ
in the elements of bread and wine. Mennonites today view the elements
as signs or symbols that recall the significance of the death
of Christ for the forgiveness of sin and for the Christian's commitment
to love and discipleship. In Catholic understanding, in the sacrament
of the Eucharist "the body and blood, together with the soul and
divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ
is truly, really, and substantially contained",130
under the species of bread and wine which have been consecrated
by an ordained bishop or presbyter.
140. With respect to participation in the Lord's Supper,
most Mennonite churches extend an open invitation for all believers
to partake, who are baptized, who are in good standing in their
church, and who are in right relationship with the Lord and with
one another. In Catholic understanding, the ecclesial dimension
of the Eucharist has consequences for the question of who may
be admitted to the Eucharistic communion, since the Eucharist
as the sacrament of unity presumes our being in full ecclesial
Therefore the ecclesial dimension of the Eucharist must be taken
into consideration in the question of who is admitted to the Eucharist.
of Future Study
141. Discussion is needed concerning our divergent views
on the role of the faith of the Church as it bears on the status
of infants and children. This would include a comparative study
of the theology of sin and salvation, of the spiritual status
of children, and of baptism.
142. The question of recognizing or not recognizing one another's
baptism requires further study.
143. It is necessary to study, together, the history of the origin
and development of the theology and practice of baptism for the
purpose of ascertaining the origin of infant baptism, assessing
the changes brought about with the Constantinian shift, the development
of the doctrine of original sin, and other matters.
144. It would be fruitful to have additional discussions
of the relationship between the Catholic understanding of sacraments
and the Mennonite understanding of ordinances, to further ascertain
where additional significant convergences and divergences may
C. Our Commitment to Peace
are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called the children of God" (Mt 5:8).
145. Through our dialogue, we have come to understand that
Catholics and Mennonites share a common commitment to peacemaking.
That commitment is rooted in our communion with "the God of Peace"
(Rom 15:33) and in the church's response to Jesus' proclamation
of "the gospel of peace" (Eph 6:15). Christ has entrusted
to us the ministry of reconciliation. As "ambassadors of Christ"
(2 Cor 5:20) we are called to be reconciled to God and
to one another. Moved by the Spirit, we want to share with our
brothers and sisters in faith, and with a wider world, our call
to be instruments of God's peace.
146. We present the results of our dialogue on the question of
commitment to peace in four parts: (1) a survey of distinctive
aspects of our respective views of peacemaking and related Christian
doctrines; (2) points of convergence; (3) points of divergence;
and (4) issues requiring further exploration.
Perspectives on Peace
147. The Church's Social Vision. The primary way in which
the Church contributes to the reconciliation of the human family
is the Church's own universality.132
Understanding itself as "a sacrament of intimate union with God
and of the unity of mankind",133
the Catholic Church takes the promotion of unity, and accordingly
peace, "as belonging to the innermost nature of the Church".134
For this reason it fosters solidarity among peoples, and calls
peoples and nations to sacrifices of advantages of power and wealth
for the sake of solidarity of the human family.135
The Eucharist, which strengthens the bonds of charity, nourishes
such solidarity. The Eucharist, in turn, is an expression of the
charity which binds members of the community in Christ (1 Cor
148. The Church views the human vocation as essentially communitarian,
that is, all human relations are ordered to unity and love, an
order of love confirmed by the life and teaching of Jesus and
the Spirit-filled life of the Church (cf. Lk 22:14-27;
Jn 13:1-20; 15:1-17; 17:20-24).137
This order of love is manifest in the lives of the faithful and
in the community of the Church, but is not restricted to them.
In fact, by virtue of creation and redemption, it is found at
all levels of human society.
149. God created the human family for unity, and in Christ confirmed
the law of love (Acts 17:26; Rom 13:10). Accordingly,
the Church sees the growth of interdependence across the world,
though not without problems due to sin, a force that can contribute
Thus, Pope John Paul II has written: "The goal of peace, so desired
by everyone, will certainly be achieved through the putting into
effect of social and international justice, but also through the
practice of virtues which favour togetherness, and which teach
us to live in unity…".139
150. The Call to Holiness. All Christians share in God's
call to holiness (1 Thess 4:3; Eph 1:4).140
This is a sanctity "cultivated by all who under God's spirit and,
obeying the Father's voice …, follow Christ, poor, humble and
As God's own people, living in the inauguration of the kingdom,
we are to be "peacemakers" who "hunger and thirst for righteousness"
(Mt 5:6) and "are persecuted for righteousness' sake" (Mt
5:11). We are to love one another, forgive one another, and live
humbly in imitation of Jesus, who though he was "in the form of
God … humbled himself becoming obedient unto death, even death
on a cross" (cf. Phil 2:6, 8). We are to be generous
and forgiving with everyone, as God is generous with us (Lk
6:37f.). In a word, as disciples of Jesus, we are instructed to
"Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Mt
151. All the commandments, as Saint Paul teaches, are summed up
in the saying, "Love your neighbour as yourself" (Rom 13:9;
cf. Jas 2:8; 1 Jn 4:11f.). For Catholics, love of
neighbour takes special form in love and service of the poor and
marginalized; indeed, in "a preferential option for the poor".
The ministry of love to the neighbour is promoted through personal
and corporate works of mercy, in organized charities, as well
as in advocacy on behalf of justice, human rights and peace. Lay
people, bishops and Church agencies engage in such initiatives.142
The love command likewise entails reverence and love for enemies
(Mt 5:43; 1 Jn 3:16).143
Like our heavenly Father, who "makes the sun to rise on the evil
and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous"
(Mt 5:45), we are to love our enemies, bless them, pray
for them, not retaliate, and share our possessions with those
who would take things from us (Lk 6:27-35). Furthermore,
we must be prepared to establish just relations with them, for
true peace is the fruit of justice, and "because justice is always
fragile and imperfect, it must include and, as it were be completed
by the forgiveness which heals and rebuilds troubled human relations
from their foundations".144
Finally, in the midst of conflict, the Lord gives us his peace
that we may have courage under persecution (Jn 16:33; 20:21).
152. Nonviolence, in Catholic eyes, is both a Christian and a
human virtue. For Christians, nonviolence takes on special meaning
in the suffering of Christ who was "led as a sheep to the slaughter"
(Is 53:7; Acts 8:32). "Making up the sufferings
lacking in Christ" (Col 1:34), the nonviolent witness of
Christians contributes to the building up of peace in a way that
force cannot, discerning the difference "between the cowardice
which gives into evil and the violence which under the illusion
of fighting evil, only makes it worse".145
In the Catholic view, nonviolence ought to be implemented in public
policies and through public institutions as well as in personal
and church practice.146
Both in pastoral practice and through Vatican diplomacy, the Church
insists, in the face of conflict, that "peace is possible".147
The Church also attempts to nourish a culture of peace in civil
society, and encourages the establishment of institutions for
the practice of non-violence in public life.148
153. Peacemaking. On the pastoral level, the Catholic theology
of peace takes a positive stance. It focuses on resolving the
causes of conflict and building the conditions for lasting peace.
It entails four primary components: (1) promotion and protection
of human rights, (2) advancing integral human development, (3)
supporting international law and international organizations,
and (4) building solidarity between peoples and nations.149
This vision of peace is articulated in the whole body of contemporary
Catholic social teaching beginning with Pope John XXIII's Pacem
in terris ("Peace on Earth") forty years ago and continuing
through Pope John Paul II's Tertio millennio ineunte ("The
Third Millennium") in 2000.150
154. The Catholic Church's work for peace is carried out
in many ways. Since the Second Vatican Council, it has largely
been carried out through a network of national and diocesan justice
and peace commissions and through the Pontifical Council for Justice
and Peace. Their work has been especially influential in the struggle
for human rights in Asia, Latin America, and some parts of Africa.
Catholic human rights offices, like the Vicarate for Solidarity
in Chile, Tutela Legal in El Salvador, Batolomeo Casas in Mexico,
the Archdiocesan Office in Guatemala City, and the Society of
Saint Yves in Jerusalem have been models for active defence of
the rights of the poor, of indigenous people, and of those under
occupation. Catholic relief and development agencies, especially
Caritas Internationalis and the Caritas network,
provide relief, development, refugee assistance and post-conflict
reconstruction for divided societies. In many places, individual
bishops have also played an important role in national conciliation
efforts; and one, Bishop Felipe Ximenes Belo of E. Timor, won
the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.
155. The Holy See 151
exercises "a diplomacy of conscience" through the Vatican diplomatic
corps and other special representatives. This diplomatic activity
consists of advocacy on behalf of peace, human rights, development
and humanitarian issues. It also contributes to international
peacemaking indirectly through initiatives of Catholic groups,
like the Community of Sant'Egidio, and various bishops' conferences.
Above all, the pope exercises a unique ministry for peace through
his teaching and public statements, in his meetings with world
figures, through his pilgrimages across the world, and through
special events like the Assisi Days of Prayer and the Great Jubilee
156. Since the Second Vatican Council, the Church has sought to
view war "with a whole new attitude".152
In the encyclical letter, Evangelium vitae ("The Gospel
of Life"), Pope John Paul II identified war as part of the culture
of death, and he found a positive sign of the times in "a new
sensitivity ever more opposed to war as an instrument of the
resolution of conflict between people, and increasingly oriented
to finding effective but 'nonviolent' means to counter the armed
157. The Catholic tradition today upholds both a strong presumption
against the use of force and an obligation to resist the denial
of rights and other grave public evils by active nonviolence,
if at all possible (cf. Rom 12:14-21; 1 Thess
5:14f.). All Catholics bear a general obligation to actively resist
grave public evil.154
Catholic teaching has increasingly endorsed the superiority of
non-violent means and is suspect of the use of force in a culture
Nonetheless, the Catholic tradition also continues to maintain
the possibility of a limited use of force as a last resort (the
Just War), particularly when whole populations are at risk as
in cases of genocide or ethnic cleansing.156
As in the days before the U.S. war against Iraq (2003), Pope John
Paul II as well as Vatican officials and bishops' conferences
around the world have urged the international community to employ
nonviolent alternatives to the use of force. At the same time,
they have employed just-war criteria to prevent war and to promote
the limitation of force and to criticize both potential and actual
uses of force by governments.
158. Just-war reasoning, however, is not a simple moral calculus.
Following the notion of 'right reason,' valid application of the
just-war criteria depends on possessing a virtuous character.
Such virtues as moderation, restraint, and respect for life are
intrinsic to sound application of just-war criteria, as are Christian
virtues such as humility, gentleness, forgiveness and love of
enemy. Accordingly, Church teaching and application of the Just
War criteria have grown more stringent in recent years, insisting
that the function of the Just War Tradition is to prevent and
limit war, not just legitimate it.157
159. The Just War today should be understood as part of a
broad Catholic theology of peace applicable only to exceptional
cases. War, as Pope John Paul II has said, "is never just another
means that one can choose to employ for settling differences between
The Pope's overall assessment of the evils of war made at the
end of the 1991 Gulf War remains valid today:
never again war, which destroys the lives of innocent people,
teaches how to kill, throws into upheaval even the lives of those
who do the killing, and leaves behind a trail of resentment and
hatred, thus making it all the more difficult to find a just solution
of the very problems which provoked the war".159
160. Religious Freedom. Jesus proclaimed the time "when
true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth,
for the Father seeks such as these to worship him (Jn 4:26)".
Meek and humble of heart, Jesus "did not wish to be a political
Messiah who would dominate by force but preferred to call himself
the Son of Man who came to serve, and to give his life as 'a ransom
Today the Catholic Church repudiates the use of force in the name
of the Gospel and upholds freedom of conscience in matters of
religion. In accord with Vatican II's "Declaration on Religious
Liberty" (Dignitatis humanae), Catholics affirm freedom
of religion for all and repudiate the use of coercion in the spread
of the Gospel.161
The Catholic Church also repents of offenses committed "in the
name of Truth" in past centuries by officials' use of the civil
arm to suppress religious dissent, and she begs God's forgiveness
for these violations.162
161. History, Eschatology and Human Achievement. Catholics
believe that human achievement of every sort, particularly the
achievements of a political society that contributes to a greater
measure of justice and peace in the world, prepares humanity "to
share in the fullness which 'dwells in the Lord'".163
after we have obeyed the Lord, and in his Spirit have nurtured
on earth the values of human dignity, brotherhood and freedom
… we will find them again, but free of stain, burnished and transfigured.
This will be so when Christ hands over to the Father a kingdom
eternal and universal: 'a kingdom of truth and life, of holiness
and grace, of justice, love and peace'".164
At the same time sin, which is always attempting to trap us and
which jeopardizes our human achievements, is conquered and redeemed
by the reconciliation accomplished by Christ (cf. Col
Perspectives on Peace
162. Christological Basis of Our Peace Commitment. For
the Mennonite Church, peace has its basis in the love of God as
revealed in creation, in God's story with his people, and in the
life and message of Jesus Christ. The biblical word shalom
expresses well-being, wholeness, and the harmony and rightness
of relationships. Justice is the inseparable companion of peace,
as the prophets testify: "and the effect of justice will be peace
and the result of righteousness quietness and trust forever" (Is
163. God's peaceable kingdom is expressed definitively in
Jesus Christ, for "he is our peace, who has made us both [Gentile
and Jew] one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility"
(Eph 2:14). In Christ we see that God's love is radical,
loving even the enemy. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the
ultimate sign of the victory of the way of Jesus. Salvation and
ethics are based on and permeated by this way of Jesus.
164. What is a Peace Church? A peace
church is a church called to bear witness to the gospel of peace
grounded in Jesus Christ. The peace church places this conviction
at the centre of its faith and life, its teaching, worship, ministry
and practice, calling Jesus Lord and following him in his nonresistant
and nonviolent way. A peace church is nothing other than the Church,
the body of Christ. Every Church is called to be a peace church.166
165. The earliest Swiss Anabaptists, forerunners of the Mennonites,
saw the necessity of separating the church from its allegiance
to the state. Only in this way could they follow the nonviolent
way of Jesus and uphold their confession of Jesus as Lord, in
accordance with the early Christians of the apostolic era. Their
stance of nonresistance and conscientious objection to war was
a choice of faith (Mt 5:38-41). Within this frame of thinking,
"just war" considerations had no place, and the church must distance
itself from the state. For this reason, a peace church says farewell
to Constantinianism, the liaison of church and state. Even more,
the Church resists the captivity of the church in regard to her
For Mennonites, traditional Christology is often seen to have
been weakened by "Constantinianism" with the result that the normative
character of the teachings of Jesus is too often depreciated in
ethics and ecclesiology. In addition, theology too tightly tied
to state structures has often formulated social ethics from a
top down perspective, looking to political leaders for articulation
of what is possible rather than focusing on what Jesus taught
his disciples and how that can concretely be lived out by the
body of Christ in the world.
166. Discipleship and Peacemaking. The teachings and the
example of Christ give orientation for our theology and teaching
on peace. The concept of discipleship, of following Christ in
life, is central for Mennonite theology. Mennonites insist that
confessing Jesus Christ as Lord means that the humanity of Christ
has ethical relevance. Though the decisions he made and the steps
he took leading to his crucifixion must be interpreted in the
context of his times, they reveal the love of God for his followers.168
Christian love includes love of enemy, the message of forgiveness
as a gift for everybody, the concern for those at the margins
of society, and the call for a new community.
167. An ultimate theological challenge is to spell out the consequences
of the cross for our teaching on peace and war. The atonement
is the foundation of our peace with God and with one another.
Reconciliation and nonviolence belong to the heart of the Gospel.
Therefore an ethic of nonresistance, nonviolence, and active peacemaking
corresponds to our faith in God. God revealed his love for humanity
in Jesus Christ, who was willing to die on the cross as a consequence
of his message of the Kingdom of God. Thus the cross is the sign
of God's love of his enemies (Rom 5:10f.). In the resurrection
God confirms the way of Jesus and establishes new life. The conviction
that 'love is stronger than death' sustains Christians where their
faith leads to suffering.
168. What kinds of attitudes and activities are the marks of a
peace church? At the heart of its worship is the celebration of
God's presence. Witnessing to the presence of God in this world,
the Church is a community of those being reconciled. In a "Believer's
Church", reconciliation is reflected in all aspects of the church's
life. Its discipline orients members to reconciliation and conflict
resolution. In accordance with Mt 18:15-22, it applies
"binding and loosing" to biblical interpretation and ethical decisions.
The disciples' witness to the kingdom of God includes nonviolence,
active peacemaking, and the confrontation of injustice. Resistance
to violence means not only refusing to take part in it, but also
serving victims and confronting aggressors. The peace church seeks
to love the enemy while at the same time confronting evil and
oppression. It advocates justice for all. It expresses conscientious
objection to war and conscientious participation in state and
169. Mennonites engage in peace groups in congregations,
participate on peace committees on the national level, and promote
international peace networks via Mennonite World Conference and
Mennonite Central Committee. The conviction that peace has to
be built in many steps has led Mennonites to foster voluntary
service on different levels: as relief work and disaster service,
as educational work and the promotion of human rights. Methods
of conflict transformation and mediation have been worked out
and improved. Christian Peacemaker Teams are an initiative of
Mennonites and other Historic Peace Churches to intervene in situations
of armed conflict and protect threatened people by being present
with them and putting themselves on the line.
170. Mennonites in all parts of the world grapple with peace issues
and consider such a struggle to be a core practice of the Church.
For some, 'nonresistance' would describe best their stance of
faith in the sense of refusing to take part in war, shunning all
forms of violence and even refusing service of any kind to government.
For others, nonresistance no longer characterizes their conviction;
and a faith-based pacifism would be a more accurate term. In some
places in the world, Mennonites are moving in their theology and
praxis from 'nonresistance' to active nonviolence and to a position
of just peacemaking.169
This includes the prophetic denunciation of violence through active
criticism of government politics, as for example during the Balkan
171. Another dimension of peace understood biblically is
protecting the integrity of creation. A lifestyle of simplicity
and of responsible use of the world's limited resources has been
a typical stance for Mennonites for a long time.
stewards of God's earth, we are called to care for the earth and
to bring rest and renewal to the land and everything that lives
on it. As stewards of money and possessions, we are to live simply,
practice mutual aid within the church, uphold economic justice,
and give generously and cheerfully".170
172. Creation and Peace. Mennonites and Catholics
can agree that God, "who from one man has created the whole human
race and made them live all over the face of the earth" (Acts
17:26) has destined humanity for one and the same goal, namely,
communion with God's own self. Likewise, created in the image
and likeness of God, human beings are called to unity with one
another, through reciprocal self-giving (cf. Gen
1:26; Jn 17:21f.).171
Redemption, moreover, has restored to creation the peace lost
by sin (Gen 9:1-17; Col 1:19f.; Rev 21:5).
As God's new creation, Christians are called to live a new life
in peace with one another and with all humankind (2 Cor 13:11;
173. We also agree that the biblical vision of peace as shalom
entails protecting the integrity of creation (Gen 1:26-31;
2:5-15; 9:7-17; Ps 104).172
The Church is called to witness, in the spirit of stewardship,
that people may live as caretakers and not exploiters of the earth.
174. Christology and Peace. The peace witness of both Mennonites
and Catholics is rooted in Jesus Christ "who is our peace, who
has made us both one… making peace that he might reconcile us
both to God in one body through the cross" (Eph 2:14-16).
We understand peace through the teachings, life and death of Jesus
Christ. In his mission of reconciliation he remained faithful
unto death on the cross, and his fidelity was confirmed in the
resurrection. The cross is the sign of God's love of enemies.173
175. Ecclesiology and Peace. The Church is called
to be a peace church, a peacemaking church. This is based on a
conviction that we hold in common. We hold that the Church, founded
by Christ, is called to be a living sign and an effective instrument
of peace, overcoming every form of enmity and reconciling all
peoples in the peace of Christ (Eph 4:1-3).174
We affirm that Christ, in his Church, through baptism, overcomes
the differences between peoples (Gal 3:28). By virtue of
their baptism into Christ, all Christians are called to be peacemakers.
All forms of ethnic and inter-religious hatred and violence are
incompatible with the gospel, and the Church has a special role
in overcoming ethnic and religious differences and in building
Furthermore, we agree that it is a tragedy when Christians kill
176. Catholics and Mennonites share an appreciation of the Church
as different from simply human organizations, and together we
stand for religious freedom and the independence of the Church.
The freedom of the Church from state intervention enables her
to offer witness to the wider society. In virtue of their dignity
as children of God, moreover, all men and women possess the right
to freedom of religion and conscience. No one should be forced
to act contrary to conscience, particularly in matters of religion.
177. Peace and Justice. We affirm together that peace,
in the sense of the biblical word shalom, consists of well
being, wholeness, the harmony and rightness of relationships.
As inheritors of this biblical tradition, we believe that justice,
understood as right relationships, is the inseparable companion
of peace. As the prophets testify, "the effect of justice will
be peace and the result of righteousness quietness and trust forever"
(Is 32:17; cf. Ps 85:10, 13).176
178. We agree that the Gospel's vision of peace includes active
non-violence for the defence of human life and human rights, for
the promotion of economic justice for the poor, and in the interest
of fostering solidarity among peoples. Likewise, peace is the
realization of the fundamental right to live a life in dignity,
and so have access to all means to accomplish this: land, work,
health, and education. For this reason, the Church is called to
stand in solidarity with the poor and to be an advocate for the
oppressed. A peace built on oppression is a false peace.
179. We hold the conviction in common that reconciliation,
nonviolence, and active peacemaking belong to the heart of the
Gospel (Mt 5:9; Rom 12:14-21; Eph 6:15).
Christian peacemaking embraces active nonviolence in the resolution
of conflict both in domestic disputes and in international ones,177
and for resolving conflict situations. We believe that the availability
of such practices to individual groups and governments reduces
the temptation to turn to arms, even as a last resort.
180. Discipleship and Peace. Both agree that discipleship,
understood as following Christ in life in accordance with the
teaching and example of Jesus, is basic to the Christian life.
The earthly existence of Jesus is normative for human well being
(Jn 13:1-17; Phil 2:1-11).178
The decisions Jesus made and the steps he took leading to his
crucifixion reveal the centrality of love, including love of enemy,
in human life (Mt 5:38-48). They also include the message
of forgiveness as a gift for everybody, the concern for those
at the margins of society, and the call for a new community. Love
of neighbour is the fulfilment of the law, and love of our enemies
is the perfection of love (Rm 13:8; Mt 5:43-48).179
181. Christian peace witness belongs integrally to our walk as
followers of Christ and to the life of the Church as " the household
of God" and "a dwelling place of God in the Spirit" (Eph
2:19, 22). Christian communities have the responsibility to discern
the signs of the times and to respond to developments and events
with appropriate peace initiatives based on the life and teaching
of Jesus (Lk 19:41-44).180
The Mennonite Church tends to initiate its witness in and through
the discerning congregation:
by the Spirit, and beginning in the church, we witness to all
people that violence is not the will of God… We give our ultimate
loyalty to the God of grace and peace, who guides the church
daily in overcoming evil with good, who empowers us to do justice,
and who sustains us in the glorious hope of the peaceable reign
In the Catholic Church, peace initiatives come in many forms:
from parishes, communities of faith and religious movements, from
justice and peace or human rights commissions, from individual
bishops and conferences of bishops, from the Holy Father and various
offices of the Holy See.182
182. God revealed his love for humanity in Jesus Christ,
who was willing to die on the cross as a consequence of his message
of the Kingdom of God. The cross is the sign of God's love of
his enemies (Rom 5:10f.). For both Catholics and Mennonites
the ultimate personal and ecclesial challenge is to spell out
the consequences of the cross for our teaching on peace and war.
We acknowledge suffering as a possible consequence of our witness
to the Gospel of peace. We note with joy that we have a common
appreciation for martyrs, "the great cloud of witnesses" (Heb
12:1), who have given their lives in witness to truth.183
Together we hold that "God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom,
and God's weakness is stronger than human strength" (1 Cor
183. Mennonites and Catholics live with the expectation that
discipleship entails suffering. Jesus challenges us: "If any want
to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their
cross and follow me" (Mk 8:34). Love is stronger than death
- this faith sustains Christians where their faith leads to suffering.
Catholics affirm with Pope John Paul II:
is by uniting his own sufferings for the sake of truth and freedom
to the sufferings of Christ on the Cross that man is able to
accomplish the miracle of peace and is in a position to discern
the often narrow path between the cowardice which gives in to
evil and the violence which, under the illusion of fighting
evil, only makes it worse".184
Both Mennonites and Catholics take their inspiration from Gospel
texts such as Mark 10:35-45 and Luke 22:24-27, where Jesus invites
his followers to offer up their lives as servants.
184. Both our communities endeavour to foster the peaceable virtues:
forgiveness, love of enemies, respect for the life and dignity
of others, restraint, gentleness, mercy, and the spirit of self-sacrifice.
We also attempt to impart the spiritual resources for peacemaking
to our members. The mission of the Church has an eschatological
dimension. It anticipates the kingdom of God. The Church lives
in the tension between "already now" and "not yet". Already now
the Messianic time has come. But the past age has not yet come
to an end; its rules and values continue to exist. In this parallel
existence of the old and the new the Church has the decisive function:
to foster peace and to incarnate the new order of the kingdom
of God by helping its members to orient themselves according to
the rules of the kingdom.
185. Mennonites and Catholics share the common conviction that
worship and prayer belong to the core of Christian peace work.
We celebrate what we have received from God. We cry out to God
and we plead for peace. In prayer, we are renewed and by prayer
we receive orientation. When we meet for ecumenical prayer services,
we overcome existing divisions between us, and we experience communion
with God and with one another in faith.
186. Church and Society. While Catholics and Mennonites regard
political authority as part of the God-given moral order of the
universe, they tend to diverge on the question of participation
in government. Catholics understand the social nature of humanity
to be blessed by Christ's life and teaching.185
Participation in government is honoured and encouraged as a contribution
to the common good, and military service is respected.186
At the same time, nonviolent action, conscientious objection,
and resistance to immoral orders are strongly endorsed.187
Because of their long history of persecution and discrimination,
Mennonites have tended to mistrust the state. They still tend
to be critical of Christian involvement in government because
of the use of violence involved and the possible corruption of
187. Nonviolence and Just War. Mennonites include nonviolence
as an essential component of discipleship in the sense that in
principle they refuse to use violence in all situations. In situations
of conflict, however, both Catholics and some Mennonites acknowledge
that when all recourse to nonviolent means has failed, the state
or international authorities may use force in defence of the innocent.
For Mennonites, however, Christians should not participate in
this kind of action.188
For Catholics, Christians ought to be committed "as far as possible,
to live in peace with everyone" (Rom 12:18) and to encourage
their governments to resolve disputes peacefully, but Christians
may take up arms under legitimate authority in exceptional circumstances
for the defence of the innocent. Service in the military may be
virtuous, but conscientious objection to military service is also
respected. The Just War position provides tools for the prevention
and limitation of conflict as well as for warranting force by
political authorities. The principle of "right intention" requires
that force be used only to restore the peace and to protect the
innocent and not in a spirit of vengeance, a quest for domination,
or out of other motives inconsistent with love of enemy.
188. Mennonites and Catholics have somewhat different views
on non-resistance. Mennonites hold to non-resistance on principle
without exception, while Catholics affirm non-resistance, but
allow for exceptions. For Mennonites, non-resistance is part of
the new way of Jesus (Mt 5:38-41). There is an expectation
that Christians are called to adhere to the principles of ethics
implied in the 'new way,' and that through the power of the Holy
Spirit and the encouraging support of the Christian community,
it is possible to walk the way faithfully. For Catholics, non-resistance
is "a counsel of perfection", and Catholics, as well as all people
of goodwill, are required to resist grave public evil nonviolently,
if at all possible, but in exceptional circumstance by limited
use of force exercised by public authorities.189
of Future Study
189. Many questions remain to be explored. Among these are
the following: 1) What is the relationship of the different Christian
peace positions to the apostolic faith? 2) What place do initiatives
for conflict resolution and non-violent direct action have in
a Catholic theology of peace? 3) What is the relation of human
rights and justice to the non-violent resolution of conflict in
contemporary Mennonite theology? 4) How can we meet the challenge
of developing common theological perspectives on peace that reflect
the diverse voices of men and women from different contexts world
wide? 5) What is the role of the Church in promoting a culture
of peace in civil society and establishing institutions for the
practice of non-violence in public life? 6) What is the relationship
between peace, peace witness, the call to Christian unity and
the unity of the human family? 7) How is ethical discernment --
interpreting the signs of the times in regard to a unified and
concerted Christian peace witness -- carried out in Mennonite
and Catholic communities on the local and global levels?
on the Church, Lumen gentium, 1.
17. Cf. Rom 12.
Decree on the Church's Missionary Activity, Ad gentes,
Decree on Ecumenism Unitatis redintegratio, 22 and
the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, "Directory
for the Application of the Principles and Norms of Ecumenism"
(March, 1993), 92.
on Divine Revelation Dei verbum, 6.
The other points
are: "2) the Eucharist, as the Sacrament of the Body and Blood
of Christ, an offering of praise to the Father, the sacrificial
memorial and Real Presence of Christ and the sanctifying outpouring
of the Holy Spirit; 3) Ordination, as a Sacrament, to the
three-fold ministry of the episcopate, presbyterate and deaconate;
4) the Magisterium of the Church, entrusted to the Pope and
the Bishops in communion with him, understood as a responsibility
and an authority exercised in the name of Christ for teaching
and safeguarding the faith; 5) the Virgin Mary, as Mother
of God and Icon of the Church, the spiritual Mother who intercedes
for Christ's disciples and for all humanity" (Ut unum sint,
Ut unum sint, 94.2.
gentium, 23, 2; see also, Decree on the Ministry of Bishops,
Christus dominus, 11 and Congregation for the Doctrine
of the Faith, in "Some Aspects of the Church Understood as
Communion", Communionis notio, pp. 7f.
Communionis notio, 9.
Kasper, "Present Situation and Future of the Ecumenical Movement",
prolusio of the plenary meeting of the Pontifical Council
for Promoting Christian Unity, Information Service
109 (2002/I-II), p. 18.
Christus dominus, 11.
gentium, 13.3 and the Pontifical Council for Promoting
Christian Unity's "Directory for the Application of the Principles
and Norms of Ecumenism" (March 25, 1993), 16.
Ad gentes, 1, 4.
Ad gentes, 10.
Ad gentes, 22.
S. Bender, These Are My People: The New Testament Church
(Scottdale/Kitchener: Herald Press, 1962), pp. 1ff.
ibid., p. 23ff.
of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, 9 (Scottdale/Waterloo:
Herald Press, 1995), p. 39.
Kraus, The Community of the Spirit (Grand Rapids: Wm.
B. Eerdmans, 1974); Bender, op. cit., pp. 42ff. Bender's
terminology, "The Holy Community", is practically interchangeable
with the image of the "community of the Holy Spirit".
cit., p. 24.
Howard Yoder, Body Politics (Nashville: Discipleship
Resources, 1997), ch. 1.
F.H. Littell, The Anabaptist View of the Church :
A Study in the Origins of Sectarian Protestantism, second
edition, revised and enlarged (Boston: Beacon Press/Starr
King Press, 1958), pp. 37ff.
ed., Anabaptism in Outline (Scottdale/Kitchener: Herald
Press, 1981), p. 87.
of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, 9, op. cit.,
Friedmann, The Theology of Anabaptism (Scottdale: Herald
Press, 1973), pp. 149ff.
Three Reformation Catechisms: Catholic, Anabaptist, Lutheran
(New York/Toronto: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1982), p. 134.
Howard J. Loewen,
One Lord, One Church, One Hope, and One God: Mennonite
Confessions of Faith (Elkhart, IN: Institute of Mennonite
Studies, 1985), p. 166.
verbum, 10-20; Confession of Faith of the General Conference
of Mennonite Brethren Churches, 2 (Winnipeg/Hillsboro:
Kindred Productions, 1999); Confession of Faith in a Mennonite
Perspective, 4, op. cit., p. 21. According to Rainer
W. Burkart, secretary of the MWC Faith and Life Council, "statements
of faith from the Mennonite and Brethren in Christ tradition
often borrow language that can be found in the Apostles' and
Nicene Creeds, and some view the Apostles' Creed as a foundational
text for understanding the essentials of the faith. Many Mennonite
and Brethren in Christ confessions follow the traditional
creedal order…", Courier, A Quarterly Publication of the
Mennonite World Conference 12, 4 (1997), p. 3.
Catholics this is never without relationship to "Sacred Tradition
as indispensable to the interpretation of the Word of God",
Ut unum sint, 79.
Dei verbum, 11.
John C. Wenger, God's Word Written (Scottdale: Herald
Press, 1966); Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective,
4, op. cit., p. 42.
On the relationship
between incorporation into the Church and baptism, see para.
76 and 115-116 for the Catholic position and para. 92
and 121-124 for the Mennonite position.
of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, op. cit.,
4, p. 28.
Lumen gentium, 17, 33; "Decree on the Apostolate of
the Laity", Apostolicam actuositatem, 2-4; Dordrecht
Confession (1632), Art. V, Loewen, op. cit., p.
op. cit., p. 102.
et spes, 45.
Gwyn et al., A Declaration on Peace (Scottdale/Waterloo:
Herald Press, 1991).
of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, 9, op. cit.,
of the difference between ordained and lay ministry in Catholic
teaching, see para. 106.
Bender, "The Anabaptist Vision", op. cit., 13-17; Lumen
Apostolicam actuositatem, 28-32.
capitalize Tradition they acknowledge the close bond that
exists between Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture as "forming
one sacred deposit of the Word of God" (Dei verbum),
10) and not various human traditions that may develop in the
course of the history of the Church.
Dei verbum, 10.
Dei verbum, 7-10.
Council for Promoting Christian Unity, "Directory for the
Application", op. cit., 91.
Marlin Miller, "Priesthood of all Believers", Mennonite
Encyclopedia, vol. V (Scottdale/Waterloo: Herald Press,
1990), pp. 721-722. For Mennonites, the Reformation's emphasis
on the 'priesthood of all believers' did not become a point
of doctrine. The expression was used by some Anabaptists to
support the New Testament's teaching that all believers corporately
are a 'kingdom of priests,' a 'royal priesthood.'
Lumen gentium, 10, 34.
Ut unum sint, 79.
gentium, 48; Phil 2:12. In talking about the relationship
of Israel to the Church, Lumen gentium, 9 describes
the sacramental nature of the Church in this way: "Israel
according to the flesh, which wandered as an exile in the
desert, was already called the Church of God (2 Esdr
13:1; cf. Deut 23:1ff.; Num 20:4). So likewise
the new Israel, which while living in this present age goes
in search of a future and abiding city (Cf. Heb 13:14),
is called the Church of Christ (cf. Mt 16:18). For
he has bought it for himself with his blood (cf. Acts
20:28), has filled it with his Spirit and provided it with
those means which befit it as a visible and social union.
God gathered together as one all those who in faith look upon
Jesus as the author of salvation and the source of unity and
peace, and established them as the Church that for each and
all it may be the visible sacrament of this saving unity".
on the Sacred Liturgy", Sacrosanctum concilium, 61.
concilium, 59; Lumen gentium, 40.1; Gaudium
et spes, 38.2.
Sacrosanctum concilium, 7.
Sacrosanctum concilium, 8.
Lumen gentium, 11.1.
Sacrosanctum concilium, 41.2.
redintegratio, 22. "Directory for the Application…", op.
cit., footnote 41.
In Romanis, V, 9: PG 14, 1047; Cf. St. Augustine,
De Genesi ad litteram, X, 23, 39: PL 34, 426;
De peccatorum meritis et remissione et de baptismo parvulorum
ad Marcellinum, I, 26, 39: PL 44, 131. In fact,
three passages of the Acts of the Apostles (16:15, 16:33,
18:81) speak of the baptism of a whole household or family.
See also Irenaeus, Adv. Haereses II, 22, 4: PG 7,
784; Harvey I, 330. Many inscriptions from as early as the
second century give little children the title of "children
of God", a title given only to the baptized, or explicitly
mention that they were baptized: Cf., for example,
Corpus Inscriptionum Graecarum, 9727, 9801, 9817; E.
Diehl, ed., Inscriptiones Latinae Christianae Veteres (Berlin:
Weidmann, 1961), nos. 1523 (3), 4429 A. For a comprehensive
study of the question of the baptism of infants within the
context of the rites of Christian initiation, see Maxwell
E. Johnson, The Rites of Christian Initiation: Their Evolution
and Interpretation (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press,
of Rome, Apostolic Tradition, 21.
Baptism for Children, introduction. See also the instruction
by the "Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith", Pastoralis
actio (October 20, 1980), 14 which states: "The fact that
infants cannot yet profess personal faith does not prevent
the Church from conferring this sacrament on them, since in
reality it is in her own faith that she baptizes them. This
point of doctrine was clearly defined by Saint Augustine:
"When children are presented to be given spiritual grace",
he wrote, "it is not so much those holding them in their arms
who present them - although, if these people are good Christians,
they are included among those who present the children - as
the whole company of saints and faithful Christians.... It
is done by the whole of Mother Church which is in the saints,
since it is as a whole that she give birth to each and every
one of them" (Epist. 98, 5: PL 33, 362; Cf.
Sermo 176, 2, 2: PL 38, 950). This teaching is
repeated by St. Thomas Aquinas and all the theologians after
him: the child who is baptized believes not on its own account,
by a personal act, but through others, "through the Church's
faith communicated to it" (in Summa Theologica, IIIa,
q. 69, a. 5, ad 3, cf. q. 68, a. 9, ad 3). This same
teaching is also expressed in the new Rite of Baptism, when
the celebrant asks the parents and godparents to profess the
faith of the Church, the faith in which the children are baptized
(Ordo baptismi parvulorum, Praenotanda, 2: cf.
Lumen gentium, 11.
The term memorial
(zikkaron in Hebrew anamnesis in Greek) is a
technical term which is not merely the recollection of past
events but the proclamation of the mighty works (mirabilia
Dei) wrought by God for us (Ex 13:3). In liturgical celebrations
these events become in a certain way present and real.
of the Catholic Church, 2nd ed. rev. in accordance with
the official Latin text (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana,
2000), n. 1359.
shied away from the use of the term 'sacrament' because they
feared what they called 'sacramentalism,' the temptation to
attribute miraculous power to the ritual and its elements
as such. Even then, the designation 'sacrament' was used at
times, as for example in Art. 26 of the Ris Confession
(1766) which states: "That the Lord instituted this sacrament
(italics added) with the intention that it is to be observed
by His disciples in His church in all time, is plainly seen"
(Loewen, op. cit., p. 98).
A recent outline
of Anabaptist ordinances adds 'church discipline,' although
it is not commonly recognized as such. Church discipline replaced
the sacrament of penance by following the New Testament pattern
(Mt 18:15-18) of offering the sinner an opportunity
for repentance, forgiveness, and readmission into the fellowship
of the church. See C.A. Snyder, From Anabaptist Seed (Kitchener/Scottdale:
Pandora Press/Herald Press, 1999), pp. 28ff.
of outlining the meaning of baptism would be to follow an
early scheme developed by the Anabaptists on the basis of
1 Jn 5:7-8, which is understood as a reference to a three-fold
outline: baptism of the Holy Spirit, baptism of water, and
baptism of blood. Cf. "Confession of Faith According
to the Holy Word of God" (ca 1600), 21, in Thielemann J. van
Braght, Martyrs Mirror, op. cit., pp. 396ff.
"Walking in the Resurrection", The Mennonite Quarterly
Review, 35 (April, 1961), pp. 11-25.
Confession, Art 7, Loewen, op. cit., p. 65.
Art. 25, Loewen, ibid., p. 97.
Art. 9, p. 306.
Confession, Art. 7, Loewen, ibid., p. 65.
Confession, Art. 25, Loewen, ibid., pp. 97f.
Confession, Art. 3, Loewen, ibid., p. 80.
Art. 26, Loewen, ibid., p. 98.
of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, 12, op. cit.,
D. Rempel, The Lord's Supper in Anabaptism (Scottdale/Waterloo:
Herald Press, 1993). Rempel says that the Anabaptists "made
the church as a community the agent of the breaking of bread.
There is still a presider who symbolizes the community's order
and authority. But it is the congregation that does the action.
The Spirit is present in their action, transforming them so
that they are reconstituted as the body of Christ. The life
of the congregation, consecrated in its faith and love, consecrates
the elements" (p. 34).
Schleitheim Confession, 3, Loewen, op. cit.,
of the Catholic Church, 1374 citing the Council of Trent
(1551), DS 1651.
the local bishop and with the Bishop of Rome is understood
as a sign and service of the unity of the Church.
2; Lumen gentium, 1, 9, and especially 13; Gaudium
et spes, 42.
1, 4, 9, 13.
et spes, 42.
Sollicitudo rei socialis, 38-40, 45; Centesimus
Sacrosanctum concilium, 9-10; Lumen gentium,
3, 7; Sollicitudo rei socialis, 48.
et spes, 24-25, 32.
Lumen gentium, 1; Gaudium et spes, 4, 6, 24-25;
Sollicitudo rei socialis, 45.
rei socialis, 39. Cf. Jas 3:18.
et spes, 43, 88-91; Sollicitudo rei socialis, 42-43,
47; Centesimus annus, 58; Pope John Paul II, World
Day of Peace Message, 1993, "If You Want Peace, Reach Out
to the Poor". Cf. Mt 25: 41-36; Lk 14:15-24;
et spes, 28; Sollicitudo rei socialis, 40; Evangelium
Pope John Paul
II, "No Peace Without Justice, No Justice Without Forgiveness",
World Day of Peace Message, 2000.
annus, 23, 25.
Gaudium et spes, 88-93; Centesimus annus, 52.
Pope Paul VI,
"Peace is Possible", World Day of Peace Message, 1973.
Centesimus annus, 51-52.
et spes, 44, 64-65, 83-90, 32.
approach to peace (that is, Pope Paul VI: "If you want peace,
work for justice") is a complement to the contemporary practice
of Mennonites in conflict resolution, conflict transformation
and technical peace-building. It also is supportive of broader
conceptions of peace-building now being promoted in both Mennonite
and Catholic circles.
The Holy See
is the title the Catholic Church employs in international
et spes, 80.
vitae, 27; cf. 10-12, 39-41.
Gaudium et spes, 78.
Centesimus annus, 23, 25, 52.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2313; Pope John Paul
II, "Address to the International Conference on Nutrition",
Day of Peace Message, 2002; Evangelium vitae, 41; National
Conference of Catholic Bishops, "Harvest of Justice Is Sown
Pope John Paul
II, "Address to the Diplomatic Corps", January 12, 2003, (making
reference to the conflict then developing between the United
States and the United Kingdom with Iraq).
annus, 52; Evangelium vitae, 10, 12.
humanae, 11. Cf. Lk 22:21-27; Mk 10:45.
Dignitatis humanae, 7.
of Pardon, para. 200-202 below.
rei socialis, 31, 48.
et spes, 39.
rei socialis, 31.
Fernando Enns, Friedenskirche in der Ökumene. Mennonitische
Wurzeln einer Ethik der Gewaltfreiheit (Göttingen:
Vandenhoek & Ruprecht, 2003).
Enns, Friedenskirche, op. cit., and John Howard Yoder,
"Peace without Eschatology" in: The Royal Priesthood, op.
Howard Yoder, The Politics of Jesus, 2nd rev. ed.,
(Grand Rapids/Carlisle: Wm. B. Eerdmans/Paternoster, 1994).
Glenn Stassen, ed., Just Peacemaking: Ten Practices for
Abolishing War (Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 1998); Duane
K. Friesen, Christian Peacemaking and International Conflict:
A Realist Pacifist Perspective (Scottdale/Waterloo: Herald
of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, op. cit.,
21. Cf. also H. S. Bender et al., "Simplicity"
in Mennonite Encyclopedia, IV, op. cit., pp.
the model for a vision of the union of humans with one another
is based theologically on the union of the Trinity (cf.
Gaudium et spes, 24).
of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, op. cit., 21. Sollicitudo
rei socialis, 26, 29-30, esp. 34; Pope John Paul II, "Peace
with God, Peace with All Creation", World Day of Peace Message,
A quote from
Menno Simons expresses the close theological bond in Christology
between the peaceful nature of Jesus Christ and our lives:
"Christ is everywhere represented to us as humble, meek, merciful,
just, holy, wise, spiritual, long-suffering, patient, peaceable,
lovely, obedient, and good, as the perfection of all things;
for in him there is an upright nature. Behold, this is the
image of God, of Christ as to the Spirit which we have as
an example until we become like it in nature and reveal it
by our walk" (Menno Simons, "The Spiritual Resurrection" (c.
1536), in J.C. Wenger, ed., The Complete Writings of Menno
Simons (Scottdale: Herald Press, 1956), pp. 55f. Catholic
teaching on the link between peace and the redemptive work
of the Lord is best seen in Gaudium et spes; 38: "Undergoing
death itself for all of us sinners (cf. Jn 3:16;
Rom 5:8), he taught us by example that we too must
shoulder that cross which the world and the flesh inflict
upon those who search after peace and justice". See also Gaudium
et spes; 28 and 32.
of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, 22, op. cit.,
22; Gaudium et spes, 42 and 78.
John Paul II, "To Build Peace, Respect Minorities", World
Day of Peace Message, 1989; Gaudium et spes, 42. A
widely accepted Mennonite standpoint with respect to all conflict,
including international conflict, is expressed in A Declaration
on Peace: In God's People the World's Renewal Has Begun, co-authored
by Douglas Gwyn, George Hunsinger, Eugene F. Roop, John Howard
Yoder (Scottdale/Waterloo: Herald Press, 1991), which states
in part: "The church's most effective witness and action against
war … consists simply in the stand she takes in and through
her members in the face of war. Unless the church, trusting
the power of God in whose hand the destinies of the nations
lie, is willing to 'fall into the ground and die,' to renounce
war absolutely, whatever sacrifice of freedoms, advantages,
or possessions this might entail, even to the point of counseling
a nation not to resist foreign conquest and occupation, she
can give no prophetic message for the world of nations" (pp.
Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, 22,
op. cit., Populorum progressio, 76-80; Centesimus
Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, 22,
op. cit.; Centesimus annus, 23.
Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, 17,
op. cit.; Gaudium et spes, 32.
Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, 22,
op. cit.; Gaudium et spes, 28.
Octogesima adveniens, 4.
of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, 22, op. cit.
Gaudium et spes, 89-90.
see Martyrs Mirror, op. cit.; for Catholics,
in addition to the long liturgical tradition of commemorating
martyrs and other witnesses to the faith in the course of
the centuries, during the celebration of the Great Jubilee
of the Year 2000, there was an ecumenical commemoration of
"recent witnesses and martyrs". See also Robert Royal, The
Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century (New York: Crossroads,
Gaudium et spes, 32.
Gaudium et spes, 74, 79.
Gaudium et spes, 78-79.
Schleitheim Confession, 1527, VI., in Loewen, op.
cit., pp. 80f.
Gaudium et spes, 78; Evangelium vitae, 41; Catechism
of the Catholic Church, 2267.