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Catholics and Methodists celebrate 50 years of dialogue

The Methodist Roman Catholic International Commission met for its 11th session of dialogue in Rome in October. The highlight of the week was the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the work of the Commission on Thursday 19th. After Mass at the altar of the tomb of St Peter and a visit to his tomb in the scavi, members of the Commission were received by Pope Francis, along with the Steering Committee of the World Methodist Council, in audience in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace.
Bishop John Sherrington, Catholic Co-Chair said, ‘At the tomb of St Peter, it was deeply moving to pray together as Methodists and Catholics the “Our Father” and recognise our common roots. The audience with the Holy Father was a wonderful meeting during which Pope Francis affirmed the work of the dialogue, appreciated the fruits it has produced and encouraged our work for the future to continue to grow in holiness and unity. We presented him with a Spanish translation of our last document “The Call to Holiness” with which he was delighted. Many members spoke later of the Holy Father’s profound humility and the respect with which he greeted them.’
The day of celebration continued with a seminar at the Centro pro Unione at which Mrs Gillian Kingston and Dr Clare Watkins presented stimulating papers on the fruits of the joint work and challenges for the future. A reflective discussion followed with responses from Dr David Chapman and Bishop John. The day ended with Vespers at Caravita and a reception hosted by the British Ambassador to the Holy See, HE Sally Axworthy, MBE.
During the week the Commission discussed papers on the theme of ‘God in Christ Reconciling’ including focus on the scriptures and reconciliation, Church experiences of reconciliation, the healing of memories and the mission to be ambassadors of reconciliation working for justice, peace and integrity with creation. Bishop John commented, ‘The international experience of the Commission members has been enriched by new members from Africa and India as well as Canada and Australia. This enables the Commission to be more aware of the ways in which culture impacts on the Christian life in diverse situations.’
He expressed his gratitude to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the World Methodist Council for their sponsorship of the on-going work of dialogue. Next year the Commission continues its discussions in Hong Kong