Communiqué: Evangelical-Catholic consultation 1997

 — Oct. 19, 199719 oct. 1997

Evangelicals and Catholics Converse About Church and Mission

Communiqué from conversations between the World Evangelical Fellowship
and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
on the nature and mission of the Church
Tantur, Jerusalem, October 12-19, 1997

In 1993 there was a first meeting in Venice (Italy) for conversations between Evangelical and Roman Catholic representatives, co-sponsored by the World Evangelical Fellowship and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. The themes were Justification, Scripture and Tradition. As a follow up to it, a second meeting for conversations was held in the Ecumenical Institute of Tantur (Jerusalem), October 12-19, 1997. Participants represented different regions of the world and a variety of Christian ministries.

The main themes for these conversations — agreed upon during the Venice meeting — were issues related to the nature and mission of the Church. Representatives of each tradition presented a paper on each theme. The discussion that followed evidenced a spirit of mutual acceptance and disposition to listen to one another and pray together.

From the discussions, some points of agreement emerged, as well as areas that demand more reflection and theological work. It was felt that it is still too early to present an elaborate document. We therefore limit ourselves to list the main points on which we have come to a common understanding as well as the points that we would suggest as an agenda for the future conversations between the World Evangelical Fellowship and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, if both partners agree to do so.


a). The attributes of the Church as one, holy, catholic and apostolic, which we confess with the ancient Creeds, are commonly seen as a fruitful starting point for further study on ecclesiology. Questions were raised about whether these attributes describe an ideal of the Church, or are somehow already present in the existing churches but require greater visible expression.

b). The concept of real but imperfect communion among Christians and among churches is often used in Roman Catholic documents on ecumenism. Questions were raised about the adequacy of this concept for describing the relationship between Evangelicals and Catholics. Though the concept seemed helpful, it was agreed that more study is needed as to the content and expressions of that imperfect communion, particularly because it has a bearing on relationships in mission.

c). We agreed that further discussion should be carried on about the Catholic positions on the following points, the appropriateness of using the incarnation as an analogy for the Church, the meaning of sacraments and sacrementality, the essential difference between the priesthood of all believers and the ordained ministry. We also agreed that further discussion should be carried on about the Evangelical positions in regard to the relationship between mission and the Church, as well as mission and unity.


a). Evangelicals and Catholics agree fully about the importance of the missionary nature of the Church. Among Evangelicals this conviction has been expressed in intense missionary activity focused on the communication of the Gospel, demanding personal response ‘to the saving work of Jesus Christ. The commitment of the Catholic Church to mission is reflected in its constant missionary activity over the centuries and reaffirmed in several authoritative documents from Vatican II onwards.

b). Catholics and Evangelicals agree that two basic convictions have to be kept together, namely the uniqueness of Jesus Christ and his atoning work, as well as the universal saving purpose of God. During conversations questions emerged about the relationship between the biblical mandate for mission and the possibility of salvation of non-Christians.

c). Among the issues we discussed were religious liberty, evangelicalism and proselytism and their relationship to Christian unity. We join together in urging that in future discussions these issues be firmly linked and jointly considered, not as separable questions but as a single set of related concerns.

d). While recognising the importance of missionary zeal, we call for charity, fairness and mutual consideration in mission activities, especially in places where Christian communities have long existed and borne witness sometimes through costly presence and suffering. Catholics and Evangelicals must work together to protect freedom of conscience for all persons, and to ensure civil guarantees of freedom of assembly, speech and press.


We recommend that further conversations be organised by the WEF Theological Commission and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. We suggest that these begin in 1999, with discussion on communion and cooperation in mission, and proselytism and religious freedom in relation to Christian unity.


WEF Members:

Dr. Paul G. Schrotenboer (Secretary), USA (deceased)
Dr. Henri Blocher, Faculté de Théologie Evangélique, Vaux-sur-Seine, France
Dr. Samuel Escobar, Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, Pa, USA
Dr. Stanley Mutunga, Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology, Kenya
Dr. Thomas Oden, Drew Theological Seminary, Madison, NJ, USA
Dr. George Vandervelde, Institute for Christian Studies, Toronto, Canada
Dr. Peter Kuzmi, Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, Massachusetts, USA (unable to attend)

Roman Catholic Members:

Rev. Timothy Galligan (Secretary), Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Vatican
Rev. Frans Bouwen MAfr., Jerusalem
Rev. Msgr. Joseph Dinh Duc Dao, Centro Internazionale di Animazione Missionaria
Rev. Avery Dulles S.J., Fordham University, NY, USA
Sister Maria Ko F.M.A., Pontific Facolta Auxilium
Rev. Msgr. John A. Radano, Pontifical Council for Propagating Christian Unity, Vatican
Rev. Thomas F. Stransky C.S.P., Tantur Ecumenical Institute
Rev. Juan Usma Gomez (Consultant), Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Vatican

Posted: Oct. 19, 1997 • Permanent link:
Categories: Communiqué, Evangelical-Roman Catholic DialogueIn this article: Catholic, Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, World Evangelical Alliance
Transmis : 19 oct. 1997 • Lien permanente :
Catégorie : Communiqué, Evangelical-Roman Catholic DialogueDans cet article : Catholic, Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, World Evangelical Alliance

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