Communiqué: Evangelical-Catholic consultation 1999

 — Nov. 13, 199913 nov. 1999

A Communiqué of the International Consultation
between the Catholic Church and the World Evangelical Fellowship
November 7-13, 1999

1. A theological consultation between Evangelicals and Catholics took place from 7-13 November 1999. Jointly sponsored by the World Evangelical Fellowship’s Theological Commission and the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the meeting took place at the George Williams Campus of Aurora University, Williams Bay, Wisconsin, USA. It followed on from two previous consultations between WEF and Catholic Church representatives, held in 1993 in Venice, Italy and in 1997 at the Tantur Ecumenical Institute near Jerusalem. [Note: The World Evangelical Fellowship (WEF) changed its name to World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) in 2000.]

2. The Williams Bay meeting sought to deepen mutual understanding and respect between Evangelicals and Catholics, using the occasion to hear how each understood one another’s traditions, convictions and concerns. More particularly its aim was to face misunderstandings that put stumbling blocks in the way of the Good News being proclaimed and heard.

Four papers were prepared for the consultation. On the theme of koinonia (fellowship or communion) two papers were discussed: “An Evangelical Perspective on Church Koinonia” by Henri Blocher and “The Church as Communion: A Catholic Perspective,” by Avery Dulles. Later discussion of evangelization and common witness and their difficulties began on the basis of a paper by M. Daniel Carroll R., “The Evangelical-Roman Catholic Dialogue: Issues Revolving around Evangelization. A View from Latin America” and one by Thomas Stransky, “Religious Freedom, Christian Witness and Proselytism.”

3. As we listened jointly to the Scriptures, prayed together, and spoke the truth to one another in love, we recognized and rejoiced in the fellowship we have in Christ based on our common faith in him. The riches of this gift are such that all who share in it cannot regard each other as strangers much less treat each other as enemies. Rather in all we say and do we are to “make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Eph. 4:3)

We considered key aspects of this bond of peace, especially the relation of the personal and the communal dimensions. Koinonia is communion with God in the Body of Christ, the Church, through the Holy Spirit. Primary in this communion are the gifts of faith, hope and love. By the proclaimed and written Word of Christ, believers enjoy free access to God and fellowship with one another. Koinonia is not only spiritual and invisible; it is experienced within and among visible communities.

We recognize that full koinonia, the unity of Christian truth and life, does not demand uniformity but allows for legitimate diversity of expression in doctrine, theology, polity, and liturgical practice. Imperfect koinonia exists, even amidst divisions, when there is common faith in Christ but disagreement on weighty matters.

We found considerable agreement about the Christian responsibility to promote in public life the rights of individuals and communities to religious freedom. Christians should be guaranteed the freedom to proclaim this Gospel in order to bring people to Jesus Christ or to a deeper faith in Him. All who call themselves Christians have mutual responsibilities because of the bond of koinonia. Therefore conflicts between Christian communities in the area of religious freedom should be resolved in accordance with the obligations of koinonia and Christ’s call to unity. It was agreed that this freedom should not be abused by unethical forms of witness and proclamation, such as those which denigrate the other community, misrepresent the other, are intellectually dishonest or ill-informed, or manipulate or coerce others.

Christians can collaborate together in love and mutual respect even though their fellowship is incomplete. This does not have to involve indifference or compromising one’s convictions. Collaboration entails accurate information about the other’s history, beliefs, and practices.

These conversations have enabled the participants to grow in respect for each other as Christians and to seek deeper mutual relationship in Jesus Christ. Further work will be needed to discuss sharp differences which remain about who may be regarded as “unreached,” “unchurched,” “nominal Christians,” or not truly “in Christ.”

4. On Thursday 11 November the group traveled to Wheaton College, Illinois where they visited the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals, meeting with Dr. Edith Blumhofer, Director of the Institute and touring the museum dedicated to the history of Protestant evangelism in USA located at the college. In the afternoon they visited Trinity Evangelical Divinity School for an informal reception and conversation with the founding Dean, Dr. Kenneth Kantzer, senior administration and some faculty members. In the evening, at St. Mary’s of Lake University, Mundelein, Illinois, the Seminary of the Archdiocese of Chicago, the group was hosted at a dinner during which they met members of the local Evangelical-Catholic Common Root Project, some of the faculty and Cardinal Francis George. The Cardinal welcomed the group and encouraged the consultation.

5. It has been agreed that these theological conversations ought to go forward on a regular basis. The next meeting, scheduled for February 2001, is to clarify further the elements of convergence uncovered during the conversations at Williams Bay. We have sought the guidance of the Lord of the Church and given glory to Him for the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit. May God, who has begun this good work in us, bring it to completion. (Cf. Phil.1:6)


WEF Members

Dr. George Vandervelde (Secretary)
Dr. Henri Blocher
Dr. M. Daniel Carroll R.
Dr. Thomas Oden
Dr. James Stamoolis
Dr. Tite Tienou

Catholic Members

Rev. Timothy Galligan (Secretary)
Rev. Avery Dulles, S.J.
Rev. John Haughey, S.J.
Sister Maria Ko, F.M.A.
Rev. Msgr. John A. Radano
Rev. Thomas F. Stransky, C.S.P.
Rev. Juan Usma Gómez
Brother Jeffrey Gros, F.S.C. (Observer)

Posted: Nov. 13, 1999 • Permanent link:
Categories: Communiqué, Evangelical-Roman Catholic DialogueIn this article: Catholic, dialogue, World Evangelical Alliance
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Catégorie : Communiqué, Evangelical-Roman Catholic DialogueDans cet article : Catholic, dialogue, World Evangelical Alliance

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