Monday, December 28, 2009

BWA-RCC conversations 2009--official press release

Theological Conversations between the Baptist World Alliance and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity

The fourth round in the second series of conversations between the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) and the Catholic Church took place December 13-18, 2009 in Rome, Italy.

The first round in this series was held at Beeson Divinity School, Samford University, in Birmingham, Alabama (USA), from December 10-15, 2006. The second round was held December 2-8, 2007 in Rome, Italy. The third round was held at December 14-20, 2008 in Durham, North Carolina (United States) at the Duke Divinity School. A first phase of international conversations had taken place in 1984-1988, resulting in a report in 1990 entitled “Summons to Witness to Christ in Today’s World.

The overall theme of this phase, from 2006-2010, is “The Word of God in the Life of the Church: Scripture, Tradition and Koinonia.”

Bishop Arthur Serratelli, Bishop of Paterson, New Jersey, USA, and Rev. Dr. Paul Fiddes, Professor of Systematic Theology in the University of Oxford, Oxford, England, UK, co-chair these conversations on behalf of the Catholic Church and Baptist World Alliance respectively. The secretaries for the co-chairs were Dr. Fausto Vasconcelos of the Study and Research Division of the BWA and Rev. Gregory J. Fairbanks the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

The Baptist team consists of permanent members, and persons specially invited as “esteemed guests.” Permanent members participating in this round of conversations include Drs. Fred Degbee (Ghana), Curtis Freeman (USA), Timothy George (USA), Steven Harmon (USA), Nora Lozano (USA), Tomás Mackey (Argentina), Elizabeth Newman (USA), Rev. Tony Peck (Czech Republic), Drs. Rachael Tan (Taiwan) and Tadeusz J. Zielinski (Poland). Rev. Massimo Aprile (Italy) was the esteemed guest for this round of conversations.

The Catholic team consists of permanent members and consultants. Participating Catholic members included Drs. Peter Casarella and Susan K. Wood, SCL of the USA, Dr. Krzysztof Mielcarek from Poland, Rev. William Henn, ofm cap. and Dr. Teresa Francesca Rossi of Italy, and Rev. Jorge Scampini, O.P. of Argentina. Sr. Sara Butler, M.S.B.T. participated as a consultant.

The topic of this round was “Oversight and Primacy in the Ministry of the Church.” Papers delivered for the Catholic delegation were Contemporary Developments of the Petrine Office Including the Ministry of Unity as Outlined in Ut unum sint by Rev. William Henn, OFM Cap., The Episcopal Ministry at the service of Unity in the Church by Rev. Jorge A. Scampini, O.P. and Continuity and Development in Roman Catholic Ecclesiology by Dr. Susan K. Wood, SCL. Baptist papers delivered were Where Two or Three Are Gathered: Toward a Baptist Understanding of the Church by Dr. Curtis W. Freeman; Episkopè in Scripture and Tradition – A Baptist Perspective by Rev. Anthony Peck and The Papal Office in Traditional and Ecumenical Baptist Perspectives by Dr. Tadeusz Zelinski.

The group will convene for its fifth and final round of these conversations in 2010.
Photo: 1st row (right to left)--Fred Deegbe (BWA, Ghana), William Hehn (PCPCU, Italy), Rachael Tan (BWA, Tawain), Elizabeth Newman (BWA, USA), Timothy George (BWA, USA), Teresa Rossi (PCPCU, Italy), Arthur Serratelli (PCPCU Delegation Chair, USA), Paul Fiddes (BWA Delegation Chair, UK), Massimo Aprile (BWA, Italy), Susan Woods (PCPCU, USA), Nora Lozano (BWA, USA), Fausto Vasconcelos (BWA Office, USA); 2nd row (right to left)--Gregory Fairbanks (PCPCU Office, Italy), Krzysztof Mielcarek (PCPCU, Poland), Steven Harmon (BWA, USA), Tony Peck (BWA, UK), Curtis Freeman (BWA, USA), Tadeusz Zielinski (BWA, Poland), Tomás Mackey (BWA, Argentina), Peter Casarella (PCPCU, USA), Sara Butler (PCPCU, USA), Jorge Scampini (PCPCU, Argentina).


  1. Steven,

    Thank you for this notice! As a Catholic in an interchurch marriage with a Baptist, I am quite interested in these dialogues. Do you know how we could obtain copies of the papers and reports in these series and rounds of conversations?

    Thank you.

  2. Dave,

    Thanks for your question. I happen to think that marriages such as yours can be vital practices of ecumenical engagement that can make significant contributions to the quest for Christian unity.

    This page includes a link to the text of the final report from the 1984-88 series of Baptist-Roman Catholic conversations: There will also be a final report from the current series, hopefully available in 2011. At present most of the papers from the current series remain unpublished. I've contributed two papers that have been published, however: “Scripture in the Life of the Baptist Churches: Openings for a Differentiated Catholic-Baptist Consensus on Sacred Scripture.” Pro Ecclesia 18, no. 2 (Spring 2009): 187-215, and “Dei Verbum § 9 in Baptist Perspective.” Ecclesiology 5, no. 3 (September 2009): 299-321. The latter is available online:

    You may be interested also in reading about a recent agreement signed by Baptists and Catholics in Italy regarding inter-church marriages involving members of the two communions:

    And for what it's worth, the Apostolic Letter on Mixed Marriages by Pope Paul VI ( and the sections on mixed marriages in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (sections 1633-1637) are helpful.


  3. Thank you for your careful and detailed description of the recent BWC --RCC 2009 Conversations.

    Your commitment to egalitarian sharing of the proceeds of such official gatherings of ecumenists is clearly visible.

    Laity and Inter church couples here in the USA will want to note the 80 page "Popular Version of the Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms of Ecumenism" entitled "The Search for Christian Unity" published in 2002 by the Roman Catholic Bishops of England and Wales for use in small groups at the parish and congregational level. Professor Harmon's Baptist British colleagues are most likely aware of this publication which is available to the public for download and printing directly off-line at :

    under "Publications" ( about on-third down the list of available articles.)

    GW Stover bethlehem PA

  4. Gerald,

    Thanks for passing this along!