I'm now well on my way to recovery from jet lag after my trip to Rome for participation in the latest round of conversations between the Baptist World Alliance and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. This year's conversations focused fruitfully on our respective patterns of ecclesiology, approaches to episkope (oversight), and perspectives on the Petrine office exercised by the pope. Next year's conversations, tentatively scheduled to convene next December at the University of Oxford, will be devoted to work on the final report that will be presented to the two communions for approval.
A highlight of our meetings was a visit to a session by Walter Cardinal Kasper (3rd from left on photo above), President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, who may very well be my favorite contemporary Roman Catholic theologian. Cardinal Kasper encouraged us with his perspectives on Catholic ecclesiology and possible ways forward in ecumenical engagement. He also presented each member of the two delegations with a copy of his book Harvesting the Fruits: Basic Aspects of Christian Faith in Ecumenical Dialogue (Continuum, 2009), which summarizes the results of four decades of substantial ecumenical dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, the Anglican Consultative Council, and the World Methodist Council. It made for a stimulating read on the plane during my journey home, and I believe I'll be consulting it in connection with future writing projects.