Thursday, December 23, 2010

Baptist World Alliance / Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity joint international commission press release


Theological Conversations between the Baptist World Alliance and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
December 2010

The final round in the second series of theological conversations between the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) of the Catholic Church took place December 12-18 in Oxford, England. The co-hosts were two Permanent Private Halls of the University of Oxford: Regent’s Park College (Baptist) and St. Benet’s Hall (Benedictine).

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.”

An overall aim is to explore the common ground in biblical teaching, apostolic faith and practical Christian living between Baptists and Catholics, as well as an examination of areas that still divide the two Christian traditions.

The objectives of these international conversations are to increase mutual understanding, appreciation, and Christian charity toward each other; to foster a shared life of discipleship within the communion of the triune God; to develop and to extend a common witness to Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world and the Lord of all life; and to encourage further action together on ethical issues, including justice, peace and the sanctity of life, in accord with God’s purpose and to the praise of God’s glory.

The 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 Rev. Dr. Fausto A. Vasconcelos (BWA) and Rev. Dr. Gregory J. Fairbanks (PCPCU).

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), Timothy George (USA), Steven Harmon (USA), Nora Lozano (USA), Tom├ís Mackey (Argentina), Rev. Tony Peck (Czech Republic), Drs. Rachael Tan (Taiwan) and Tadeusz J. Zielinski (Poland). Drs. Curtis Freeman (USA) and Elizabeth Newman (USA) participated as “esteemed guests” 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., of the USA, participated as a consultant.

BWA General Secretary Rev. Dr. Neville Callam sent a message which was read to the Joint International Commission of the Baptist World Alliance and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity at the start of the week.

Greetings were also conveyed by Rev. J. Felix Stephens, OSB, Master, St Benet’s Hall, Oxford, Co-Host of the Conversations; Rev. Dr. Robert Ellis, Principal, Regent’s Park College, Oxford, Co-Host of the Conversations; The Very Rev. Dr. Richard Finn, OP, Regent of Blackfriars Hall, Oxford; Rev. Brendan Callaghan, SJ, Master of Campion Hall, Oxford; Dr. Paul Joyce, Chairman of the Board of the Faculty of Theology in the University; Monsignor Andrew J. Faley, Assistant General Secretary, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales; The Rev. Graham Sparkes, Head of Department for Faith and Unity, Baptist Union of Great Britain, and Rev. Dr. Mary Cotes, Ecumenical Moderator, Milton Keynes,

The 2010 meeting in Oxford brought to completion the second phase of international conversations and focused on the preparation of the final report.

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