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.