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).

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Latest round of Baptist-Roman Catholic conversations concluded

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.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Baptist-Catholic Theological Conversations Continue in Rome (BWA Communications)

Today the Baptist World Alliance communications division issued this press release regarding next week's round of conversations between the Baptist World Alliance and the Roman Catholic Church (click on hyperlink).

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Curtis Freeman on "Baptists & Catholics Together? Making Up Is Hard to Do"

In connection with the upcoming round of conversations between the Baptist World Alliance and the Roman Catholic Church mentioned in the last post, Curtis Freeman's article "Baptists & Catholics Together? Making Up Is Hard to Do" in Commonweal (16 January 2009), pp. 18-21 does a fine job of placing the current dialogue series within the broader context of Baptist-Catholic relations (click on hyperlinked title).

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Baptists and Catholics in Conversation: Oversight and Primacy in the Ministry of the Church

A week from today I depart for Rome, where the delegations from the Baptist World Alliance and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity to the 2006-2010 series of bilateral ecumenical dialogues on the theme "The Word of God in the Life of the Church: Scripture, Tradition, and Koinonia" will reconvene for a week of meetings at the Domus Internationalis Paulus VI. Following three previous sessions of conversations on The Authority of Christ in Scripture and Tradition, Baptism and the Lord's Supper, and Mary in the Communion of the Church, this year's session will focus on the ecclesiological themes Oversight and Primacy in the Ministry of the Church.

Members of the Baptist delegation will be co-chair Paul Fiddes of the University of Oxford; co-secretary Fausto Vasconcelos, Director of the Education & Evangelism and Study & Research divisions of the Baptist World Alliance; Timothy George and Steven Harmon of Samford University's Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama; Anthony Peck, General Secretary of the European Baptist Federation; Tomas Mackey of the Baptist Seminary in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Nora Lozano of the Baptist University of the Americas in San Antonio, Texas; Rachael Tan of the Taiwan Baptist Theological Seminary; Curtis Freeman of the Baptist House of Studies at Duke Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina; Fred Deegbe, General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana; Elizabeth Newman of the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, Virginia; Massimo Aprile of the Baptist Convention of Italy; and Tadeusz Zielinski of Warsaw Baptist Theological Seminary in Poland.

Members of the Roman Catholic delegation will be co-chair Bishop Arthur Serratelli of the Diocese of Paterson, New Jersey; co-secretary Gregory Fairbanks of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; Jorge Scampini of the Convento de Sto Domingo in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Krzysztof Mielcarek of the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin in Poland; Susan Wood of Marquette University in Milwauke, Wisconsin; Peter Casarella of DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois; William Henn of the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome; Teresa Francesca Rossi of the Centro Pro Unione in Rome; Dennis McManus of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.; and Sara Butler of Saint Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers, New York.

Stay tuned here for additional information.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

"Ecumenical Theology and/as Systematic Theology"--full text PDF

With the kind permission of the editors of Ecumenical Trends, I am able to make available here in PDF the full text of my article "Ecumenical Theology and/as Systematic Theology," which was published in Ecumenical Trends 38, no. 9 (October 2009), pp. 6/134-9/137 and 15/143 (click on hyperlinked title).

In connection with which: A few weeks after the article was published, I enjoyed coming across a similar observation about the nature of ecumenical theology in Paul Murray's introductory essay to his edited volume Receptive Ecumenism and the Call to Catholic Learning (Oxford University Press, 2008):

[I]t would have to be acknowledged that the various developments achieved in bilateral dialogues over the last forty years in terms of increased mutual understanding and doctrinal clarification--together constituting some of the best examples of constructive Christian theology in a generation--have only been possible because the long-term participants have been prepared to commit to the challenge of attending closely to another tradition, seeking to gain clearer understanding of it and being open thereby to receiving of the other's particular gifts [p. 13, emphasis added].