Friday, January 28, 2011

Mennonites, Lutherans, and Catholics to dialogue on baptism

I missed noticing this bit of promising ecumenical news posted back in August 2010 on Ecumenism in Canada, the web site of the Prairie Centre for Ecumenism in Saskatoon, regarding a new "trilateral" dialogue on baptism between the Mennonite World Conference, the Lutheran World Federation, and the Roman Catholic Church that will begin later this year. Thanks to Gerald Stover for bringing this to my attention. The text of the news brief follows.

Mennonites, Lutherans and Catholics to dialogue on baptism

A recent meeting of the executive committee of the Mennonite World Conference (MWC) was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from July 28 to August 4, 2010. Among other topics on the agenda for the meeting were proposals for two ecumenical dialogues, one with Seventh Day Adventists, and the other with Lutherans and Catholics.

After hearing positive and emotional reports from the MWC representatives who had just come from a Lutheran World Federation assembly in Stuttgart, Germany, at which Lutherans apologized for the legacy of the persecution of Anabaptists in the 16th century, the executive committee approved participation in two interchurch dialogues:

• bilateral conversations with the World Conference of Seventh Day Adventists on “lifestyles as Christians,” particularly the biblical understandings and practices of peace;

• tri-lateral conversations on baptism between the Lutheran World Federation, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity of the Catholic Church, and MWC.

Both dialogues will begin in 2011.

Representatives from Latin America, while approving, urged caution. “Given the reservations that some of our churches have, because of persecution from the Catholics in the past and statements which continue to this day, it’s very important that the objectives for dialogue be very clear,” said Edgardo Sanchez.

Larry Miller, general secretary of the MWC, noted that one reason for some interchurch conversations, such as those with both Catholics and Lutherans, is to talk about the past and memories of the past. “Because of our history, we Anabaptists have often seen ourselves as heirs of martyrs, and we need to come to terms with how that affects our view of the world,” he said. “We also need to see ourselves as members of the wider body of Christ, called to give an account of our convictions and practices, and to receive others as they do likewise.”

The Mennonite-Catholic dialogue produced a report entitled "Called Together to Be Peacemakers" in 2003. The central theme of this dialogue was the healing memories.

Posted: August 26, 2010

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