A symposium was held in Rome last week to discuss issues presented in a recently released book on "important questions for the future direction and content of ecumenical discussion." The book features the results of 40 years of bilateral dialogues between the Catholic Church and four Christian denominations.
According to a Vatican communique, theologians from the Roman Catholic Church, the World Lutheran Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, the Anglican Communion and the World Methodist Council met from Feb. 8 - 10 in the offices of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity to discuss the content of the book "Harvesting the Fruits: Basic Aspects of Christian Faith in Ecumenical Dialogue," released in Oct. 2009.
Not only did the gathering provide an opportunity for the delegates to appreciate the "remarkable achievement" of the 40th anniversary commemorated by the book, but it also offered participants a forum to examine "the question of the reception of joint statements and agreements, the need for the common witness of Christians at every level and the changed context in which Christianity must undertake its mission."
In the course of the three days, the groups discussed parameters for future ecumenical dialogue and considered further actions to work towards the "goal of ecumenism, which remains full and visible communion," the Vatican reported.
Participating theologians, hosted by Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, revisited "traditional disagreements" as part of continuing attempts to resolve them. The representatives also contemplated approaches and proposals that might lead them to greater unity.
Delegates to the ecumenical sessions included both veteran and young theologians, who "expressed gratitude for the opportunity to discuss in depth the real challenges encountered in the search for Christian unity, and affirmed that the ability to call together meetings of this nature is a particular ability of Rome, indicating the wider service that the Petrine ministry can offer to ecumenism."
"Positive suggestions" introduced over the course of the symposium will be readdressed at the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in November 2010.