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Monday, 10 October 2022 21:17

Methodist - Roman Catholic International Commission Meets in Rome

Wearing his hat as Catholic Co-Chair of the Methodist-Roman Catholic International Commission (MERCIC), Bishop Shane and fellow MERCIC members met in Rome for a week of dialogue. At the end of the week, they met with Pope Francis to present the quinquennial report for the 11th round of 5-year dialogue: “God Reconciling in Christ: On the Way to Full Communion in Faith, Sacraments and Mission.” 
 
Pope Francis, Bishop Shane introduced the focus of the 12th dialogue which will continue for the next five years.  
 
Our focus in this round of dialogue is on models of unity in belief and mission.  Encouraged by the World Methodist Council’s concern to promote mission, and inspired by your own emphasis on the call to each of the baptised to live as missionary disciples, we are exploring the structures and processes of faith and communion that enable and support the flourishing of the Church’s mission.  In reflecting on these structures in our ancient shared tradition, we are very mindful of the forthcoming 1700th anniversary of the Council of Nicaea.  At the same time, in the more recent practices of our particular traditions, we are reflecting on the theological significance of the synodal path on which you are leading the Catholic Church, and of the various conferencing processes that are so well established in the Methodist Churches for shared discernment and decision making."
 
MERCIC 1
There have been 11 dialogues since MERCIC was established in 1967.  In 2017, acknowledging the work of MERCIC on its 50th anniversary, Pope Francis said,  “After fifty years of patient dialogue we are no longer strangers, but rather, through our shared Baptism, members of the  household of God”.  Pope Francis continued, "True dialogue, gives us courage to encounter one another in humility and sincerity as we seek to learn from each other. We cannot grow in holiness without growing in communion.”
Addressing MERCIC Members, Pope Francis said, “ … may your discussions be a gift for Christians everywhere to become ministers of reconciliation. Let us prepare ourselves with humble hope and concrete efforts for that full recognition which will enable us to join one another in the breaking of bread together.”
 
The Commission has 16 members, 8 Methodist members and 8 Catholic members who meet in person each year. Three of the current members are Australian: Bishop Shane, Fr Gerard Kelly (Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney), Rev. Glen O'Brien (Uniting Church in Australia, which is an ongoing member of the World Methodist Council). Every five years, the commission selects a theme for its 5-year cycle of dialogue and produces a theological report as fruit of this dialogue.  
 
 
 
 MERCIC 5