Francis expressed his desire to continue the path of rapprochement to a delegation of the Methodist World Council on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the start of the Methodist-Catholic theological dialogue. For him, “As we look to the future, beyond the past fifty years, one thing is certain: we cannot grow in holiness without growing in communion.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis met with leaders of the World Methodist Council on Thursday, marking fifty years of the Catholic-Methodist dialogue and the rapprochement between Catholics and Methodists.
During his address, the Holy Father said that Christians cannot grow in holiness without growing in communion, noting that as siblings long separated, they can learn about each other and advance with an open heart. Indeed, after fifty years, “we too have been freed from the slavery of estrangement and mutual suspicion.”
“We have come to this realization as the result of dialogue. The Second Vatican Council continues to encourage the growth of knowledge and esteem between Christians of differing confessions by means of a dialogue carried out “with love for the truth, with charity, and with humility” (Unitatis Redintegratio, 11). True dialogue gives us the courage to encounter one another in humility and sincerity, in an effort to learn from one another, and in a spirit of honesty and integrity. We are brothers and sisters who, following a long separation, are happy once more to see and learn about one another, and to move forward with open hearts. So let us advance together, knowing that our journey is blessed by the Lord. It began from him, and it leads to him.”
“[O]ther ‘members of God’s household’ can also help us grow closer to the Lord,” said the pope, citing the call to holiness of John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, “and spur us to bear more faithful witness to the Gospel.”
“Faith becomes tangible above all when it takes concrete form in love, particularly in service to the poor and the marginalized. [. . .] When, as Catholics and Methodists, we join in assisting and comforting the weak and the marginalized – those who in the midst of our societies feel distant, foreign and alienated – we are responding to the Lord’s summons.”
“As we look to the future, beyond the past fifty years, one thing is certain: we cannot grow in holiness without growing in communion. This is the journey that awaits us in the new phase of the dialogue, devoted to reconciliation. We cannot speak of prayer and charity unless together we pray and work for reconciliation and full communion. May your discussions about reconciliation be a gift, and not only for our communities but for the world. May they be an incentive to Christians everywhere to be ministers of reconciliation. The Spirit of God brings about the miracle of reconciled unity. He does so in his own way, even as he did at Pentecost, awakening a variety of charisms and ordering everything in a unity that is not uniformity but a communion. We need, then, to remain together, like the disciples awaiting the Spirit, and as brothers and sisters on a shared journey.”