By Jesús Colina
VATICAN CITY, DEC. 6, 2007 (Zenit.org).- For dialogue between Baptists and Catholics to move forward, points of disagreement must be confronted in a spirit of openness, respect and fidelity to the truth of Christ, says Benedict XVI.
The Pope said this today upon receiving in audience a delegation of the joint international commission sponsored by the Baptist World Alliance and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, meeting in Rome through Saturday.
The talks constitute the second round in the second series of conversations between the Baptist World Alliance and the Vatican. The theme of the meeting is “The Word of God in the Life of the Church: Scripture, Tradition and Koinonia.”
The first series of talks took place between 1984 and 1988. The current series, which began in December 2006 in Birmingham, Alabama, will continue through 2010.
Benedict XVI said: “It is my hope that your conversations will bear abundant fruit for the progress of dialogue and the increase of understanding and cooperation between Catholics and Baptists.”
According to the Pope, this point “offers a promising context for the examination of such historically controversial issues as the relationship between Scripture and Tradition, the understanding of baptism and the sacraments, the place of Mary in the communion of the Church, and the nature of oversight and primacy in the Church’s ministerial structure.”
In order to move forward in reconciliation and fraternity between Baptists and Catholics, the Pontiff said “issues such as these need to be faced together, in a spirit of openness, mutual respect and fidelity to the liberating truth and saving power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
“Today, as ever, the world needs our common witness to Christ and to the hope brought by the Gospel,” assured the Bishop of Rome.
Quoting the Second Vatican Council, Benedict XVI said “the lack of unity between Christians ‘openly contradicts the will of Christ, provides a stumbling block to the world, and harms the most holy cause of proclaiming the good news to every creature.'”
The Baptist World Alliance is a fellowship of 214 Baptist conventions and unions comprising a membership of 36 million baptized believers and a community of 105 million.