VATICAN CITY, JAN. 23, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Despite difficulties with the Anglican and Methodist confessions, ecumenical dialogue forges ahead with them as well, confirmed a Vatican aide.
Monsignor Mark Langham, an official at the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in the section that deals with Anglicans and Methodists, affirmed this to L’Osservatore Romano. The Vatican daily is doing a series of articles on the advance of ecumenism, in light of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which ends Sunday.
The monsignor said that 2008 was an important year for dialogue, given that informal contacts were established with leaders of both confessions.
In work with the Anglicans, he said he considered it very significant that a Catholic delegation, headed by Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Vatican’s unity council, attended the Lambeth Conference in late July. That once-a-decade conference was marked by conflict within the Anglican Communion this year, over debates about the episcopal ordination of women and the ministry of homosexuals.
At the conference, Monsignor Langham said, the cardinal “could speak frankly about the harmful impact” of these situations on ecumenical dialogue.
Though resolutions might not have been adopted, the monsignor continued, this frankness was important in regard to informal talks during the year, particularly through the Anglican Center of Rome. Reaching unity and integrity within Anglican doctrine will be the fundamental point for a reactivation of official dialogue, he added.
And regarding the Methodists, Monsignor Langham pointed to “cordial meetings” throughout the year, particularly one in Dublin between Reverend Geoffrey Wainwright and Bishop Michael Putney of Townsville, Australia.
In that meeting, the Christian leaders approved a joint statement, “Together in Holiness,” which reviews the steps made in 40 years of Methodist-Catholic dialogue. Despite great differences in regard to doctrine, both parties prepared a new stage, which will be marked by a joint document to be presented at the World Methodist Conference in Australia in 2011.