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PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN UNITY

MESSAGE FROM THE WORLD METHODIST COUNCIL
TO POPE BENEDICT XVI
DELIVERED BY HIS EMINENCE SUNDAY MBANG,
CHAIRPERSON OF THE WORLD METHODIST COUNCIL

9 December 2005

Your Holiness,

We are honored to be here today on behalf of the World Methodist Council, and we thank you for granting us the privilege of this time together. We bring to you warm and respectful greetings from our member churches, and from Methodists everywhere.

We were pleased to learn of your election as the Bishop of Rome, and we were represented at your inauguration. We heard your homily at the funeral of Pope John Paul II and we knew thereby of your engagement to follow in the footsteps of your predecessor. We were delighted to hear of your affirmation to maintain the ecumenical commitment of the Catholic Church.

It has been an honor for us to take part in various occasions that have marked the 40th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, and to celebrate with your Church the achievements of that Council, one of which was the Decree on Ecumenism and the invitation to other Christian Churches to take part in serious dialogue with the Catholic Church.

The World Methodist Council was one of the first bodies to accept the invitation to enter into dialogue. This followed naturally from the presence of Methodist observers at the Second Vatican Council.

Our Dialogue has cultivated the development of friendly relations between the Methodists and Catholics as we have come to know each other better. Many prejudices have been removed. We know that your predecessor, when he was Archbishop of Krakow, enjoyed a personal friendship with the Methodist pastor in that city. Such relationships that are both human and Christian are an important part in our growth together towards the full visible unity of Christ’s Church.

In the Dialogue we have engaged substantially in the exchange of ideas: we have reached significant theological convergence on such fundamental themes as revelation, faith, scripture and tradition. While aware that there are still doctrinal matters to be settled between us, we wish now to consolidate these interim achievements.

On this basis, we are now moving towards the exchange of gifts. As Methodists we know that we have much to learn and accept from the Catholic Church and we believe and hope that we also have a contribution to make towards the fullness of catholicity in the one Church of Jesus Christ.

Six years ago we congratulated the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church on your Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. In the intervening years we have been working at a process by which the Methodists around the world can become associated with this agreement which helps to heal the rupture in the western church since the 16th century. We are expecting at our next World Methodist Council meeting in Seoul, Korea in July 2006, to be able to sign an agreement whereby all three parties will declare and demonstrate their agreement on this doctrine that was crucial and which remains crucial to our preaching and teaching of the gospel.

We pray, Holy Father, that you will continue to be blessed by the Spirit of God in the heavy responsibilities of your own ministry, and you may be assured that the Methodist people around the world pray in this way for you.

Information Service 120 (2005/IV), p.164.

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