Pope to Methodists: Reconciliation Needs Action
‘We cannot speak of prayer and charity unless together we pray and work for reconciliation and full communion,’ the Pope said Oct. 19.
VATICAN CITY — Marking 50 years of Catholic-Methodist dialogue, Pope Francis on Thursday told members of both traditions that when it comes to future relations, simply speaking about reconciliation is not enough: We must actually pray and work for it.
“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,” the Pope said Oct. 19.
Pope Francis met with a delegation of around 50 members of the World Methodist Council on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the beginning of theological dialogue between Catholics and Methodists.
In his address, Francis said that, when looking toward the future, as well as back over the last 50 years, it is clear that to grow in holiness we must also grow in communion with God and with our brothers and sisters.
“As a call to life in communion with God, the call to holiness is necessarily a call to communion with others, too,” he said. “Faith becomes tangible above all when it takes concrete form in love, particularly in service to the poor and the marginalized.”
And this service to others, he pointed out, can be a source of communion between Catholics and Methodists.
“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,” he said.
Discussions between the two churches can be a gift not just for their members, but also for our communities and our world, he noted, pointing out that the discussion could be an incentive to Christians everywhere to be “ministers of reconciliation.”
He explained how it is the Holy Spirit that brings about unity, and this is always done in his own way and his own time, just like at Pentecost, where the Spirit awakened “a variety of charisms,” creating unity without uniformity.
“We need, then, to remain together,” he said, “like the disciples awaiting the Spirit, as brothers and sisters on a shared journey.”
Francis said that after a long separation, we are like brothers and sisters who are happy to once more meet and learn about one another, moving 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.”
As encouraged by the Second Vatican Council, dialogue enables Christians of different creeds to continue growing in knowledge and esteem, the Pope continued, saying that “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.”
Francis expressed his gratitude to the Catholic-Methodist Dialogue Commission and to the World Methodist Council for their work, both past and present.
A lot has been learned over the past 50 years, but the work is not finished, he said, saying we must look forward to that day when we can finally unite in the “breaking of the bread.”
Concluding the audience by praying the Our Father, the Pope invited those present to pray for reconciliation as well as the daily bread that sustains us “along the way.”