Baptists and Catholics focused on “Mary in the Communion of the Church” during the latest in a series of conversations between the Baptist World Alliance (BWA ) and the Catholic Church  held Dec. 14-20 at Duke Divinity School.
Members of the Catholic and Baptist teams delivered papers on the topic in the third round in the second series of discussions between the two groups hosted by the Baptist House of Studies under the leadership of Curtis W. Freeman , director of Baptist House and a research professor of theology. Freeman also served as a special guest on the Baptist team.
L. Gregory Jones,  dean of the Divinity School, welcomed the participants, and Professor Geoffrey Wainwright  spoke on insights from the current Catholic-Methodist conversations.
BWA and the Catholic Church held the first round in this latest series of conversations at Beeson Divinity School, Samford University, in Birmingham, Ala., in 2006. The second round was held in 2007 in Rome, Italy. The overall theme of this phase, from 2006-2010, is “The Word of God in the Life of the Church: Scripture, Tradition and Koinonia.” The first series of conversations took place from 1984-1988.
Bishop Arthur Serratelli of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Paterson, N.J., and the Rev. Dr. Paul Fiddes, professor of systematic theology at the University of Oxford in England, co-chair these conversations on behalf of the Catholic Church and BWA respectively.
Papers delivered on the topic of “Mary in the Communion of the Church” by the Catholic delegation during this latest series were “Mary in the Light of Scripture and the Early Church” by Dr. Krzysztof Mielcarek, of Poland; “Mary in the Light of Ongoing Tradition” by Sister Sara Butler, M.S.B.T., of the United States; “Mary and Contemporary Issues of Inculturation and Spirituality” by Dr. Peter Casarella, of the United States; and “Marian Issues in Feminism” by Dr. Teresa Francesca Rossi, of Italy.
Baptist papers delivered were a response paper by Dr. Elizabeth Newman to Mielcarek’s presentation; “Mary and Contemporary Issues of Inculturation and Spirituality” by Nora Lozano; and “Mary in the Light of Ongoing Tradition” by Dr. Timothy George. All three presenters from the Baptist team were from the United States.
The overall group will convene for its fourth round of these conversations in 2009 to study “Oversight and Primacy in the Ministry of the Church.”