Friday, September 29, 2017

On Oct. 19, Assistant Professor of Christian Theology Edgardo Colón-Emeric is scheduled to have an audience with Pope Francis as part of a delegation from the Methodist-Catholic Dialogue. The Methodist delegation will present the pope with a Spanish translation Colón-Emeric was asked to create of the dialogue’s latest bilateral statement.

The Methodist-Catholic Dialogue was established in 1967 and meets on a five-year cycle with meetings over the first four years and the presentation of a statement in the fifth year. Each round of the dialogue has a theme, which frames an exploration of historically divisive issues in Christian doctrine in order to find points of convergence between the two traditions and areas where more dialogue in necessary.

This last cycle’s theme was “The Call to Holiness: From Glory to Glory,” and the bilateral statement addressed questions such as how grace enables holiness and what practices support holy living in each tradition. View the statement (pdf). 

“In this document we explore how we understand the work of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives,” said Colón-Emeric. “We also talk about areas where there may be questions and differences, such as the rosary.”

Colón-Emeric’s Spanish translation of the statement will be one of the few ecumenical documents translated into Spanish and the first from the Methodist-Catholic Dialogue.

“This can be a resource for teaching students about theology,” he said. “In general, in Latin America, ecumenical relations are rarer than in other places such as the U.S. or Europe. So to produce a document in Spanish is a contribution to ecumenical work in the region and encouragement to reach out and engage in conversation.”

The World Methodist Council and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity decide on the membership of the dialogue, which includes professional theologians, ministers, and church leaders from around the world. Colón-Emeric has been a member of the dialogue since 2008.

The meeting with Pope Francis is a part of a long tradition of ecumenical dialogue at Duke Divinity School. Robert Earl Cushman, former dean of Duke Divinity School and professor of systematic theology, served as the official Methodist observer at the Second Vatican Council. Geoffrey Wainwright, Robert Earl Cushman Professor Emeritus of Christian Theology, met with Pope Benedict XVI on a number of occasions in his capacity as Methodist co-chair of the Methodist-Catholic Dialogue from 1986-2011. In addition, Curtis Freeman is currently chair of the Baptist delegation of a five-year international dialogue between the Baptist World Alliance and the World Methodist Council.