The international dialogue between the main Baptist organization in the world and the Catholic Church reached a new stage on December 16 after four days of exchanges devoted to the finalization of a report on Christian witness. Since 1984, the representations of the two denominations have been engaged in a dialogue regarding this witness in the Church and in society.
It was in Rome that was held the fifth session of the third phase of the dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Baptist World Alliance. It was welcomed by the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, a pontifical council created in the logic of Vatican II with a view to ecumenical dialogue.
Pope Francis and the secretary general of the Protestant organization, Elijah Brown, participated in this last step. The Exchange Commission is co-chaired by Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli, Bishop Emeritus of Paterson and Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, and Dr. Elizabeth Newman, who heads the Doctrine Commission. Baptist and Christian Unity Alliance. The French evangelical Protestant theologian, vice-president of the Protestant Federation of France (FPF), Valérie Duval-Poujol was also present.
The International Dialogue between the two traditions aims to “achieve mutual understanding and clarify theological issues and identify opportunities for cooperation.” This third phase focused on "The Dynamics of the Gospel and the Witness of the Church Today", and the session in Rome was dedicated to writing the report of the dialogue, planning how it would be Understood. Participants also discussed possible directions for a fourth phase of the dialogue.
The days began and ended with prayer, then the pope received the dialogue commission in a private audience on December 14 to discuss in particular the concern of the two communities for the poorest and the development of relations between them. The President of the Baptist World Alliance, Rev. Tomás Mackey, spoke of the importance of increasing mutual recognition in order to offer ever more common witness in society.
This Phase III commission held its first meeting in 2017 in Waco, Texas, to discuss “sources of common witness.” Its second session, in Rome in 2018, focused on the theme of “Contexts of a common witness”. The third meeting took place the following year in the Polish capital, Warsaw, and focused on “the challenges of common witness”. Remote meetings had taken place in 2021 on the theme of “forms of common witness”.
A dialogue of several decades and with various Churches
This series of dialogues began almost 40 years ago, with a first phase which recalled that since the Second Vatican Council, Catholics and Baptists had engaged in dialogue at different levels.
Begun in 1984 and completed four years later, Phase I was an "invitation to bear witness to Christ in today's world" and had notably tackled questions of Christology and evangelization. The second phase took place over the period 2006-2010 and focused on the theme of "the word of God in the life of the Church". She had seen the possibilities of developing a common witness and of collaborating ever more on ethical questions.
The Catholic Church is committed to an ecumenical dialogue with the different Christian denominations Eastern and Western, while so is the Baptist World Alliance with different churches such as Methodist, Anglican or Lutheran.