Catholic Church has talks with Disciples of Christ in Rome

(Photo: Vatican Radio)Disciple of Christ theologian Rev. Newell Williams (L) with Wisconsin Roman Catholic Bishop David Ricken during talks about Christian unity on June 19, 2014.

A Disciples of Christ delegation is in Rome this week meeting with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the Catholic Church's main body promoting ecumenical relations.

This meeting is focused on the theme "Christians formed and transformed by the Eucharist," Vatican Radio reported Thursday.

The Disciples or Christian Church as they're often called grew at the start of the 19th century from the Protestant revival movement in the United States and England.

"We are certainly a Protestant communion but I think it's important to say we do not have any history of separation from the Catholic Church," the Disciples' co-chair of the Rome meeting, Rev. Newell Williams, told Vatican Radio.

"That means we enter the dialogue as one group of Christians seeking to understand another group of Christians."

The Disciples have 625,252 members in 3,627 congregations and it also has strong church groups in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Disciples of Christ describe themselves as a movement for unity, inclusion and wholeness in a fragmented world.

Williams said the year 1832 is the point at which the Stone-Campbell movement gave rise to the Disciples of Christ.

"We enter with that energy by which the Disciples began to be part of the fulfillment of Jesus' high priestly prayer that those who believe on the word of the Apostles might be one," he said.

Catholic Bishop David Ricken from the diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin, who is co-chairing the talks for the Catholic Church told Vatican Radio, " I've been deeply enriched by this association,"

"It is interesting, now with our new Pope emphasizing discipleship and the new evangelization, I think our Church can learn a lot from the Disciples of to form disciples and what it means to be a disciple in our world today"

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