Reformed, Catholic scholars conclude latest talks on key doctrine

Reformed and Catholic theologians recently concluded the latest in a decades-long series of ongoing international talks on a matter theologians see as central to the disputes of the Reformation era.

Theologians from the World Communion of Reformed Churches and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity met from April 7-13 at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, U.S.A. as part of the third session in the fourth Catholic-Reformed dialogue which will conclude in 2017.

The theme of the phase is "Justification and Sacramentality: The Christian Community as an Agent for Justice." The talks began in 1970.

The next meeting in the series will take place in Scotland. The themes to be covered are Justification: Holy Communion/Eucharist and Justice" and "Justification and Justice: Sanctification/ Universal Call to Holiness."

The ongoing dialogue could eventually determine if the World Communion of Reformed Churches aligns itself with a joint document on the doctrine of justification agreed to by Roman Catholics and a top Lutheran body in 1999.

At this week's meetings, theologians discussed two sets of papers from each group's perspectives.

"WCRC and the PCPCU hope that this round of conversations will build on what previous phases have already achieved, including a mutual recognition of the church as "creation of the word of God" (emphasized by the Reformed) and of the church as "sacrament of grace" (emphasized by the Catholics)," the WCRC said in a statement.

Theologian Reinero Arce-Valentin of the WCRC, presented a paper entitled "Justification and Sanctification in the Reformed Tradition."

A paper by Prof. Annemarie Mayer of Freiburg University and the PCPCU was presented by another participant in her absence. The document was entitled "Justification and Sanctification: A Catholic response."

The talks are meant to discern whether the WCRC should affiliate with the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. The document was signed by the Lutheran World Federation and the PCPCU on October 31, 1999 in Augusburg, Germany after 30 years of talks.

In 2006 the World Methodist Council affiliated itself with the document.

Participants to the latest meeting are listed below:

Reformed participants included Reinerio Arce-Valentín (Cuba); Marina Ngursangzeli Behera (India); Christopher Dorn (USA); George Hunsinger (USA); George Sabra (Lebanon); and Lindsay Schlüter (Scotland). Benebo Fubara-Manuel (Nigeria) was unable to attend.

Catholic were represented by Peter Casarella (USA), Peter De Mey (Belgium),William Henn, OFM cap. (USA/Italy) and Jorge Scampini, O.P. (Argentina). Annemarie Mayer (Germany) was unable to attend.

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