NEWS – MEOR Statement on the Death of Pope Benedict XVI

The Methodist Ecumenical Office Rome extends its condolences to His Holiness Pope Francis and the Catholic Church on the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Pope Benedict’s life was marked by both prayer and action for Christian unity. A keen theological thinker, Pope Benedict will be remembered by Methodists for his encouragement of ecumenical theological dialogue, especially the international Methodist-Catholic dialogue. He welcomed the Methodist accession to the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine on Justification, telling World Methodist Council leaders prior to the 2006 Methodist Statement of Association to the JDDJ that “[joining the JDDJ] would assist in contributing to the healing and reconciliation we ardently desire, and would be a significant step towards the stated goal of full visible unity in faith” (Statement of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to the Representatives of the World Methodist Council, 9 December 2005).

The Rev. Matthew A. Laferty, director of the Methodist Ecumenical Office Rome, noted, “Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was a committed ecumenist who sought Christian unity through prayer and theological dialogue between Churches. He never shied away from candid conversation about serious church-dividing issues, while also encouraging further study and reflection between Methodists and Catholics in our joint pursuit for Christian unity.”

May Benedict rest in peace and rise in glory.

Photo: Pope Benedict XVI on 22 September 2011 by WDKrause @ CC BY-SA 3.0

Editor’s note: Statement updated on 01 January 2023 at 21:05

NEWS – WMC Geneva Secretary Extends New Year’s Greeting

Bishop Rosemarie Wenner, Geneva Secretary of the World Methodist Council, extends a new year’s greeting to Methodists around the world.

We have to take many hardships with us as we are facing multiple crises: wars and violent oppression all over the globe; an ongoing pandemic in several world regions and post-pandemic struggles in other places; food insecurity and hunger for millions of people; and foremost the climate crisis and the ongoing exploitation of mother earth, which is a main root cause for armed conflicts, hunger, and forced migration. What gives us hope? In Germany, where I live, an ecumenical working Group selects a watchword for any particular year. The watchword for 2023 is taken from Genesis 16:13. Hagar said: “You are the God who sees me.” Look at this painting done by the German artist Stefanie Bahlinger me.”

Hagar is crouching at the floor. She was in a crisis. She had been forced to become the biological mother of the far to long-expected offspring of Sarai and Abram. Hagar was Sarai’s slave. Hagar’s pregnancy caused troubles between her and Sarai. When Sarai decided to use her power, Hagar ran away straight into the desert. Here she is: Somewhere in the wilderness, alone, in disparity. Yet, in Stefanie Bahlinger’s painting, we don’t see Hagar in a dark environment. There is a bright ray of light over her. Hagar doesn’t seem to realize it. Yet she is seen. More so: Hagar, a sexually abused slave, and a refugee, is the first woman in the Bible to whom God speaks through an angel. Hagar is listened to, and she receives God’s promise: “I will multiply your offspring.” And her son shall be named Ismael – this means “God hears.” This did not end Hagar’s crisis. She had to go back to Sarai and Abram. But Hagar knew she was found by God. Like on Hagar, God has an eye on the oppressed and sees billions of people who are overlooked, misused, rejected, and kept in all kinds of precarious circumstances.

God is a God who sees. What a promise for 2023. And what a calling to recognize the image of God in the faces of others. We – the people called Methodists – live in very different places. Some are rich; many are poor. Some are powerful; many are struggling for dignity and basic human right to be kept. We are called to share God’s love with all, yet we are often caught up in unjust structures and are causing harm to one another instead of becoming agents of healing and hope. But God has not given us up. God sees us, hears us, speaks to us, becomes our friend in Jesus, and transforms us through the power of the Holy Spirit. We can stand up and become ambassadors of justice, peace, and reconciliation. The colors used in the painting of Stefanie Bahlinger remind us of the rainbow colors. God, who became human, is with us. Making space for God’s transforming grace, we begin our journey through 2023 with hope. Seen by God, we can sing with Charles Wesley:

Come, let us anew our journey pursue,
Roll round with the year,
And never stand still till the Master appear.
His adorable will let us gladly fulfill,
And our talents improve by the patience of hope and the labor of love.

NEWS – European Methodist Youth Climate Team Issues COP27 Statement


Following intense weeks of negotiations, protests, and actions COP27 had come to an end.

As Methodists, Wesleyan and Uniting Churches in Europe, we are calling on leaders and Head of States, to listen to our voices as young people.

The realities of global climate change, resulting from the impact of accumulated human activities, make the renewal of the way we inhabit the Earth an urgent imperative. The damage caused to the environment cannot be addressed justly, adequately, and sustainably without the implementation of climate justice policies.

The challenge of caring for the environment, our common heritage, is a collective and universal duty that belongs to all of humanity. For John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, God who created heaven and earth never abandoned his creation. God is the origin of all things and doesn’t only preserve them but also redeemed them all. The love of God doesn’t exclude a single form of life (John Wesley’s Sermon 67: On Divine Providence). The creation is the ultimate act of love, God is in all things and we must “see the Creator in the glass of every creature” (John Wesley’s Sermon 23 I. 11). As Methodists we can’t pursue a life of sanctification without care for the environment, for justice, for education, for inequality.

COP27 is over, we strongly urge our leaders to strengthen their commitments to a just recovery from the climate crisis. Time is running out, we need to act NOW.

We need to use this opportunity to seek equity and prioritise the need to equip those who are at the forefront of the crisis, so that no one is left behind in this journey towards achieving climate goals.

As Methodist young people from around Europe we know that we are in a position where we need to empower and sustain our brothers and sisters who are disproportionately affected by this crisis.

We call upon leaders and stakeholders to establish loss and damage as a permanent point on the negotiation agenda, and ensure the establishment of a dedicated loss and damage finance facility.

As people of faith, we cannot let this moment pass by without doing everything that we can to seek climate justice. We hear the lament of our global family and the fear of future generations, as we face a crisis that brings us all together in its urgency. We must act now, in collective hope that enough can be done to enable God’s creation to thrive once again. 

We pray that you would hear our voices and in turn, act with urgency and passion after COP27.

November 2022

European Methodist Youth Climate Team

Irene O. Abra – Methodist Church in Italy (OPCEMI)

Filipa Teixera – Methodist Church in Portugal

Daniel Steinvig – United Methodist Church in Denmark

Julia Sjöström – United Methodist Church in Sweden

Magdalena Gnigler – United Methodist Church in Austria

Sarah Bach – United Methodist Church in Switzerland

The European Methodist Youth Climate Team is part of the work of the European Methodist Council.

NEWS – Director’s Activities in November in Review

November was a busy month for Director Matthew A. Laferty.

The Director attended the North Central Jurisdictional Conference of The United Methodist Church, meeting 2-5 November 2022 in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.

He participated in a special meeting organized by the brothers of the Taize Community on the theme of synodality from 13-15 November in Taize, France.

From left to right – the Revd Dr Jonathan Hustler from the Methodist Church in Britain, Director Laferty, Brother Alois of the Taize Community, and Mr Eli Ataf of the Methodist Church in Britain

On 16 November, Director Matthew A. Laferty chaired a session of the academic conference “Roma (a)cattolica. Pluralisation of Religion in Rome between the End of the Papal State and the Beginning of Fascism (1870-1922)” sponsored by the German Historical Institute in Rome, Centro Melantone (Institute for Ecumenical Studies), the Waldensian Faculty of Theology, the Anglican Centre, and the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München.

The Forum – the MEOR oversight committee – met on 18-19 November in Rome. During the annual meeting, the Forum received the Director’s annual report, reviewed MEOR finances, and developed strategic plans for the future.

The MEOR staff and MEOR Forum members

The Director preached at Christ Church Lutheran in Rome for Eternity Sunday (Ewigkeitssonntag), 20 November 2022. The congregation remembers those who dead in the past year on the last Sunday before Advent, a German Protestant tradition dating back to 1816.

Rev. Laferty and Rev. Michael Jonas

The Director is a member of the national dialogue commission between the Methodist Church in Britain and the Roman Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of England & Wales and Scotland. The commission met in Crewe, United Kingdom, from 22-23 November 2022. The subject of the meeting was ordained ministry and authority. Director Laferty presented an overview of the recent report of the Methodist-Roman Catholic International Commission – God in Christ Reconciling: On the Way to Full Commission in Faith, Sacrament, and Mission.

Members of the British Methodist-Catholic Dialogue Commission meeting in Crewe

The Director attended a Solemn Mass for the Feast of St. Andrew at the Pontifical Scots College in Rome on 30 November 2022. Cardinal Arthur Roche preached and presided.

Cardinal Arthur Roche (center) preaching.

NEWS – Methodists, Catholics celebrate 55 years of ecumenical dialogue

by Christopher White
National Catholic Report
14 November 2022

When Pope Francis celebrated the 60th anniversary of the opening of Vatican II on Oct. 11, he paid tribute to the ways the council led to an opening of the Catholic Church’s relationships with other Christian churches.

But only one of those groups has been in official continuous dialogue with the Holy See since the council: the Methodists.

At the end of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI invited a number of churches to formal theological dialogue. In 1966, the worldwide communion of Methodist and Wesleyan churches were invited and they held their first formal meeting a year later.

“We received the invitation with great enthusiasm,” the Rev. Matthew Laferty, director of the Methodist Ecumenical Office in Rome, told NCR, recalling the response of the Methodists at the time. “And we’ve never taken a break in our work.”

Just before the 60th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, from Oct. 2-8, members of the Methodist-Roman Catholic International Commission, which is the official theological dialogue body between the World Methodist Council and the Holy See, met in Rome to begin a new cycle of dialogue under the theme “unity and mission.”

According to Laferty, co-secretary of the commission, the dialogues take place in five-year cycles under different themes and provide an occasion for a theological exploration of certain issues, and social and moral concerns “within the broader context of how our two churches might respond to those issues.”

During this year’s Rome gathering, the commission spent time hearing papers and discussing a range of topics, including synodality and each other’s understanding of the hierarchy of truths.

Bishop Shane Mackinlay of Sandhurst, Australia, co-chair of the commission, told NCR that while much ecumenical work, such as the recent meeting between Methodists and Catholics, may go unnoticed, it is essential for the shared goal of unity.

“Jesus established one church. And anything that we do that diminishes that unity takes us further away from that mission,” said Mackinlay.

On Oct. 5, Pope Francis received the members of the commission — who hail from Argentina, Australia, Canada, Malaysia, Nigeria, Philippines, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States — in a private audience, where they presented him with a copy of the report from their recently completed 11th round of dialogue.

The report, “God in Christ Reconciling: On the Way to Full Communion in Faith, Sacraments and Mission,” discusses the ways the two churches understand the work of reconciliation.

Mackinlay said that when Francis was presented a copy of the report, which uses the parable of the prodigal son, the pope noted that the father in the story has two sons and both Catholics and Methodists alike need to repent for their divisions in order to return to the father. 

“Ecumenism is not about one party returning because they’ve wandered off, while the other stayed home,” Macklinay said. “It’s about all the parties recognizing the ways in which each of us have moved away from the father’s house and need to recover.”

Fr. Anthony Currer, the commission’s outgoing Catholic co-secretary, told NCR that the report is the first ecumenical dialogue in the Catholic Church’s relationships with other Western churches that examines the question of sacramental reconciliation.

“We might think we were a long way apart but under closer examination some of that distance collapses and we find real convergence,” he said.

“Catholics can recognize that Methodists do celebrate liturgically the forgiveness Jesus made present among us, some in forms close to Catholic sacramental reconciliation, but all in forms that are based on what we know as the penitential rite at the beginning of Mass,” Currer said.

Mackinlay noted that the new report is not just inward looking, but also has a missional element focusing on the needed role of reconciliation in the world today.

It also includes a liturgical text for Methodists and Catholics to join together in a service for “renewing our commitment to reconciliation as churches.”

During the commission’s week in Rome, members also met with officials from the Vatican’s synod office, the department responsible for overseeing Pope Francis’ ongoing consultation process with the world’s Catholics.

Both Laferty and Mackinlay noted that synodality has a role to play in the work of ecumenism through listening to and integrating the perspectives of other Christian communions, as well as hopefully healing divides between churches.

“It is clear that Catholics need to continue to walk with and explore these questions learning from our ecumenical partners,” said Currer, referring to what he called a “receptive ecumenism.”

“We recognize that these Christian communities are used by God and have therefore been blessed and gifted by the Spirit,” he added. “What the Spirit has given to them needs to be received by us for our own ecclesial healing.”

Macklinay said that after 55 years of nonstop dialogue, the two communions are committed to the ongoing work of shared prayer, thoughtful listening and engagement  to continually ask “What can we learn from one another to bring us closer to being the church that Jesus wants us to be?”

Photo: Pope Francis accepts a report from Fr. Edgardo A. Colón-Emeric, the new Methodist co-chair of the Joint International Commission for Dialogue between the World Methodist Council and the Catholic Church, during an audience with members of the commission at the Vatican Oct. 5. Colón-Emeric is dean of Duke University Divinity School in Durham, N.C., USA (Vatican Media)

The story is reposted from National Catholic Report. The original story can be found on the NCR website.