the past twenty years, successive Joint Commissions between the
Roman Catholic Church and the World Methodist Council have reported
to their respective churches at five-year intervals through the
Vatican Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity and the World
Methodist Council. A significant body of material has been considered
by Methodists and Roman Catholics meeting annually since the commencement
of these bilateral discussions in 1967.
The first report issued by a joint commission
was known as The Denver Report (so named for the city where the
World Methodist Council met in 1971). Covering the period 1967-1970,
the report addressed the following subjects: Christianity and the
contemporary world, spirituality, Christian home and family, eucharist,
ministry and authority.
As will be readily understood, some of these areas
were only examined in a cursory way and were taken up by The Dublin
Report (1972-1975). Taking the Denver document as a point of departure,
the Commission advanced joint exploration in the areas of spirituality
and some moral issues, while pressing on to consider in greater
depth the doctrines of the eucharist and the ordained ministry.
During the next quinquennium, a significant agreed
statement on The Holy Spirit was issued in The Honolulu Report (1977-1981).
This was written in a more popular style. It was during this time
that another change was introduced the periodic publication of parts
of the report, for study and comment, as they were developed in
the course of the five years. Sections on Christian experience and
Christian moral decisions covered new ground and discussions begun
on authority were reported as requiring fuller development.
The text of The Nairobi Report, which follows,
represents the work of the present 1982-1985 Joint Commission, which
met on four occasions. The first session at Reuti-Hasliberg, Switzerland
in 1982 established The Nature of the Church as the theme for the
quinquennium. Building upon a careful outline, preparations were
made for research and the writing of papers to explore the various
sub-themes. Subsequent meetings in Milan, Lake Junaluska, and Venice
explored the nature of the Church, sacraments, episcopacy and "ways
of being one Church", Peter in the New Testament and the Petrine
ministry; and authority in the Church, under the heads of jurisdiction
and the teaching office. In the light of the work done at the final
meeting in Venice, a proposal at the conclusion of the text suggests
that the next Commission proceed to address the general theme of
The Apostolic Tradition.
In Venice tribute was paid to the late Monsignor
Richard Stewart for his faithful and effective service as the Roman
Catholic co-secretary of the Commission for the past seven years.
Monsignor Stewart died unexpectedly at age 58 in July of 1985, while
on holiday in England. He was for seven years a member of the Vatican
Secretariat. The Joint Commission, recognizing his theological acumen,
his careful concern for every detail of the work, his boundless
energy and profound commitment to the cause of Christian unity,
wishes to dedicate this report to him.
The Nairobi Report deals with some of the most
difficult questions Roman Catholics and Methodists have faced together.
Although there are similarities in the order and structure of the
two churches, Methodists and Catholics at present differ in their
doctrine of the ministry and of the teaching office. The Commission
has started to address these divergences, exploring their origins
in history and seeking perspectives for agreement. It has reaffirmed
those things already held in common with regard to the role of leadership
in the Church and the quest for Christian unity.
We now make this report available in the hope
that it will stimulate wide study, discussion and reactions among
both Catholics and Methodists. Such discussion and reaction at this
stage of our dialogue will be invaluable for our continued progress
on the path towards that fulness of fellowship and communion which
is our aim and objective.
WILLIAM R. CANNON
J. FRANCIS STAFFORD
in the Dialogue
Bishop William R. CANNON, Atlanta,
GA, USA, Chairman, World Methodist Council (Co-Chairman).
Sister Cynthia A. CLARE, United Theological College of the West
Indies, Kingston, Jamaica.
Rev. Dr Ira GALLAWAY, First United Methodist Church, Peoria,
Rev. A. Raymond GEORGE, Bristol, England.
Dr Thomas HOYT, Hartford Seminary, Hartford, CT, USA (1982 meeting).
Rev. Professor Geoffrey WAINWRIGHT, Duke University, Durham,
Rev. Professor Norman YOUNG, Queen's College, Melbourne, Australia.
Rev. Dr Joe HALE, General Secretary of the World Methodist Council
Bishop Michael Bowen, Arundel
& Brighton, England
Mons. C. Moeller, Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity
Most Rev. J. Francis STAFFORD, Bishop of Memphis, USA (Co-Chairman).
Rt. Rev. Peter CULLINANE, Bishop of Palmerston North, New Zealand.
Most Rev. John ONAIYEKAN, Bishop of Ilorin, Nigeria.
Rev. Professor Raymond E. BROWN, Union Theological Seminary,
New York, USA.
Rev. Basil MEEKING, Under-Secretary, Secretariat for Promoting
Christian Unity (1985 meeting).
Rev. Dr Cuthbert RAND, Ushaw College, Durham, England.
Rev. George TAVARD, A.A., Methodist Theological School, Delaware,
Very Rev. Mgr Richard STEWART, Secretariat for Promoting Christian
Unity (Secretary 1982-1984).
Rev. Kevin MCDONALD, Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity