The Third Session of the Sixth Phase of the Catholic/Pentecostal International Dialogue took place in Baltimore, MD, July 13-19, 2013. The Dialogue is between the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and some Classical Pentecostal churches and leaders.
The general theme for the present phase of Dialogue is “Charisms in the Church: Their Spiritual Significance, Discernment, and Pastoral Implications.” The topics discussed at the past two sessions were Charisms - Our Common Ground (2011) and Discernment (2012). The topic for this year’s session (2013) is Healing.
Begun in 1972, the Dialogue does not seek to establish structural unity. Its goal, rather, is to promote mutual respect and understanding in matters of faith and practice. Genuine exchange and frank dialogue concerning the positions and practices of the two traditions have been guiding principles of the conversations, which include daily prayer services that are led alternatively by Catholics and Pentecostals.
The Pentecostal Co-Chair of the Dialogue is Rev. Cecil M. Robeck, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA, (Assemblies of God). The Catholic Co-Chair of the Dialogue is the Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge, Bishop of Raleigh, NC.
During the third session, Rev. Opoku Onyinah, Chairman of the Church of Pentecost (Ghana) presented the paper “Healing: A Pentecostal Perspective,” and Dr. Mary Healy, Associate Professor at Sacred Heart Major Seminary Detroit, MI, presented the paper “A Catholic Perspective on Healing.” According to the agreed agenda, the Dialogue expects to devote the 2014 session to “Prophecy.” The 2015 session is dedicated to writing the Final Report.
The members of the Dialogue were pleased to meet in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the first Catholic Diocese in the United States, established in 1789. The participants attended Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary with the Most Reverend William E. Lori, Archbishop of Baltimore, Principal Celebrant; Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, principal concelebrant and homilist; Bishop Denis Madden, Auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore and chairman of the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), also a principal concelebrant.
After the Sunday Mass, the members of the Dialogue met with Archbishop Lori and toured the Cathedral, an impressively beautiful and spiritual space, described by Pope John Paul II as “a worldwide symbol of religious freedom.”
Rev. Robeck noted, "Healing is a subject on which Catholics and Pentecostals have much in common. While many people may view the healing ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ with skepticism, or dismiss it altogether, Catholics and Pentecostals believe that God continues to heal and perform miracles. As a result, Catholics and Pentecostals affirm together that ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever’ (Hebrews 13: 8). With such common ground, we are optimistic that we will be able to produce a document that will prove to be useful within our communities."
According to Bishop Burbidge, “This year’s Dialogue has provided a wonderful opportunity for members of the Catholic and Pentecostal teams to renew our common faith in the healing power of Jesus, the One who continues to demonstrate His love and miracles in our midst. The Dialogue has helped us to focus on how the charism of healing is understood, expressed and celebrated in our churches and faith communities. We have acknowledged that our theological understanding of the charism of healing requires further exploration. In addition, we noted that the context and supervision of healing ministries within our churches and faith communities will also benefit from further study and discussion. The Dialogue benefitted greatly from the expertise and wisdom of the participants. Our conversations were carried out with great respect and were always rooted in prayer, asking the Lord to bring the completion the work we have carried out in His name.”
The members from the Classical Pentecostal churches are: Rev. Cecil M. Robeck, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA, (Assemblies of God), Co-Chair; Rev. David Cole, Liaison to the Greater Christian Community Pentecostal/Charismatic Churches of North America, Vice President for Student Development and Pastoral Care, Briercrest College and Seminary, Canada (Open Bible Churches), Co-Secretary; Rev. S. David Moore, Incoming M.G. “Pat” Robertson Professor, The King’s University, Van Nuys, CA, (International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, USA); and Rev. Opoku Onyinah, Chairman of the Church of Pentecost, Ghana. Mr. Jelle Creemers, Th.M. at Evangelische Theologische Faculteit, Leuven, Belgium, attended as an observer.
The members of the Catholic team are: Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge, Bishop of Raleigh NC, Co-Chair; Rev. Msgr. Juan Usma Gómez, Bureau Chief of Western Section, Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Vatican City/Colombia, Co-Secretary; Dr. Mary Healy, Associate Professor at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit, MI; Rev. Lawrence Iwuamadi, Catholic Professor, Ecumenical Institute of Bossey, Switzerland/Nigeria; Sr. Maria Ko, F.M.A., Professor, Pontifical Faculty Auxilium, Rome and Holy Spirit Seminary, Hong Kong, China; Rev. Marcial Maçaneiro SCJ, Professor, Pontifical University of São Paulo and Dehonian Faculty, Brazil; and Dr. Teresa Francesca Rossi, Associate Director, Centro Pro Unione and Professor, Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Rome, Italy.
Above: Bishop Michael F. Burbidge and Rev. Cecil M. Robeck, to Bishop’s left, talking with people following Mass July 14 at the Cathedral Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption in Baltimore.
Above: Bishop Burbidge and Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore during celebration of Mass to begin 2013 Catholic-Pentecostal international Dialogue.
Above: Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, Archbishop William E. Lori and Auxiliary Bishop Dennis Madden with members of the Catholic-Pentecostal International Dialogue.