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Bishop Burbidge Comments on Latest Catholic-Pentecostal Dialogue

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CATHOLICS AND PENTECOSTALS: SIXTH  ROUND OF CONVERSATIONS

Helsinki (Finland), 28 June-5 July 2012 

The International Dialogue between the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and Some Classical Pentecostal Churches and leaders held its 2nd session of the Sixth phase in Helsinki (Finland), from 28 June till 5 July 2012. The general theme for this round is “Charisms in the Church: Their Spiritual Significance, Discernment, and Pastoral Implications”.

The dialogue started in 1972 and is not seeking to establish structural unity. Its goal 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 the guiding practice of the conversations, which include daily joint prayer services that were led alternatively.

Catholic Co-Chair of the Dialogue is the Most Reverend Michael Burbidge, Bishop of Raleigh, NC, USA. This year, Rev. David Cole, Briercrest College and Seminary, Sasketchewan, Canada (Open Bible Churches) has served as Pentecostal Co-Chair since Rev. Cecil M. Robeck, Fuller Theological Seminary,  Los Angeles, USA, (Assemblies of God) was unable to take part in the meeting.

The topic of this second session of the Sixth phase was “Charisms in the Church: Discernment”.  Reverend Father Ján Dacok, SJ (Slovak Republic), Pontifical Gregorian University (Rome, Italy), presented the paper “Discernment: A Catholic Perspective”. Reverend Dr. Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen (Finland), Fuller Theological Seminary, Los Angeles, USA, presented the paper “Pentecostal Practice and Theology of Discernment: An Interim Report”. In the agenda remains two more topics: Healing (2013) and Prophecy (2014). It is expected that the Final Report will be ready by 2015.

This year’s session was hosted by the Pentecostal team. The participants were very pleased to attend the Sunday worship at the Helsinki Saalem Church, the largest Pentecostal congregation in Finland. They were also pleased to meet Rev. Pekka Havupalo, Chairperson of the National Board of the Pentecostal Church of Finland (and Senior Pastor of Turku Pentecostal Church) and Rev. Esko Matikainen, General Secretary of the Pentecostal Church of Finland (and Pastor at the Helsinki Saleem Church), as well as Rev. Father Raimo Goyarola, General Vicar of the Catholic Diocese of Finland, and Monsignor Marino Trevisini of Saint Henry's Cathedral Parish in Helsinki.

Bishop Burbidge stated: “The dialogue allowed for fruitful discussion on the theology of discernment from Catholic and Pentecostal perspectives. Both groups benefited from the biblical resources, scholarly research, spiritual insights and pastoral applications that were presented. There was a spirit of collegiality and mutual respect that typically characterize our gatherings and for which both groups are most grateful”. According to Rev Cole: “Our Dialogue enjoyed the beautiful city of Helsinki, including the hospitality of local members of the Pentecostal Church of Finland.  They enjoyed worship in the Saalem Church, and a dinner and time of prayers with local Catholic and Pentecostal leaders. Pentecostals greatly appreciated the opportunity to grow in their understanding of discernment as they studied biblical, historical and pastoral perspectives on the subject. In an atmosphere of mutual respect and collegiality they are grateful to God for their fruitful exchange”.

Other delegates from the Classical Pentecostal churches included:  Rev. S. David Moore, (Associate Professor of Theology, Life Pacific College, CA, USA), (International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, USA) and Rev. Opoku Onyinah, Chairman of the Church of Pentecost (Ghana). 

Other delegates from the Catholic team included: Sr. Maria Ko, F.M.A. (Holy Spirit Seminary, Hong Kong, China/ Pontifical Faculty Auxilium, Rome); Prof. Dr. Teresa Francesca Rossi (Centro Pro Unione/ Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Rome); Rev. Fr. Marcial Maçaneiro SCJ, Dehonian Faculty (Sao Paulo, Brazil) and Mgr. Juan Usma Gómez (Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Vatican City/ Colombia), who serves as Co-Secretary.