An Address to the Bishop of Rome

Secretary of the Methodist Conference, the Revd Gareth J Powell,with other senior Methodist representatives from around the world,was received by Pope Francis in a private audience at the Vaticanlast week, on the morning of Thursday 7 April.

The audience was followed by a meeting with members of thePontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU).

During the audience the Revd Gareth Powell gave the followingpresentation to Pope Francis:

Your Holiness,  

We bring you the greetings of the Methodistpeople.  

It is a particular pleasure to greet you in the yearwhen the English speaking Methodist community, here in Rome,celebrates 60 years of worship and ministry at Ponte Sant' AngeloChurch.  

The work of that local church, and the ecumenicalcommitment of its ministers, has led to important exchanges ofinsights and wisdom as together we seek to proclaim the love ofGod.  

The dialogue between Methodists and Catholics continuesto enrich our understanding of each other and also ofourselves.  

That the formal dialogue takes place at an internationallevel is vital to our understanding of the breadth of God'screation. That churches in this City and in a whole variety oflocal communities give expression to our common faith in Christ isvital to our faithful search for deeperunity.  

We are grateful to you for the encouragement you givethat together we must strive to be one in faithfulness to Christand the mission of the Church.

Your Holiness's declaration of a Year of Mercy is one inwhich the Methodist people take a most particular interest. Theproclamation of the mercy of a loving God stands at the heart ofall that John Wesley, our founder, stood for. His brother Charlesexpressed it in one of his hymns;

Prepare the vessel of thy grace, Adorn me with the robesof praise,  And mercy shall be all my song; Mercy for all whoknow not God, Mercy for all in Jesu's blood, Mercy, that earth andheaven transcends; Love that overwhelms the saints in light...  [584, Methodist Hymn Book]

We are grateful to your Holiness for offering us freshunderstandings of the Mercy of God. Your call to a renewedunderstanding of God's mercy is one that must surely findexpression in our common endeavours and in the way that we live outour mission and shape our ecclesial communities.

In this gift of a copy of the Hymns on the Lord's Supperby John and Charles Wesley you will find something of the Methodistemphasis on the depth of God's lovingpurposes.  

We pray that together we may find a deeper sense of ourshared calling. Through our sharing in the celebration of thevictory of love over death may we have a more dynamic and urgentsense of our mission.   In these hymns and in all that wedo as followers of the risen Christ, let us raise our voices in theproclamation of our common gospel and the offer ofmercy.


Thursday's events followed a dedication of the new MethodistEcumenical Office of Rome (MEOR) held at Ponte Sant'Angelo.

The MEOR initiative is aimed at promoting greater understandingof the worldwide communion through education programmes and thewelcome it can offer from its location just across the Tiber fromSt Peter's Basilica.

The Revd Dr Tim Macquiban, Director of MEOR, said: "We ask allto hold the ecumenical work of the office in your prayers at thisimportant stage of its development.

"This initiative gives Methodists worldwide the opportunity tocontribute in a continuing ecumenical dialogue, promotingecumenical understanding through the likes of educationalprogrammes."


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(Mrs Gillian Kingston, Vice President of the World MethodistCouncil, Bishop Paulo Lockmann, President of the World MethodistCouncil and the Revd Gareth Powell, Secretary of the MethodistConference in Britain at the Vatican, giving and receiving gifts atthe Vatican.)



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