Venice, 23 - 30 July 1999


The second year of the fifth phase of the International Roman Catholic - Pentecostal Dialogue took place in Venice, Italy, July 23-30, 1999. The meeting was co-sponsored by the Pontificial Council for Promoting Christian Unity and some Classical Pentecostal Churches and leaders.

The goal of the Dialogue is a deepening of mutual understanding and respect between the two communities, and not organic or structural unity. The discussions were typified by an attitude of candor and trust. Each day was opened and closed with periods of devotions led alternatively by members of the two teams.

This year’s discussion was hosted by the Roman Catholic team who invited the Pentecostals to worship with them at the Basilica of San Marcos on Sunday morning, July 24. The congregation was appraised of their presence and asked to be in pray on behalf of the Dialogue. Later in the week, the teams were given a private tour of the basilica and crypt and Professor Snell, retired from the University of Birmingham (England) offered a lecture that highlighted both the history and tradition surrounding the building, and the theological significance of its many mosaics that highlight biblical passages.

The topic this year was "Faith and Christian Initiation: Biblical and Patristic Perspectives". The papers were read by Rev. William Henn, O.F.M. Cap. (Roman Catholic), the Rev. Thomas D. Pratt (Assemblies of God) and the Rev. Harold D. Hunter (International Pentecostal Holiness Church).

The ensuing discussion touched on a variety of issues including the understanding of the role and presence of the Holy Spirit, the implications of the freedom of the Holy Spirit as well as of the free will of human beings, the meaning of Christian initiation, and of baptism of water and baptism of the Spirit within the process of Christian initiation, the tension between seeing theology from experience as contrasted with seeing theology from a cognitive perspective. There was some discussion, too of the nature of conversion to which the next session in July, 2000, will be dedicated.

Co-Chairs of the Dialogue are Rev. Cecil M. Robeck, Jr. (Assemblies of God, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California) and Rev. Kilian McDonnell, O.S.B. (St. John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota, USA).

Other Pentecostal participants included: Dr. Cheryl Bridges Johns (Church of God, Cleveland, TN, USA) who was asked to serve as co-secretary; Rev. Jackie Johns (Church of God, Cleveland, TN, USA); Rev. Francois Moller (Apostolic Faith Mission, South Africa): Ms. Marta Palma (Iglesia Mision Pentecostal, Chile); Rev. Raymond M. Pruitt (Church of God of Prophecy, USA). The Rev. Gary Matsdorf (International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, USA) attended as an observer.

Other Roman Catholic participants included: Dr. Ralph Del Colle (Marquette University, Milwaukee, USA); Mr. Hans Gasper (Deutsche Bischofskonferenz, Germany); Sister Maria Ko, F.M.A. (Hong Kong, China); Rev. Patrick F. Lyons, O.S.B. (Ireland); Msgr. John A. Radano, USA (Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity); Rev. Luis Ramos, O.P. (Mexico); and Rev. Juan Usma Gomez, Colombia (Pontificial Council for Promoting Christian Unity) who served as co-secretary.