Westminster Meeting of 300 delegates
BY A STAFF REPORTER THE 1967 Methodist Conference at Middlesbrough next week will be
asked to accept an invitation from Cardinal Heenan to a one-day conference with Roman Catholics in the Hall of Westminster Cathedral on Saturday, December 2. It would be the largest joint gathering of the two Churches ever held in Britain.
The Cardinal's proposal is disclosed in a report by the Conference's Genera] Purposes and Policy Committee contained in the conference's agenda. It suggests that each Church should be represented by 150 members. making 300 in all. who would also be the Cardinal's luncheon guests.
The committee urges the conference to accept the invitation and says that nominations of Methodist representatives to the meeting should be made at the September Synods, Such a meeting would be in line with thinking in the two Churches which has developed over the past year. It was a year ago this month that the Vatican Secretariat for Christian Unity and the World Methodist Council announced in Rome that a mixed group of representatives of both Churches would he named to "explore the possible ways to facilitate study and action" between the two Churches.
Then in the following August Cardinal Heenan attended the opening in London of the I 1th World Methodist Conference and Council and declared from the platform that Roman Catholics wanted unity talks with Methodists, He also said: "One of the errors of the unity movement has been to speak as if the Church of Rome. the Orthodox and the Church of England are the only serious partners. Christian unity is the concern of all. I am Just as anxious for talks with Methodists. Baptists and Con gregationalists as with Anglicans."
A report recommending that there should be one comprehensive ground for divorce— the breakdown of marriage— will also go before the conference. It calls for the reform of divorce laws and says that the last 20 years have seen a growing dissatisfaction with the existing system.
Indications of a breakdown arc given as adultery which the petitioner finds impossible to forgive and conduct by the respondent of a kind so intolerable that it would be unreasonable to expect the petitioner to continue to cohabit.
Further indications would be a period of separation of two years when the respondent. with full knowledge of the consequences, does not object, or the respondent has deserted. A period of separation of five years when the respondent objects is also suggested.