`Left as friends
BY A STAFF REPORTER "WE came as strangers and parted as friends." This is how Fr. Herbert Keldany, of the Westminster Ecumenical Centre, summed up last Saturday's "get-together" of 300 Catholics and Methodists in London.
So successful was the consultation—the first at a national level—that a similar gathering of youth from both Churches is now planned for the autumn of 1968. It is hoped to hold a series of "icebreakers" (as Saturday's gathering has been dubbed) throughout the country.
Both Cardinal Heenan and Dr. Irvonwy Morgan, president of the Methodist Conference, were delighted with its success. Dr. Eric Baker, secretary of the Methodist Conference said : "I haven't seen such a happy occasion for a long time. We were all lifted in spirit."
Dr. Harold Roberts, of the Richmond Theological College, described the occasion as a "very promising beginning to dialogue." Bishop Butler, Auxiliary of Westminster, said it was an opportunity for a "fresh examination of what the two churches have in common."
The fact that the day's discussions were pitched at the ordinary level of church members appealed greatly. A Catholic layman declared: "It's at this type of conference where it strikes you just how little many of us know about other people's faith."
Dr. Roberts. one of the Methodist Church's most outstanding ecumenists. said he was also pleased that the day had not been confined to specialists and theologians. There were issues that did not so much divide the churches, as need clarification. Among these were Authority, Sacraments. Mariology and Morality.
Saturday's gathering was fairly representative of Britain's five million Catholics. It included at least one priest and one layman or woman from every diocese in England and Wales. Although Scotland was not officially represented at the talks, there was a Scottish participant. The 700,000 church-going Methodists of Britain were also represented by a wide cross-section of clergy and laity.
The gulf between Methodists and Catholics is not as wide as it is sometimes claimed. This week. for instance, it was announced that the Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary is to hold a pilgrimage to a Methodist place of histor;c interest—Wesley's House. London, E.C.. on January 4.
The Rev. Gordon Wakefield will read from Wesley's writings with reference to the Virgin Mary and an ecumenical service will be conducted in the Wesley chapel by a Methodist minister.
Last Sunday there was another "first association" with the Methodists when Fr. W. R. Shea, a Canadian priest doing research work at Darwin College, preached at the Leys School. Cambridge. Founded in 1875 by Methodist laymen, the school follows a Methodist form of worship, but denominational barriers have always been avoided and the headmaster, Mr. W. A. Barker, is an Anglican.
In Brighton this week it was announced that Bishop Cashman has given permission for St. Thomas More's Catholic Church to be used for Methodist services while the Methodists rebuild their own church and hall.
The Rev. J. Rodney Bickle. the Methodist minister and the Rev. G. Leslie Holdsworth, the Superintendent Minister, of Southwick, agreed that "it is a very generous offer by the Catholics of the Brighton and Hove district."
On the international ecumenical front this week: Rome — The Vatican announced that a mixed working group of the Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches will start a 5-day meeting in the Italian shrine town of Assisi this Sunday. It will be the sixth such meeting since the working group was established early in 1965.
The secretary general of the World Council of Churches has invited the Catholic Church to send 15 delegated observers to the council's fourth General Assembly, to be held at Uppsala, Sweden, from July 4-19.
Geneva—The Catholic and Protestant churches have for the first time produced a joint prayer leaflet. The leaflet was written by representatives of the Vatican and the World Council of Churches for a "week of prayer for Christian unity" to be held in 1968. Zurich—The first round of an official dialogue between the Catholic • and Lutheran churches has ended with "considerable agreement" on some basic points dividing the two faiths. Theologians comprising the joint study commission established by the two churches agreed to meet again in the autumn of 1968.
Celibacy survey in Munich THE priests' council of Munich Archdiocese has approved the establishment of a commission to study all questions in connection with priestly celibacy. Lay and clerical experts and theologians will submit the results of their study to the priests' council for discussion.