By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
Addressing the Third Global Gathering of the Global Christian Forum taking place in Bogotá, Colombia, from April 24-27, Bishop Brian Farrell said, “we need contact and dialogue in order to truly know each other, trust each other, learn and work together so as not to use our differences to keep us separated, and even less, to be in conflict”.
New expressions of Christianity
The first of 6 desires that Bishop Farrell expressed is that traditional churches take seriously and respect newer expressions of Christianity, such as pentecostals and charismatics. These new faith experiences challenge age-old positions regarding “customs, laws and traditions”, as well as “our lack of courage regarding moral and ethical standards”, he said.
Addressing these new expressions of Christianity, Bishop Farrell invited them to “deepen their theological base” to avoid an acritical understanding of “Scripture and its implications”.
By recognizing that we participate in a mutual baptism, Bishop Farrell provided a base on which to invite the Christian community to avoid all types of proselytism. Through baptism, “we enter into communion with God and the Christian community using the biblical form: through water and the Trinitarian formula”, he said.
The Ecumenical moment
Bishop Farrell expressed the hope that those Christian communities who are “distrustful of the ecumenical movement might recognize that it is rooted in the Gospel and inspired by the Holy Spirit”. He urged that sterile discussions on the structures and government of the Church be replaced with a sense of belonging that comes from a shared Gospel faith.
Lastly, he expressed the desire that obstacles be overcome so that experiences such as bible study, prayer, and mission, among others, might be undertaken communally.
The grace we share
Bishop Farrell concluded his address saying that the Global Christian Forum will have value if it “creates the conditions for a new era of friendship and solidarity among all of the Christian communities, emphasizing the grace that we share rather than insisting on the differences that divide.” Only thus, he said, “can we accomplish the Lord’s mandate to preach the Gospel to the nations”.