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• Ecumenical event fosters hope

Members of The Salvation Army and the Catholic Church met in the Vatican, Rome, for the second round of the Informal Conversations meetings.

Members of The Salvation Army and the Catholic Church met at Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican in Rome to hold the next meeting in the second round of Informal Conversations in November 2023.

The specific theme for this year’s gathering was ‘Missional discipleship: Hope in a Change of Epoch’, with presentations of a theological paper on ‘Encounter with the Living Christ and the hope that is within us’ and a more practical paper on ‘How do we ensure that our works are expressions of hope and vehicles for encounter with the Risen Christ?’.

The 12 delegates also joined a World Day of the Poor mass in St Peter’s Basilica, presided over by Pope Francis.

Salvation Army Commissioner Jane Paone, Co-Chair of the Informal Conversations group and Secretary for International Ecumenical Relations, said that, “The discussions we had were extremely insightful and provided an opportunity to learn from one another. Throughout the conversations, there was an awareness of how Christians were being called to live boldly, reflecting the hope that is within them, despite the many changes around the world. In the sharing, delegates were stimulated to reflect on their own attitudes as missional disciples.

“We think we are agents of hope when it is the people receiving who become givers of hope to us. The essence of being a Christian is not about ideas, but about an encounter with a person. One of the biggest challenges we have is how to transmit our faith today.”

Bishop Brian Farrell, The Secretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, challenged the group to “realise that we are sent here, representing our traditions . . . to make an effort to make sure we pour this grace into the life of our communities.”

As the Informal Conversations meeting concluded, the group reflected on the discussions, and all delegates agreed that they had learnt from one another’s traditions, gifts and strengths.

There was also an awareness of the need to include young people and be there to listen to honest questions in a changing epoch.

The next Informal Conversations meeting will be held in The Salvation Army’s Sunbury Court in London in November 2024, with the theme ‘Shared Missional Vision in a Changed Epoch: Re-imagining the Communication of the Gospel’.


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