On Friday morning, the Holy Father received a number of representatives from the World Methodist Council (WMC), led by their president, Bishop Sunday Mbang of the Methodist Church of Nigeria. The Pope thanked them for "the prayerful presence and support of Methodist representatives at the funeral of Pope John Paul II and at the celebration marking the inauguration of my pontificate." After recalling how 40 years ago that week, Paul VI had "expressed the hope that differences between Christians could be resolved, 'slowly, gradually, oyally, generously.' Now we have to reflect upon the friendly relations between Catholics and Methodists, and upon the patient and persevering dialogue in which we have engaged. Indeed, there is much for which we can today give thanks. "Since 1967, our dialogue has treated major theological themes such as: revelation and faith, tradition and teaching authority in the Church. These efforts have been candid in addressing areas of difference. ... Our dialogue and the many ways in which Catholics and Methodists have become better acquainted have allowed us to recognise together some of those 'Christian treasures of great value.' On occasion, this recognition has enabled us to speak with a common voice in addressing social and ethical questions in an increasingly secularised world." Benedict XVI expressed his appreciation for "the initiative which would bring the member churches of the World Methodist Council into association with the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, signed by the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation in 1999." This, he said, will "assist in contributing to the healing and reconciliation we ardently desire, and would be a significant step towards the stated goal of full visible unity in faith." The Methodist communions affiliated to the WMC have individually approved the text of the Declaration, which will be officially voted and approved in Seoul, South Korea, in July 2006, during the WMC general assembly.
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