In honour of Pope Francis’ inauguration in Rome, the World Methodist Council sent the Vatican a congratulatory letter upon hearing the news of the Pope’s election.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
15th March 2013
H.E. Cardinal Kurt Koch
Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
The Steering Committee of the World Methodist Council is meeting here in Brazil, and so we have been able to experience the happiness of Latin American Christians at the election of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as Pope. As the announcement in Rome was made, we paused in our deliberations, and offered prayer for the coming ministry of Pope Francis.
Catholics and Methodists find themselves together in almost every part of the globe. Thanks to our theological dialogue of some 45 years, we have discovered how much we hold in common: “One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all” (Eph 4:5-6, NRSV).
We rejoice in the name he has chosen, for all Christians honour the name of Francis, a saint we share from before the divisions of the western Church. Remembering this apostle to the poor, we find ourselves in the company of John Wesley, our founder, with his passion for holiness of heart and life, and for social holiness, which reaches out to the needy. “The Call to Holiness” is the theme of our current international dialogue, which began its work in Buenos Aires last October.
We recall also the great missionary saint of the Society of Jesus, Francis Xavier, for above all, Methodists are committed to preaching the Gospel to every creature. May these holy connections bind us closer in our service to humanity in the name of Christ, the Lord of all.
We make our own the prayer of Peter: “All of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind” (1 Peter 3:8, NRSV), which is echoed so closely in the eirenic Letter to a Roman Catholic, which John Wesley wrote in 1749.
Please assure His Holiness of the earnest prayer of the Methodist people that God will give him strength, wisdom and discernment for his tasks, and that by the Spirit working within us all, our Lord Jesus Christ will continue to make us one, “that the world may believe” (John 17:21, NRSV).
Bishop Paulo de Tarso Oliveira Lockmann
Bishop Ivan M. Abrahams