On the invitation of the IBC the following bishops and theologians met together in Wislikofen (CH) from 6th till 8th August 2010: Most Rev Dr Joris Vercammen, Rt Rev Dr Dirk Jan Schoon, Rt Rev Dr Matthias Ring, Rt Rev Dr Harald Rein, Rt Rev Dušan Hejbal, Rt Rev Dr John Okoro, Rt Rev Dr Wiktor Wysoczanski, Prof Dr Urs von Arx and Prof Dr Franz Segbers of the Old Catholic churches of the Union of Utrecht, Rt Rev Dr Isaac Mar Philoxenos, Rt Rev Joseph Mar Barnabas and Rt Rev Dr Geevarghese Mar Theodosius of the Mar Thoma church, Most Rev Dr Godofredo J. David and Prof Dr Terry Revollido of the Philippine Independent Church (Iglesia Filippina Independiente – IFI), Rt Rev Carlos Lopez Lozano of the Spanish Episcopal Reformed Church, and Rt Rev Ludwik Jab³oñski of the Old Catholic Church of the Mariavites.
This three-day meeting was focused on the ecclesiology and aimed to common reflection on the theological identity of our episcopal-synodically structured churches. In doing this, we, bishops and theologians, learned to know each other more in depth. This common reflection has strengthened our fellowship.
In the first part of the program the presentations on the various churches were given, in the second part three more in-depth lectures about the different ecclesiologies were presented by Prof Dr Urs von Arx (The Ecclesiology of the Union of Utrecht), Prof Dr Terry Revollido (The Ecclesiology of the Philippine Independent Church) and Rt Rev Dr Isaac Mar Philoxenos (The Ecclesiology of the Mar Thoma Church). Then the presentation by Prof Dr Franz Segbers was given on the common IFI-Old-Catholic-Episcopal project “Catholicity and Globalization”.
All the participants were touched by the richness of the theological and spiritual exchange, by the opportunity of meeting each other personally and by sharing the experience of the participating churches from different contexts. For some participants – like the Mariavite, Mar Thoma and IFI delegates – it was for the first time to meet each other on more personal level. Above all written documents and agreements, in this way the ecumenical relationships become more vivid and fruitful. That is the way we can avoid the prejudice and understand one another’s struggle.
In spite of our different histories and traditions, we discovered several similarities between our churches, that share the common apostolic and catholic tradition, and our common aim to make Christian faith relevant to the lives of our people. Our discussions made clear that continuing theological reflections would be fruitful. Therefore the initiative will be taken to organize a theological consultation with the participation of the Union of Utrecht, Mar Thoma church and IFI.
– The Mar Thoma church is proposed to extend an invitation for this consultation, in order that the members can meet in 2011 in India.
– The results of this consultation will be reported to the participating churches.
– After that the participating bishops will meet again for review.
- – The participating bishops agreed on the strengthening of the collaboration of their representatives at ecumenical bodies, in order to speak together with one and stronger voice.
During this meeting the bishops of the Union of Utrecht expressed the necessity of stressing the ecumenical calling of the Old Catholic churches. They are aware of their task to make their own people more conscious about mutual responsibility and mutual benefit through ecumenical interactions.
To be the Church means mission. Mission involves sharing of richness of the life of Christ. The participants are aware of their responsibility for this sharing, that would strengthen the communion of churches in general and each church in particular.
Wislikofen, 8th August 2010