SCRANTON – After having recently completed a term serving as chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera is taking on a new role aimed at advancing Christian unity.

In 2021, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) appointed Bishop Bambera to serve as the Catholic co-chair for the Catholic – Pentecostal International Dialogue that began 50 years ago, following the completion of the Second Vatican Council.

Bishop Bambera will travel to Rome next month to participate in ongoing Dialogue that is scheduled to take place July 8-14, 2022.

The Dialogue is made up of eight Catholic and eight Pentecostal theologians from around the world who meet annually to address an agreed upon topic for reflection, dialogue and prayer.

The goal of the Dialogue is to promote mutual respect and understanding in matters of faith and practice. Genuine exchanges and frank discussion concerning the positions and practices of the two traditions have been guiding principles of the Dialogue over the last five decades.

After being delayed for several years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Dialogue will focus on the topic of Kerygma/Proclamation and the Christian Life.

Over the past fifty years, the International Catholic – Pentecostal Dialogue has allowed leaders of the two religions to renew their common faith in the healing power of Jesus.

When it started in 1972, most Pentecostal denominations were not yet open to any ecumenical activity and some Pentecostal leaders did not want it to exist and even tried to stop the dialogue from taking place.

Father Kilian McDonnell, OSB, the founding Catholic Co-Chair of the Dialogue, once called the Dialogue a set of “Improbable Conversations.”

Over its five decades, the Dialogue has helped to open doors for greater understanding and built unexpected bridges. Among the topics discussed over the last five decades are the Holy Spirit and Sacraments, Mission and Evangelization and how Classical Pentecostals understand the gifts of prophecy, healing and discernment.

Despite the Dialogue that has taken place, Cecil M. Robeck, Jr., author of “Fifty Years of Catholic – Pentecostal Dialogue, 1972-2022: A Pentecostal Assessment,” noted “Pentecostals have a long way to go before minds and hearts are changed, but change is slowly taking place. The most significant issues continue to be Pentecostal ignorance of Catholic teaching and the fears that Pentecostals continue to hold over past Catholic actions.”