In the year that Waldensians and Methodists celebrate the 40th anniversary of the creation of the Union of Waldensian and Methodist Churches, this ecumenical partnership received wider endorsement when Pope Francis paid a pastoral visit to a local Waldensian Church in Turin (during his visit to the city to see the Shroud). He was received by the Moderators of the Waldensians in Italy and in Uruguay and Argentina (Pastors Eugenio Bernardini and Oscar Oudri) as well as the local pastor Paolo Ribet and the President of OPCEMI (the federation of evangelical Methodist churches in Italy), Deacon Alessandra Trotta.
For Waldensians with a long history of survival throughout sustained periods of persecution and lack of religious freedom since the Reformation, it was a climatic moment as the Pope asked for forgiveness for the way in which the Roman Catholic Church had treated the Waldensians. For Methodists in Italy it was a moment of immense pride for a woman church leader to share a moment of blessing the Pope with the words of a hymn used as a benediction, invoking God`s blessing on him: “until we meet again, the Lord sustain you in your walk”. That the Italian media reported the occasion so prominently and that the Roman Catholic Church chose this moment to demonstrate in this year of celebration of the 50th anniversary of the ending of the Second Vatican Council and its commitment to the search for unity and the need for dialogue demonstrates that the hopes of many for an “ecumenical Spring” are not unfounded in the present climate of Francis` pontificate.
At its forthcoming Synod of Bishops to be held in October, the Rev Dr Tim Macquiban, Director of the Methodist Ecumenical Office Rome, will represent the World Methodist Council as its Fraternal Delegate to the General Assembly, considering the topic: The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and the Contemporary World. He is the Pope`s closest Protestant neighbour as pastor of the Ponte Sant`Angelo Methodist Church.