The Catholic bishops of England and Wales and Church of England bishops met in Leicester from 16 to 17 January for their biennial conference.
Together 27 Catholic and 27 Anglican bishops explored a diverse range of subjects including opportunities for closer collaboration at a regional and national level. Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Archbishops Justin Welby and John Sentamu were present throughout. Cardinal Nichols and Archbishop Welby addressed the gathering.
Dr Paula Gooder and Professor Paul Murray, members of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, led the bishops in reflection on its latest document Walking Together On The Way. Drawing on their rich experience of walking together as fellow pilgrims, the bishops considered the life of their global communions. They explored similarities and differences between the structures of their churches.
Fifty bishops – 25 Anglicans and 25 Catholics – will convene in the British city next January 16-17. Rev Worthen told SIR: “Spirituality, theology and coexistence will be the ingredients of the meeting” that with a tight agenda: liturgy and debates with the spotlight on the Declaration “Walking Together On The Way.”
Next January 16 and 17 fifty bishops, half of them Catholic and half of them Anglican, will convene in Leicester, central England, a city with an important tradition of interreligious dialogue, for a two-day ecumenical meeting. These meetings take place every two or three years, providing participants with the opportunity to create precious relations based on mutual esteem, friendship and cooperation. “Spirituality, theology and coexistence are the ingredients of the Leicester meeting”, said Rev Jeremy Worthen, Secretary for Ecumenical Relations at the Council for Christian Unity, a body of the Church of England in charge of fostering relations between Christian churches. “The Church of England is in charge of organizing this year’s two-day event that will take place behind closed doors. In addition to the bishops, the meeting will be attended also by press officers and administrative staff.”
“Synodality,” a key concept of Pope Francis‘ papacy, was used repeatedly in the final document of the Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocation discernment.
In simple terms, “synodality” means “walking together” with every member of the church, recognizing that the grace of baptism makes one part of the body of the church and, therefore, responsible for its life and mission.
“The church must really let herself be given shape by the Eucharist that she celebrates as the summit and source of her life,” being like “the bread made from many stalks of wheat and broken for the life of the world,” the synod document said.
“The fruit of this synod, the choice that the Spirit has inspired in us through listening and discernment, is to walk with young people going out to all to witness to the love of God,” it said. “We can describe this process by speaking of synodality for mission, that is, missionary synodality.”
At Solemn Vespers in the Shrine Church on Monday 24th September – the Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham – a new Covenant agreed between the Anglican and the Roman Catholic Shrines in Walsingham was announced and signed by Fr Kevin Smith (Priest Administrator of the Anglican Shrine) and Mgr John Armitage (Rector of the Roman Catholic Shrine). Messages from the Bishop of Norwich and the Bishop of East Anglia were read out to mark the occasion. This historic event was witnessed by visiting pilgrims and members of the local community.
The latest agreed statement by the third Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC III) was released July 2. “Walking Together on the Way: Learning to be the Church – Local, Regional, Universal” indicates that Anglicans and Catholics are still on the way together and learning from each other.
The year 1966 included a watershed moment for Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue: Then-Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey paid a visit to Pope Paul VI, and a common journey began. In 1970, ARCIC was instituted and, since then, has explored the themes of authority and ecclesiology of communion.
“This current document takes up these two themes again, and seeks to develop them in a new way,” said Roman Catholic Archbishop Bernard Longley and Anglican Archbishop David Moxon in a joint statement that serves as the preface of the statement. Both archbishops served as co-chairs of ARCIC III.
Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue:
Online resource centre for Anglican-Roman Catholic relations
Welcome to the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) website, an online resource centre for Anglican-Roman Catholic relations.
Highlights of the IARCCUM.org collection
21 study papers from the 1967-1975 Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission on the Theology of Marriage, including:
• Mixed Marriage: Status Quaestionis ~ ARCJPC-MM-2
• John Macquarrie, On the Nature of the Marriage Bond (Vinculum Conjugale) ~ ARCCM-17
• Aloysius M. Ambrozic, Indissolubility of Marriage in the New Testament: Law or Ideal? ~ ARCCM-19
• Prof. G.R. Dunstan, The Anglican Understanding of Natural and Sacramental Marriage ~ ARCCM-23
IARCCUM is a commission established by the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church as an official joint commission. IARCCUM exists in parallel with the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, the theological commission known as ARCIC. IARCCUM’s purpose is:
In 2000, Archbishop George Carey, then Archbishop of Canterbury, and Cardinal Edward Cassidy, then President of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, convoked a conference of Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops at Mississauga in Canada to discern the progress made in theological conversations since the 1960s, and whether closer co-operation could be developed between the two traditions. The result was IARCCUM, which has been meeting since 2001. In February 2007, it published the first fruit of its work, the report Growing Together in Unity and Mission, accompanied by two commentaries. IARCCUM’s work continues under the co-presidency of Archbishop Donald Bolen and Bishop David Hamid.
In October of 2016, IARCCUM gathered 19 pairs of Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops in Canterbury and Rome for an 8-day pilgrimage. This gathering was an opportunity to study and pray together at the tombs of Saints Peter, Paul, Augustine of Canterbury, and Thomas à Becket. The bishop-pairs were commissioned by Pope Francis and Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby at vespers at San Gregorio al Celio. On the site where St Gregory the Great commissioned St Augustine to evangelise the English, these bishops were commissioned to promote the growth in communion between these two churches and the reception of the agreements reached in the theological dialogues.