1998 ~ Anglican-Roman Catholic news & opinion
The Lambeth Conference sent a strong message of commitment to church unity Tuesday (August 4, 1998).
In its first plenary session to debate resolutions, the bishops recommitted the international Anglican church to journey towards “the full, visible unity of the Church as the goal of the Ecumenical Movement,” and voted to strengthen the role of its own major ecumenical agency.
“As bishops, the visible unity of the Church is a vital part of our ministry,” said Bishop Jabez Bryce of Polynesia, who introduced the report and resolutions from the conference’s Section Four. The section, comprised of approximately 200 bishops, has been discussing the theme, “Called to be One,” for the past two weeks.
What is it like to make a choice? The temptation we easily give way to is to think that it’s always the same kind of thing; or that there’s one kind of decision making that’s serious and authentic, and all other kinds ought to be like this. In our modern climate, the tendency is to imagine that choices are made by something called the individual will, faced with a series of clear alternatives, as if we were standing in front of the supermarket shelf. There may still be disagreement about what the ‘right,’ choice would be, but we’d know what making the choice was all about. Perhaps for some people the right choice would be the one that best expressed my own individual and independent preference: I’d be saying no to all attempts from outside to influence me or determine what I should do, so that my choice would really be mine. Or perhaps I’d be wondering which alternative was the one that best corresponded to a code of rules: somewhere there would be one thing I could do that would be in accord with the system, and the challenge would be to spot which one it was – though it might sometimes feel a bit like guessing which egg-cup had the coin under it in a game. But in any case the basic model would be much the same: the will looks hard at the range of options and settles for one.
A top official of the Roman Catholic church has offered a positive but cautionary assessment of the relationship between the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches, according to ecumenical consultants assisting at the Lambeth Conference.
The homily at Monday night’s ecumenical vespers service by Edward Cardinal Cassidy, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity at the Vatican, reasserted that the two churches “share a real, but imperfect communion,” said Dean William Franklin of the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale University in the United States.
“He categorically reaffirmed the commitment of the Roman Catholic Church to the full visible unity of all the baptized, which means establishment of full communion,” including reconciliation of ministries and sacraments, Dean Franklin said. Cardinal Cassidy’s statement that Anglicans and Roman Catholics are “increasingly bound up with each other,” also is a “technical but important description,” he said. And even though Cardinal Cassidy offered clear warnings that some developments in the Anglican Communion could impair that relationship, his comments reflected “a level of communion where we need to be realistic with one another,” Dean Franklin said.
It is a great pleasure to be here in this great Cathedral. It is also a pleasure to be surrounded by so many representatives of the Grand Duchy’s diverse life. I am grateful to Archbishop Fernand Franck for his invitation to make my first visit to Luxembourg. I want to greet all the different Churches that make up Luxembourg’s ecumenical community. Together, we pray Christ’s prayer that “all should be one”.
A visitor to Luxembourg is made aware by the nature of this city that he is in the very heart of Europe, although a Europe that is undergoing great change and development. Over the next few days, I look forward to learning how Luxembourg and the various institutions that are based here, are responding to the challenges of those changes. The vision of a vigorous Europe with its own sense of identity and values is one, of course, that I embrace in common with many here. I believe that the Christian community has an important, indeed pivotal, role in helping to forge a European identity. An identity which, though conscious of and grateful to its Christian inheritance, is at the same time welcoming of other faith communities.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd George Carey, has issued a highly personal plea for the lift of the Roman Catholic ban on intercommunion.
The Archbishop, who is the spiritual head of the Anglican Communion, with 70 million members worldwide, used the opportunity of a sermon in Luxembourg’s Roman Catholic Cathedral on 26 April to highlight “the distressing situation of eucharistic separation”. He said that the Millennium provided an opportunity to deepen the bonds of faith and fellowship between the two Churches.
His appeal brought a rapid response from Cardinal Basil Hume, head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, who spoke of the “need to explore with our ecumenical partners” the nature of the sacrament and the theology of the Church.
In an unprecedented act in the country’s religious history, Ecuadorian Cardinal Bernardino Echeverria offered a sermon in the Anglican Church’s El Salvador Cathedral.
The high-ranking Catholic leader spoke at the inaugural service for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, held in the Anglican Cathedral. In his vibrant sermon, Cardinal Echeverria praised the ecumenical initiative and emphasized the importance of all Christians working for unity.
“It is the first time that I have participated in a worship service in a non-Catholic Church and I have realized how much we have in common,” said the prelate. He recalled the emphasis that the II Vatican Council placed on ecumenism and underlined the fact that Pope John Paul II exhorted Christians to persevere in prayer and to seek the aid of the Holy Spirit in the search for Church unity.