Anglicans and Roman Catholics Pray for Unity

30 May 2000 • Persistent link:

The Pope, His Holiness John Paul II sent a message of greeting to the historic May 2000 gathering of Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops in Mississauga, Toronto, Canada. On the eve of his 80th birthday, the Pope expressed his hope that the meeting would “bear lasting fruit” and hasten unity of the two churches.

“For more than 30 years the Anglican and the Catholic Church have been on a journey towards the restoration of unity,” said the Pope in a statement read by Cardinal Edward Cassidy to 2,000 worshippers in St Michael’s Roman Catholic Cathedral in Toronto. “In some places there have been very positive developments … in other places we are not so far along the road [and] new and serious obstacles have slowed our progress. I pray that the spiritual bonds that have always lifted Catholics and Anglicans will be strengthened and deepened even further.”

Cardinal Cassidy, who is president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, read the message at a service to celebrate the international meeting of bishops, which was led by the Most Revd George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury.

A capacity congregation at St Michael’s cathedral, which included the Ontario Premier Mike Harris and former Canadian Prime Minister John Turner, applauded at the end of the Pope’s message.

Pairs of bishops from thirteen regions around the world met in Canada to review thirty years of ecumenical dialogue between Anglicans and Roman Catholics, and to search for common ground for future progress.

The Archbishop of Canterbury said in his sermon that while the “tangled and sometimes wretched history” of Anglican and Roman Catholic relations is not the fault of the faithful today, church members are guilty of failing to heal their four-century rift.

“We are accountable to the degree that we are unwilling to work for resolution of the results of past conflicts,” the Archbishop said. He also spoke out against some non-Anglican protestants who demonstrated during the meeting against attempts to find unity with Roman Catholics. “Polemics lead to hatred and division,” he said? “Partnership leads to the promise of mutual service and eventual union … it requires us to transcend the old prejudices and discontents, and see in the other the face of Christ, as a prelude to moving beyond our entrenched positions to a much greater future.”