2012 ~ Anglican-Roman Catholic news & opinion
Archbishop David Moxon is heading to Rome as the Anglican Communion’s chief representative to the Roman Catholic Church. This means he will step down in April as the Archbishop of the New Zealand dioceses, and thus as one of the three leaders of the Anglican Church in these islands. He will also resign as Bishop of Waikato. Archbishop David’s new role in Rome will be twofold: as the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the Holy See, and also as the Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome. He expects to take up those responsibilities in May next year.
The representative role involves relating to the Vatican and the Pope on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Communion; while the Anglican Centre is an Anglican “embassy” in Rome which promotes Christian unity through hospitality, prayer and education – and which brokers new joint endeavours by the Catholic and Anglican churches. Archbishop David was asked to consider the role earlier this year. After months of prayer and consideration, he applied, and he was offered the post by Dr Rowan Williams – who says he is “personally delighted” that Archbishop David accepted.
New Zealand Anglican Archbishop, David Moxon, says there seem to be many obstacles to fully visible Anglican Catholic union and it is unlikely to be achieved in the near future. He is the co-chairperson of the Anglican-Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) and was speaking at the Commission’s meeting in Hong Kong last week. “We can, however, do a lot of things together during this slow process,” he says.
The Catholic co-chairperson, Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham, speaking before the meeting said,”I do understand those doubts, misgivings, and sometimes frustrations and disappointments particularly on the part of those people who have committed many years to dialogue and who at the outset thought the prospects of unity were much more realistic than they are now. New challenges, new obstacles have come in the way in the path of unity.
As the 4 to 10 May meeting of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) drew to a close, participants emphasized the importance of social witness and openness in ecumenical dialogue.
“There seem to be many obstacles from a human point of view, and it does not seem likely to have fully visible unity in the near future,” New Zealand Anglican Archbishop David Moxon, the co-chairperson of the meeting, said on May 8. “We can, however, do a lot of things together during this slow process,” he added.
“As we discussed in the meeting, there can be more collaborations between us, such as (humanitarian agencies) Caritas International and the Global Anglican Relief and Development Alliance,” he said.
Discernment of right ethical teaching was one of a number of issues on the table at the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission’s latest meeting in Hong Kong. The Commission is chaired by New Zealand’s Archbishop David Moxon and the Most Rev Bernard Longley (Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham), and comprises 19 theologians from across the world. They have been meeting at the Mission to Seafarers in Kowloon. The agenda covered the Church as Communion, local and universal, and how in communion the local and universal Church comes to discern right ethical teaching.
The Commission has also been asked to present the documents of ARCIC II for reception by the relevant authorities of both communions. At this latest meeting, running from May 3-10, the Commission built upon the framework it had prepared at its first meeting. This seeks to address the interrelated ecclesiological and ethical questions of its mandate under four headings: the identity and mission of the Church; the patterning of the Church’s life that undergirds local and universal communion; shortcomings in the churches which obscure the glory of God; and ethical discernment and teaching.
The English group which works for unity between Anglicans and Roman Catholics has begun a new stage of its life. Meeting at Canterbury Cathedral from 23 to 24 March in a context of prayer and worship, the members of the newly configured English Anglican – Roman Catholic Committee set in train a programme of work for the next five years. Evangelization in the context of an increasingly secular society will be a key theme. How our two churches can bear joint witness in the area of public affairs (on issues such as the common good as well as other social and ethical questions) will also form part of the agenda.
Anglicans and Roman Catholics share a somewhat turbulent history, but differences were brushed aside March 10 when Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and Pope Benedict XVI prayed together during an ecumenical vespers service at San Gregorio Magna al Celio in Rome.
The service marked the 1000th anniversary of the founding of Italy’s Camaldoli monastic community, which includes a presence at San Gregorio, a site of major significance to the origins of the Church of England.
Both Christian leaders, who held a private meeting earlier in the day to discuss human rights issues and concerns for the Holy Land, delivered a homily during the vespers and lit candles together in the chapel of St. Gregory.
Echoing the words of his two predecessors, Williams described the relationship between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church as “certain yet imperfect” during a sermon that extolled St. Gregory’s virtues of humility and prophecy.
“‘Certain’ because of the shared ecclesial vision to which both our communions are committed … a vision of the restoration of full sacramental communion,” he said. “And ‘yet imperfect’ because of the limit of our vision, a deficit in the depth of our hope and patience.” [The full text of the archbishop’s homily is available here.]
The pope, according to a Vatican Radio translation of his address, which was delivered in Italian, expressed hope that “the sign of our presence here together in front of the holy altar, where Gregory himself celebrated the eucharistic sacrifice, will remain not only as a reminder of our fraternal encounter, but also as a stimulus for all the faithful – both Catholic and Anglican – encouraging them … to renew their commitment to pray constantly and to work for unity. …” [The full text of the pope’s homily is available here.]