March ~ 2012 ~ Anglican-Roman Catholic news & opinion
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.]