2016 ~ Anglican-Roman Catholic news & opinion
In late September and early October I participated in a pilgrimage to Canterbury and Rome as part of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM). The vision of the IARCCUM pilgrimage was to bring 19 “pairs” of bishops, Roman Catholic and Anglican, from different regions and countries, to share in a common experience of formation and prayer that would lead to commissioning by Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby. The pilgrimage commemorated the anniversary of Archbishop Michael Ramsey‘s 1966 visit to Pope Paul VI, a meeting that led to the establishment of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) and the beginning of official theological dialogue between the two communions.
This pilgrimage was a transformative event for me. I have been involved in ecumenical work throughout my ordained ministry, with Roman Catholics and other Christians, both of the “faith and order” and the “life and work” sort. Since 2010 I have been co-chair of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Consultation USA (ARC-USA), the bilateral dialogue between the Episcopal Church and the Roman Catholic Church in this country. These relationships over the years have enriched my life and ministry.
The pilgrimage experience was unlike anything else that I have participated in my life in the church. It moved my commitment to ecumenism to a deeper level. Some of the paired bishops were not able to attend, but 36 of us ended up undertaking the pilgrimage. The time spent together in the historic sites of Canterbury and Rome established and deepened relationships, and re-initialized the work of practical cooperation between the churches that is at the heart of IARCCUM.
A group of Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops have acknowledged both churches’ failure to protect children, women and indigenous peoples. In a statement issued by the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) today following the group’s historic meeting in Canterbury and Rome last month, they call on the Church to repent and seek justice for victims. They say that, “at the foot of the Cross we, as bishops, have reflected on an ‘ecumenism of humiliation’. We lament our failures and share the brokenness of our church communities.”
They continue: “We failed to protect vulnerable people: children from sexual abuse, women from violence, and indigenous peoples from exploitation.
“In this communion of shame, we confess that our own feeble witness to God’s call to life in community has contributed to the isolation of individuals and families, and even to that secularisation which removes God from the public space. We, as bishops, are called to lead the church in repentance and to seek justice for the abused.”
The bishops have called their statement “an appeal from the IARCCUM bishops to the bishops and the people of the Anglican and Catholic communities.”
A call for Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops from around the world to work more closely together in witness and joint mission is part of the ongoing fruit of a unique eight-day gathering held earlier this fall in Canterbury and Rome, says Regina Archbishop Donald Bolen.
“We were commissioned as pairs of bishops to go and work together, to witness together wherever possible, and to encourage our brother bishops to work together,” says Bolen, one of the bishops from around the world commissioned for the task by Pope Francis and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.
“The ongoing story is what the pairs of Anglican and Catholic bishops can do together across Canada, and across the world.”
The purpose of the summit was to discover where Catholics and Anglicans can give greater witness to their common faith and collaborate in mission to the world, based on 50 years of dialogue and the agreed statements of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) and the IARCCUM document, “Growing Together in Unity and Mission.”
If Christians are called to live their faith concretely, then they cannot leave out concrete signs of the unity to which Jesus calls them.
And just because the formal Anglican-Roman Catholic theological dialogue has been forced to grapple with new church-dividing attitudes toward issues such as the ordination of women and the blessing of same-sex marriages, it does not mean that common prayer led by Anglican and Catholic leaders and concrete collaboration by Catholic and Anglican parishes are simply window dressing.
Dozens of Catholic and Anglican bishops and several hundred priests and laity from both communities gathered in Rome in early October to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Vatican meeting of Blessed Paul VI and Anglican Archbishop Michael Ramsey of Canterbury, almost 50 years of formal theological dialogue through the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (known as ARCIC) and the 50th anniversary of the Anglican Centre in Rome.
The celebrations, highlighted by an ecumenical evening prayer service Oct. 5 with Pope Francis and Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, coincided with a meeting of a newer body, the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission, known as IARCCUM.
Pope Francis has this morning (Thursday) held a meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury and other Anglican Primates and bishops at the Vatican. The Pope told them that ecumenism was “never an impoverishment, but a richness” and he said that during the past 50-years of closer relationship between Anglicans and Catholics, “the certainty has deepened that what the Spirit has sown in the other yields a common harvest.”
And he urged them: “Let us never grow tired of asking the Lord together and insistently for the gift of unity.”
Addressing the Anglican leaders as “dear brothers and sisters in Christ”, he described the gathering as “a beautiful sign of fraternity”.
And he described the historic meeting 50 years ago between Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey – the first public meeting between a Pope and an Archbishop of Canterbury since the Reformation – as producing “many fruits.”
A number of news services have highlighted October 5’s considerable ecumenical events, in celebration of the 50 years of the Anglican Centre in Rome, founded after Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey‘s visit to Pope Paul VI in 1966. At that time, Pope Paul gave Archbishop Ramsey his episcopal ring, a gesture of lasting ecumenical significance. Matt Townsend and I reported at The Living Church on the papers at the symposium, as well as milestones on the way to a new ecumenism (“Ecumenism that Transforms”). ACNS noted the commissioning of 19 pairs of Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops, as part of a new phase of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity and Mission (IARCCUM). ACNS also provided further reporting on the bishops’ pilgrimage and the sort of work they hope to do upon their return to their dioceses. ACNS and The Living Church reported on the common declaration of Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin Welby. But none of them offered an interpretation of the numerous, highly significant ecumenical statements and gestures during the events in Rome, not least as they related to the papacy and the status of the Anglican episcopate.
The ordination of women and “more recent questions regarding human sexuality” are serious obstacles in the path to unity between Anglicans and Roman Catholics; but they “cannot prevent us from recognising one another as brothers and sisters in Christ”, Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said in a Common Declaration.
Speaking of the meeting between Pope Paul VI and Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey in 1966 – the first such public meeting of a Pope and Archbishop of Canterbury since the Reformation – and their Common Declaration, Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby said that their predecessors had “recognised the ‘serious obstacles’ that stood in the way of a restoration of complete faith and sacramental life between us. Nevertheless, they set out undeterred, not knowing what steps could be taken along the way, but in fidelity to the Lord’s prayer that his disciples be one.
“Much progress has been made concerning many areas that have kept us apart. Yet new circumstances have presented new disagreements among us, particularly regarding the ordination of women and more recent questions regarding human sexuality. Behind these differences lies a perennial question about how authority is exercised in the Christian community. These are today some of the concerns that constitute serious obstacles to our full unity. While, like our predecessors, we ourselves do not yet see solutions to the obstacles before us, we are undeterred. In our trust and joy in the Holy Spirit we are confident that dialogue and engagement with one another will deepen our understanding and help us to discern the mind of Christ for his Church. We trust in God’s grace and providence, knowing that the Holy Spirit will open new doors and lead us into all truth.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Pope Francis have commissioned 19 pairs of Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops from across the world to take part in united mission in their local areas. The bishops, selected by the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) were “sent out” for mission together by the Pope and Archbishop from the same church where Pope Gregory sent Saint Augustine to evangelise the English in the sixth Century.
“Fourteen centuries ago Pope Gregory sent the servant of God, Augustine, first Archbishop of Canterbury, and his companions, from this holy place, to preach the joyful message of the Word of God,” Pope Francis told the bishops. “Today we send you, dear brothers, servants of God, with this same joyful message of his everlasting kingdom.”
Archbishop Justin Welby told them: “Our Saviour commissioned his disciples saying, ‘Peace be with you’. We too, send you out with his peace, a peace only he can give.
“May his peace bring freedom to those who are captive and oppressed, and may his peace bind into greater unity the people he has chosen as his own.”
The commissioning and sending out came in the setting of a Vespers service, led jointly by Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby, at the Church of Saint Gregory on the Caelian Hill in Rome.
Dialogue between Anglicans and Roman Catholics should lead to transformative change within churches and the world, ecumenical leaders said at the Pontifical Gregorian University on Oct. 5.
Speakers at the meeting, “50 years of Walking Together in Faith: Exploring New Directions in Anglican-Roman Catholic Relations,” included the Archbishop of Canterbury and Cardinal Kurt Koch. The meeting was a global gathering of 300 Anglicans, Catholics, and ecumenical visitors.
The colloquium, one of the public theological conversations in Anglican-Catholic pilgrimage from Canterbury to Rome, formed a major part of the Jubilee celebrations of the Anglican Centre in Rome. The centre was founded amid renewed ecumenical energy after publication of the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Ecumenism in 1964.
Archbishop David Moxon of the Anglican Centre in Rome said he “celebrated … substantial agreement” between Anglicans and Roman Catholics on the Trinity, the Church as communion, the Word of God, Baptism, the Eucharist, ordained ministry, authority, Marian doctrine, discipleship and holiness, and unity in common mission.
Pulpit swaps, shared retreats, joint action on social issues and regular meetings between clergy are just some of the ideas for local expressions of unity between Anglicans and Roman Catholics taking shape during an ecumenical summit in Canterbury and Rome. This afternoon, during a service in the monastery church of San Gregorio al Cielo, Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will commission 19 pairs of Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops to implement local expressions of unity in their dioceses around the world.
The commissioning of the 19-pairs of bishops has been organised by the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) as part of a week-long ecumenical summit marking the 50th anniversary of the first public meeting between a Pope and an Archbishop of Canterbury since the Reformation.
The summit, which began at the weekend in Canterbury Cathedral and is continuing now in the Vatican, will also mark the 50th anniversary of the Anglican Centre in Rome.
“I have been deeply moved by what has been happening,” the Anglican Bishop of Sialkot in Pakistan, the Rt Revd Alwin Samuel, said. “To see Roman Catholics celebrating the Eucharist in Canterbury Cathedral was a miracle.
“It is an answer to Jesus’ prayer that we may be one.”
“ARCIC & IARCCUM: 50 years of walking together in faith” is a symposium to be held Wednesday, 5 October 2016 at the Pontifical Gregorian University. Planned in conjunction with the IARCCUM pilgrimage, this symposium will be an opportunity to explore in detail some of the achievements of 50 years of dialogue between Anglicans and Roman Catholics.
Thirty-six IARCCUM Anglican and Catholic bishops, representing 19 different regions where Anglicans and Catholics live side by side in significant numbers, will meet in Canterbury and Rome for a summit meeting in October of this year. The bishops will arrive in Canterbury for the first leg of their meeting on 30th September. They will be staying at the Lodge in Canterbury Cathedral, will take part in the liturgical life of the Cathedral, and will make a pilgrim visit to the shrine of St Thomas à Becket, where Pope John Paul II and Archbishop Robert Runcie prayed together.
The purpose of the meeting will be to discover new ways where, on the basis of the agreed statements of ARCIC, Catholics and Anglicans can give greater witness to their common faith, and particularly how they can collaborate in mission to the world. The meeting will begin by listening to the bishops’ own pastoral challenges. The bishops will also reflect on the previous documents of IARCCUM, and particularly, Growing Together in Unity and Mission. They will be accompanied by Dr Anna Rowlands of Durham University, who will be present at all the bishops’ discussions and will resource the meeting from her expertise in Catholic and Anglican Social Theology.
Seven years after the first Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue was held at the Anglican Communion offices in London, England, in 2010, a record 24 bishops – including four primates – came together in Accra, Ghana, from 25 – 29 May to learn about the unique contexts and challenges different parts of the African, North American and English churches are facing. In a testimony released following the consultation, titled “Unity in Diversity,” the bishops looked back on what has been accomplished since 2010, and said that in order to build a stronger sense of unity, the Communion needs to turn to the past.
Introduced by the Most Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Asante as an ecumenical contribution from the Methodist Church of Ghana, the Akan concept of sankofa served as a guiding framework for the Seventh Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue, which took place from May 25-29 in Accra, Ghana. The gathering brought together bishops from Canada, Ghana, Swaziland, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Burundi, Zambia, England, and the United States. Sankofa — literally, ‘It is not a taboo to fetch what is at risk of being left behind’ — refers broadly to the unity of past and present, where the narrative of the past is a dynamic reality that cannot be separated from consideration of the present and future. The Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue emerged after the 2008 Lambeth Conference as a way for bishops from different backgrounds to continue an ongoing, respectful dialogue in the midst of significant disagreements, primarily over the issues of human sexuality and same-sex marriage.
Anglican and Roman Catholic leaders were joined by senior figures from other Christian denominations last night at a special choral evensong in Westminster Abbey to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Anglican Centre in Rome. Anglican, Catholic and Orthodox Church leaders were present at the service, which was sung by the Westminster Abbey Choir. In his sermon, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby praised the work of the Centre, and its director, Archbishop David Moxon, joking that the centre was seen by some as the Anglican Communion’s spy station in Rome. “Those are the first time I heard those words this evening,” Archbishop David told ACNS afterwards, “but I think in terms of intelligent reporting, in terms of a careful look at each other, in terms of good communication and awareness of each other, it is a humorous and anecdotal description which I enjoy.” The service, he said, summed up “50 years of faith, hope and love”, and he added: “The Anglican Centre is a bit like a fiddler on the roof: it needs funding every year, it can’t guarantee its existence, but it tries to play a tune of faith, hope, love; to try to suggest that what unites us is greater than what divides us. That’s the point. “And we stand on that roof, playing that tune, saying to people ‘look up! The Holy Spirit is trying to build bridges all the time.’ We are part of that process, part of that energy,” he said, adding that God gives the courage and hope needed to build bridges between the denominations.
The Anglican-Roman Catholic Covenant between the Regina archdiocese and the Diocese of Qu’Appelle signed in 2011 continues to grow, with activities between the two faith communities. They gathered May 15, Pentecost Sunday, at St. Paul’s Cathedral for a traditional Anglican evensong service with a homily delivered by archdiocesan administrator Rev. Lorne Crozon and the apostolic blessing performed by Winnipeg Archbishop Emeritus James Weisgerber. Canon Michael Jackson, Anglican co-chair of the Covenant Implementation Committee, opened the service, followed by St. Paul’s Cathedral dean Michael Sinclair, who welcomed everyone.
Susan Klein, Roman Catholic co-chair of the Covenant Implementation Committee reported on the numerous activities the covenant participants have shared since the last time they met. Among the highlights was Signs of Hope: A Conversation on First Nations Ministry, held in the fall of 2015. It attracted Aboriginal and non-Aboriginals who engaged in conversations following presentations by Rev. Dale Gillman and Sister Re-Anne Letourneau.
Is doubt just the opposite of faith? Or is it more complicated?
Bishop Donald Bolen, of the Roman Catholic diocese of Saskatoon, says this is one of the central issues facing people today, and a question that’s been on his mind throughout his life as a priest.
For him, it’s definitely more complicated.
“In a sense, apathy is the opposite of faith, whereas a lively doubt is a part of our faith,” Bolen says. “Doubt wants faith to have its reasons… I think when people pay serious attention to their doubts and don’t give up on them, but work with them, the doubting becomes a motivation to think more, to search more, to pray more, to look harder, to find reasons, and I think that’s a motivation which leads to a deeper faith,” he says.
“The doubter is on a quest.”
The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) is the official body appointed by the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion to engage in theological dialogue in order that they may come into visible unity and full ecclesial communion. It held the sixth meeting of its current phase (ARCIC III) in an atmosphere of shared prayer and friendship at the St John’s Convent, Toronto, hosted by the Anglican order of the Sisters of St John the Divine, 11–19 May 2016. Members of the Commission are grateful to the Sisters of St John the Divine for their prayerful support throughout the meeting, and to the guest house team for the warm welcome extended to them.
After nearly 50 years of discourse between the Catholic and Anglican communions, the official dialogue body wants to fine-tune how it studies the differences and similarities between two churches which both call themselves Catholic.
“ARCIC III hasn’t proved itself yet,” Sir David Moxon, Anglican co-chair of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, told The Catholic Register following an ecumenical evensong on Pentecost Sunday.
This third stage of the dialogue has been meeting since 2011, but has yet to publish a major document. It is currently studying how the Church arrives at moral teaching.
The official dialogue sponsored by the Vatican and the Archbishop of Canterbury is meeting in Toronto until May 18, when a concluding communique is expected from the meeting of 22 bishops, theologians and support staff. It is the first time the body has met in Canada and, to the knowledge of the participants, the first time in 50 years that ARCIC has met during Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit first revealed the global unity of the Christian message expressed in the diversity of languages from around the world.