September ~ 2016 ~ Anglican-Roman Catholic news & opinion
The historic first public meeting between a Pope and an Archbishop of Canterbury since the Reformation will be celebrated by the current Pope and Archbishop when they meet next week in Rome, some 50 years on from the first meeting. It was a milestone in ecumenical relations when Archbishop Michael Ramsey paid an official visit to Pope Paul VI in 1966. The visit sent shockwaves around the world when Pope Paul presented Archbishop Ramsey with his episcopal ring. Next week’s meeting between Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin will be the third meeting between the pair – a sign of how normal the relationship between the two churches has become.
The relationship between the two churches had been thawing in advance of the 1966 meeting. In 1960 Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher paid a private visit to Pope John XXIII in Rome; and the following year Canon Bernard Pawley was appointed as the Archbishops of Canterbury’s and York’s representative to the Holy See. Anglicans were invited to observe the Second Vatican Council, when it met from 1962 to 1965; and it was felt that “a formal line of contact needed to be put in place.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew joined Pope Francis in Assisi yesterday (Tuesday) to lead an assembly of religious leaders in prayers for peace. More than 500 Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, Jain, Shinto and Zoroastrian leaders from around the world had gathered in the birthplace of St Francis for the World Day of Prayer for Peace event, which attracted around 12,000 participants. The Pope, Patriarch and Archbishop each gave a meditation on the theme of peace during an ecumenical prayer service to close the three-day prayer gathering, which had been organised by the Community of Sant’Egidio. This week’s event came on the 30th anniversary of the First World Day of Prayer for Peace, which the then-Pope, John Paul II, convened in 1986.
The bishops of the Church of England have begun a process of “episcopal discernment” on issues of sexuality. The process began this week at a meeting of the College of Bishops – all diocesan and suffragan bishops in the Province – and will continue through to next year at meetings of the House of Bishops – all diocesan and a selection of elected suffragans – in November and December; and the next College of Bishops meeting in January.
The announcement comes at the end of the first meeting of Church of England bishops since the conclusion of a process of Shared Conversations on the issue. Under the Shared Conversations, facilitated discussions took place in each of the dioceses over the course of two years. That came to an end with a private series of Shared Conversations for members of the General Synod at the conclusion of their meeting in July.
The Archbishop of Canterbury and York have established a Bishops’ Reflection Group, chaired by the Bishop of Norwich Graham James, “to take forward work on sexuality” and to “assist the episcopal discernment process.” They say that the bishops will not be making public statements about the discernment process until its conclusion.
The third annual cricket match between the Vatican’s St Peter’s Cricket Team and the Church of England’s Archbishop’s XI ended with victory for the Anglicans. Yesterday’s convincing win in the blistering heat of Kent County Cricket Club’s Spitfire Ground makes it 2-1 to the Church of England since the first match in 2014. The Archbishop’s XI batted first and ended their 20 overs on 157 for four. In their reply, the Vatican side had reached 63 for four after 13 overs when Father Tony Currer, from the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, was forced to retire with injury. It was all over a short time later when the St Peter’s Cricket Team finished on 94 for seven – giving the Archbishop’s XI victory by 3 runs! “Justin Welby will be pleased!” a Tweet from the Anglican Centre in Rome said.
The two sides will meet again tomorrow at Edgbaston in Birmingham, where they will be joined by a Muslim side from Yorkshire – the Mount Cricket Club. They will play a three-way T20 series, beginning at 10.30 am when the Archbishop’s XI once again take on St Peters. This will be followed by St Peter’s taking on the Mount; before the Mount takes on the Archbishop’s XI. The day is expected to and at around 7.30pm. Admission is free and a collection will be taken for anti-trafficking charities.
Today, representatives from the three sides will visit a C of E school in Birmingham where the majority of pupils are Muslims. It is intended to be a demonstration that friendships can transcend faith differences. The matches have been sponsored by the Church Times and Ecclesiastical Insurance with the support of Kent, Warwickshire and Yorkshire County Cricket Clubs.
It will be a case of “best of three” tomorrow when the Pope’s Cricket Team arrive in Canterbury to take on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s XI. The first match between the Vatican’s St Peter’s Cricket Team and a group of Anglican ordinands was played at the Spitfire Ground, home of Kent County Cricket Club, in 2014. The Vatican side were narrowly defeated on that occasion; but were convincing winners when the two sides met again last year in Rome.
Now, in what has become an annual event, the two teams will once more do battle when they meet at the Spitfire Ground tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon. And on Thursday the two sides will be joined by a Muslim side from West Yorkshire – the Mount Cricket Club – for a one-day triangular T20 series at Edgbaston, the home of Warwickshire County Cricket Club.
“The Anglican players share with their patron, the Archbishop of Canterbury, a belief that faith in God unites people rather than divides them,” the Revd Steve Gray, who captained the Archbishop of Canterbury’s XI in the past two years, said. “This is why it is such a privilege to host teams from the Vatican and Mount Cricket Club at Edgbaston. We’re thrilled that they have accepted the invitation – and the challenge.”
Among the thousands of pilgrims and visitors present in St Peter’s Square for the Pope’s general audience on Wednesday was a group of Anglicans from all over the world who are taking part in a week long study course on Christian leadership. Organised by the Anglican Centre in Rome, the course is based on Biblical scholarship, case studies of exemplary leaders, past and present, and field work in Rome and Assisi. Participants from the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Nigeria and Myanmar were among those attending the audience, while the director of the Anglican Centre, Archbishop David Moxon and Zambian Bishop William Mchombo of the Central African province were also able to exchange a few words with Pope Francis.