October ~ 2016 ~ Anglican-Roman Catholic news & opinion
Commemorations of next year’s 500th anniversary of the Reformation – which led to the separation of protestant churches from the Catholic Church – have begun with a combined prayer service in Lund Cathedral, Sweden, attended by Pope Francis and the Revd Dr Martin Junge, general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation. The participation of Pope Francis at the start of the year of commemorations is hugely significant and symbolises the growing ecumenical thaw which has been taking place over the past 50 years.
The prayer service is taking place in Lund Cathedral, which began life in 1080 as the seat of the Catholic archiepiscopal diocese of Lund; but since Danish Reformation in the 1520s and 1530s, has been a Lutheran cathedral. It became part of the Church of Sweden when the Province of Skåne (Scania) was ceded from Denmark to Sweden in 1658.
Through the Porvoo Communion, the Church of Sweden is in full communion with several Anglican churches, including the Church of England, the Church of Ireland, the Lusitanian Church of Portugal, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Reformed Episcopal Church of Spain, and the Church in Wales. Elsewhere across the globe, other Anglican churches are in varying degrees of unity and communion with other Lutheran churches.
Not much more than 100 years ago, Pope Leo XIII issued the papal bull Apostolicae Curae, which declared Anglican orders “absolutely null and utterly void.” Yet 50 years ago, Pope Paul VI placed his episcopal ring on the finger of Archbishop Michael Ramsey. The Second Vatican Council, in Unitatis Redintegratio, declared that among the communions of the West, “the Anglican Communion occupies a special place.” Pope Paul VI, following Vatican II’s logic, even referred to Anglicans as “our beloved sister church.”
Yet this month’s events in Rome marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Anglican Centre in Rome could not be celebrated by sharing the body and blood of our Lord. Instead it was marked by Scripture and prayer, a service of Vespers with Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin Welby seated side by side at the altar of the very church where St. Gregory the Great sent forth St. Augustine of Canterbury on his mission to England.
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.
Pope Francis presides at the celebration of Vespers with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the meeting between Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey, and the institution of the Anglican Center in Rome.
Archbishop Justin took the pectoral cross from round his neck and presented it to Pope Francis during vespers at San Gregorio al Celio in Rome, which they led jointly. The Pope put then put the cross round his neck.
The Pope gave to Archbishop Justin a replica of the pastoral staff of Pope St Gregory.
The Archbishop arrived in Rome last night to join in celebrations to mark 50 years of closer and deeper relationships between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church. He will meet formally with the Pope tomorrow, their third such meeting.
Before its journey to Rome, Archbishop Justin blessed the Cross of Nails at a service in Lambeth Palace Chapel, during which Lambeth Palace became the 200th Partner of the Community of the Cross of Nails, an international network in 35 countries, which arose out of the vision of the former Provost of Coventry Cathedral, Richard Howard, who made a commitment to forgiveness and reconciliation following the destruction of the cathedral in 1940.
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.”