December ~ 2016 ~ Anglican-Roman Catholic news & opinion
According to a story often repeated in the diocese of Quebec, when the first Anglican bishop, Jacob Mountain, arrived in Quebec City in 1793, he was greeted on the dock by his Roman Catholic counterpart, Bishop Jean-François Hubert. “Your people are waiting for you,” said Hubert, welcoming Mountain to his new home. While relations between French Catholics and English Protestants in Quebec have not always been so cordial, the leadership of the two churches have long understood the practical need to work together in a province where religion historically has played an outsized role in public life.
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.