2017 ~ Anglican-Roman Catholic news & opinion
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” John 1:5
A couple of weeks ago, we both travelled to Rome to meet with members of the Sant’Egidio Community and to experience at first hand – however briefly – some of the wonderful work that these remarkable Christian disciples are carrying out. Not only are members of the community working for reconciliation in many countries of the world, but they are also to be found among the dispossessed of Rome giving practical and material help. In more recent times they have been at the forefront of caring for – and taking responsibility for – refugees who have found their way (sometimes in the most difficult of circumstances) to Italy.
It was in this context that we had the opportunity, one evening, to meet a number of these refugees – some from Syria and some from Eritrea. Three Eritrean girls, possibly still teenagers, had arrived in Rome only a few hours earlier, having been rescued from danger in Ethiopia by members of the Sant’Egidio Community. In conversation, we asked the girls how they were now feeling. One of them, with a sudden huge smile on her face, replied in just one word – “safe”.
During a special service to commemorate 500 years of the Reformation at the Westminster Abbey today, representatives of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the Roman Catholic Church received the Anglican Communion’s affirmation of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ). The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby presented LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge and the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) Bishop Dr Brian Farrell with the 2016 Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) resolution “welcoming and affirming the substance of the JDDJ.”
You might have heard the story about the German friar who nailed 95 provocative statements to a church door a long time ago, triggering something we now call the Reformation. If you’re looking for a modern interpretation, 500 years ago next Tuesday, Martin Luther posted a particularly incendiary series of tweets. He wanted to provoke debate about corruption in the Roman Catholic Church. He certainly achieved that. Sadly, Luther couldn’t take advantage of Twitter — and it’s generally accepted that he didn’t actually hammer his arguments to a church door. Instead he used the then cutting-edge technology of printing. But the impact was no less dramatic. What Luther wrote went around Europe incredibly quickly; it was the viral content of its day.
The journey of Anglicans and Roman Catholics towards the goal of visible unity was given a further impetus yesterday, 26 October, when the new Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the Holy See, Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi, was installed in his post by Archbishop Justin Welby. The service which was Anglican Evensong sung by the joint choirs of All Saints Anglican Church and St Paul’s within the Walls Episcopal Church, (with our own Canon Jonathan Boardman of All Saints as Cantor/Precentor), was held in the Caravita Church, the home of an English-language Roman Catholic Community in the city. There was a hearty assent from Archbishop Bernard when the Archbishop of Canterbury asked him “Will you commit yourself to the ministry of reconciliation striving to make visible the unity of the Church in Christ?”
In the spirit of the recommendation of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) that there should be regular meetings of Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops in individual countries to discuss common concerns, a sixth such meeting of Irish bishops took place in Dublin on Saturday, 28th September. Thirteen bishops were present representing the Irish Episcopal Conference and the House of Bishops. In an atmosphere marked by positivity and candour, the bishops discussed a wide range of issues of common interest in relation to the ministry and service churches offer in Irish society, both north and south of the border. These included education; engagement with young people; the World Meeting of Families, emphasizing its ecumenical possibilities; the plight of refugees and migrants; and current social issues. All the participants said the experience was very valuable as they shared insightful perspectives that engendered renewed commitment to promoting the Kingdom of God.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s new representative to the Holy See, Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi of Burundi, says his appointment will help Anglicans and Catholics to work more closely together on key issues of reconciliation, poverty and human trafficking. The Archbishop, who will also serve as director of Rome’s Anglican Centre, says his experience in jail, following a military coup in Burundi, taught him humility and other valuable lessons about the responsibility of religious leaders.
‘Walking together on the way’ is the title of a new document to be published by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, whose members met this month in Erfurt, Germany. Despite some “difficult conversations” and “hard questions” over the past year, the Anglican and Catholic theologians who make up ARCIC III managed, at the May 14th to 20th meeting, to conclude the first part of their mandate, finding agreement on ways in which the two Churches are structured at local, regional and universal levels. The new statement opens the way for the Commission to tackle the second part of its mandate on how the Churches, at local and universal level, are able “to discern right ethical teaching”. But what does the new ecumenical text contain? And how will it affect ordinary Catholics and Anglicans in the pews? To find answers to those questions, Philippa Hitchen spoke to the Catholic co-secretary of ARCIC III, Fr Anthony Currer of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity.
Anglicans and Roman Catholics should see in each other “a community in which the Holy Spirit is alive and active,” the latest communiqué from the official ecumenical dialogue between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church says. Members of the third-phase of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) met in the central German city of Erfurt early this month for their seventh meeting. They chose to meet in the city to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation – it is here that Martin Luther was ordained and lived as a monk. During their meeting, the members of ARCIC agreed the text of a new statement looking at Anglican and Roman Catholic ecclesiology. Walking Together on the Way: Learning to be Church – Local, Regional, Universal, to be known as The Erfurt Document, will be published next year.
Pope Leo XIII’s papal bull Apostolicae Curae (1896), which declared Anglican orders “absolutely null and utterly void,” has long cast a shadow over the search for unity between Anglicans and Roman Catholics. Anglican churches’ ordination of women as priests is a further complication, as Pope John Paul II made clear. Now one of the Vatican’s top legal minds seems to have opened the way to reconsider Pope Leo’s teaching on Anglican orders. “When someone is ordained in the Anglican Church and becomes a parish priest in a community, we cannot say nothing has happened, that everything is invalid,” said Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.
The disclosure comes in a volume of papers and discussions in Rome as part of an ecumenical forum on the Malines Conversations. Its title refers to a series of Anglican-Catholic conversations acting on the 1920 Lambeth Conference’s “Appeal to All Christian People,” a statement widely credited as foundational to modern ecumenism. The Malines Conversations met with only lukewarm support from Rome and Canterbury but are now considered an important ecumenical stepping stone.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Governors of the Anglican Centre in Rome are very pleased to announce the appointment of Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi, Primate of the Anglican Church of Burundi from 2005 until 2016 as the Representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Holy See and Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome. He succeeds Archbishop David Moxon who retires in June. Born in 1948, Archbishop Ntahoturi grew up in a small village in Matana, Southern Burundi, the son of a poor farming family. After training at Bishop Tucker Theological College in Mukono, Uganda, he was ordained in 1973. He came to England to further his theological training at Ridley Hall and St John’s in Cambridge, where he is now an honorary Fellow, and then at Lincoln College, Oxford. After his studies, he returned to Burundi where he joined the civil service, becoming chief of staff to President Jean-Baptiste Bagaza. After the overthrowing of President Bagaza in 1987, in a military coup, he was jailed from 1987 to 1990. In 1992, he became Provincial Secretary of the Anglican Church of Burundi until 1997.
Another milestone in relations between Canterbury and Rome took place in the Vatican on Monday as a traditional Anglican Choral Evensong was celebrated for the first time in St Peter’s Basilica. Anglican and Catholic bishops and clergy – including one female chaplain, Rev Dana English from the Anglican Church of All Saints Rome – gathered together at the altar below Bernini’s great bronze sculpture encasing the relics of the Chair of St Peter. Sunshine streamed through the giant alabaster window depicting the Holy Spirit as a dove, while the renowned choir of Merton College, Oxford, sang motets by the English Renaissance composer William Byrd, as well as some more contemporary works and well-loved Anglican hymns.
Anglicans and Catholics must not simply recall the legacy of great saints from the past, but must pass on to others “what we have received ourselves in the hope of a reunited Christendom.” That was the message from English Archbishop Arthur Roche, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, to a historic celebration of Anglican Choral Evensong in St Peter’s Basilica. Archbishop David Moxon, director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, presided at the March 13th liturgy. The choir of Merton College, Oxford, sang motets by the English Renaissance composer William Byrd, as well as more contemporary works and some well-loved Anglican hymns.
An ecumenical milestone was marked in the Vatican on Monday as a traditional Anglican Choral Evensong was celebrated for the first time in St Peter’s Basilica. Cardinal Angelo Comastri, Archpriest of the Basilica, gave permission for the historic event during meetings with Archbishop David Moxon, Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome. The renowned choir of Merton College, Oxford came to sing music written at the time of the Reformation, as well as contemporary compositions and well-loved Anglican hymns.
Meals for the poor, bibles for African victims of human trafficking, and a special Lenten cake. These were the gifts Pope Francis received from the Anglican community of Rome on his Sunday visit to All Saints Church. On the occasion of its 200th anniversary, Rome’s Anglican parish offered Pope Francis several gifts, two for the poor in his name and another for his palate. First, All Saints parish and its twin Catholic parish in Rome, Ognissanti (‘All Saints’ in English), said they would offer a meal every Friday evening for the poor around the Ostiense train station in Pope Francis’ name. Second, of the 200 English bibles printed for the parish’s anniversary, 50 will be donated to ‘prostitutes in Western Africa who often ask for them’. The bibles will be distributed by a network of sisters who help victims of human trafficking, many of whom end up in forced prostitution. Finally, some of the best products of the Anglican Church, including homemade jams and mustards, as well as a ‘Simnel Sunday cake’.
The path toward Christian unity can’t be found isolated in a laboratory hashing out theological differences, but rather by walking together on a common journey, Pope Francis said. While theological dialogue is necessary, Catholics and Anglicans can continue to “help each other in our needs, in our lives and help each other spiritually,” the pope said Feb. 26 while answering questions from parishioners of All Saints’ Anglican Church in Rome. “This cannot be done in a laboratory; it must be done walking together along the way. We are on a journey and while we walk, we can have these (theological) discussions,” he said. The pope made history as the first pontiff to visit the Anglican parish, which was celebrating the 200th anniversary of its establishment in Rome. Invited by the Anglican community, Pope Francis took part in an evening liturgy and blessed an icon of Christ the Savior to commemorate the occasion.
Pope Francis has paid a visit to All Saints Anglican Church in the heart of Rome. This afternoon the Pope presided over an evensong service with the bishop of the Anglican Diocese in Europe Robert Innes. Whilst at the Church the Holy Father also answered questions from the congregation. Responding to one question the Holy Father said a visit to South Sudan was being studied at the moment. He also said there was the possiblity that he would be accompanied by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. The Pope also blessed a newly commissioned icon of Christ the Saviour. It’s the first time a pope has visited an Anglican church in Rome and it comes as part of All Saints’ 200th anniversary celebrations.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, I wish to thank you for your gracious invitation to celebrate this parish anniversary with you. More than two hundred years have passed since the first public Anglican liturgy was held in Rome for a group of English residents in this part of the city. A great deal has changed in Rome and in the world since then. In the course of these two centuries, much has also changed between Anglicans and Catholics, who in the past viewed each other with suspicion and hostility. Today, with gratitude to God, we recognize one another as we truly are: brothers and sisters in Christ, through our common baptism. As friends and pilgrims we wish to walk the path together, to follow our Lord Jesus Christ together.
You have invited me to bless the new icon of Christ the Saviour. Christ looks at us, and his gaze upon us is one of salvation, of love and compassion. It is the same merciful gaze which pierced the hearts of the Apostles, who left the past behind and began a journey of new life, in order to follow and proclaim the Lord. In this sacred image, as Jesus looks upon us, he seems also to call out to us, to make an appeal to us: “Are you ready to leave everything from your past for me? Do you want to make my love known, my mercy?”
Pope Francis will make a historic visit to an Anglican Church in Rome on Sunday. He’ll join the congregation at the Church of England chaplaincy of All Saints for a short Choral Evensong service; it will include the blessing of a specially commissioned icon and the twinning of All Saints with the Catholic parish of Ognissanti, a Rome church with strong ecumenical ties. The event comes as part of the 200th anniversary celebrations for All Saints which began with a small group of worshippers holding the first Church of England liturgy on October 27th 1816. The current church, close to the Spanish steps, was built over half a century later, designed by one of the most famous British architects of the Victorian era, George Edmund Street. All Saints is the largest Anglican congregation in Italy and part of the [Church of England’s] Diocese in Europe. The church, led by its chaplain, Rev. Jonathan Boardman, and assistant chaplain, Rev. Dana English, was recently granted legal recognition from the Italian State. Diocesan Bishop Robert Innes will be welcoming Pope Francis, together with his suffragan Bishop David Hamid.
The Archbishop of Canterbury is encouraging Christians of all denominations to join in with a ten day global prayer initiative “Thy Kingdom Come” from Ascension Day to Pentecost. What began last year as an invitation from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to the Church of England has grown into an international and ecumenical call to prayer. Last year more than 100,000 people joined in and in 2017 it’s expected to be on a bigger scale. Launching the initiative, which runs from 25 May to 4 June, Archbishop Justin said: “When the wind of the spirit is blowing, hoist the sails and go with the wind. It’s not a Church of England thing, it’s not an Anglican thing, it’s a Christian thing.”
When his Grace, Archbishop Justin Welby, visited Rome in June 2014, Pope Francis, in his address to the Archbishop said, quite simply, “We must walk together.” The image of the journey undertaken together was already a theme common to a number of papal speeches, and part of Pope Francis’s vision of the Church. Addressing clergy and lay-people in Assisi on 4 October 2013, he said, “I think this is truly the most wonderful experience we can have: to belong to a people walking, journeying through history together with our Lord, who walks among us! We are not alone; we do not walk alone. We are part of the one flock of Christ that walks together.” This conception of the Church has much to offer our ecumenical relationships. The image has now been used in a variety of different contexts and has been enthusiastically taken up by other Christian leaders. However, two moments in Anglican-Catholic relations that occurred in 2016 have given a fuller sense to its meaning and enable us to discern with greater clarity what walking together with our ecumenical partners might mean.
These two moments came at the beginning and the end of a vespers service celebrated by Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin Welby at San Gregorio al Celio on 5th October. The vespers celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the historic meeting between Blessed Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey in 1966. On that occasion the first Common Declaration between a Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury was published. It signalled the desire of both communities to work towards a “unity of truth”.