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.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has spoken of the pain caused by the broken communion between Christians brought about as a result of the Protestant Reformation. But, as the churches mark tomorrow’s 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his theses to the door of the Schlosskirche (All Saints / Castle Church) in Wittenberg, Archbishop Welby said that “we have learned once again to love one another — and to seek to bless and love the world in which we live.”
Archbishop Justin made his comments in a comment piece for London’s Evening Standard newspaper. In it, he wrote about a recent Communion service he attended in the city’s Roman Catholic Westminster Cathedral, led by the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols.
“Because of the events of the Reformation and the history since, it remains impossible for Anglicans and Roman Catholics to receive communion together,” he wrote. “At that solemn moment in the service, I lined up at the front with everyone else. But because I could not put my hands out for the bread and wine, I knelt down to be prayed for by Cardinal Nichols. He took my hand and lifted me to my feet. Both of us had tears in our eyes. We are the closest of friends, and being reminded of the divisions in the global Church pains us both very deeply.”
Pope Francis met on Friday with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, together with the new director of Rome’s Anglican Centre, Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi of Burundi. Following their half hour encounter in the Apostolic Palace, the two Anglican archbishops and their wives joined the pope for lunch in his Santa Marta residence to continue the conversation.
On Thursday, the Anglican leader presided at Vespers at Rome’s Caravita church for the installation of Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi as his official representative to the Holy See. The Vatican’s foreign minister, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, who previously served as nuncio in Burundi, preached the homily, stressing that ecumenical engagement is a moral imperative for all Christians.
Philippa Hitchen caught up with Archbishop Welby at the end of his brief visit to Rome to find out more about his meeting with the pope and their plans for a joint visit to war-torn South Sudan…
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?”
A resolution from the Anglican Consultative Council welcoming an agreed Roman Catholic-Lutheran declaration on justification will feature at a service in Westminster Abbey next week. The service, on Tuesday (31 October) will mark the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses, critical of Catholic teaching on justification, to the door of All Saints’ Church – the Schlosskirche – in Wittenberg, Germany.
Luther’s actions kick-started the Reformation and led to bloody and violent actions and counter-actions between Roman Catholics and Christians in the newer Lutheran and other Protestant churches which emerged as the Catholic monopoly in Europe came to an end.
After extensive ecumenical dialogue between the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Lutheran World Federation, a Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification was agreed in 1999. In it, the two Churches sat that they now share “a common understanding of our justification by God’s grace through faith in Christ.” The agreement paved the way for a closer relationship between Catholics and Lutherans, culminating in Pope Francis’ participation in a service in Malmö, Sweden, last year at the start of a year of activities to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
Victory in Rome has given the Archbishop of Canterbury’s XI a 3-1 win-margin over the Pope’s cricket team. A specially selected team of cricket-playing English clergy travelled to Rome for the fourth in what has become an annual Anglican-Catholic match between the Archbishop of Canterbury’s XI (ABC XI) and the Vatican’s St Peter’s Cricket Club. And on Saturday, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s XI beat St Peter’s by 39 runs.
The ABC XI batted first, finishing on 176/3, largely thanks to a century from Chris Kennedy, the curate of St Richard’s Church in Hanworth. Kennedy, the ABC XI’s vice-captain, finished on 103 not out. A batting partnership between Kennedy and team captain Chris Lion, curate at St James’s Church in Gerrards Cross, ran up the Anglican’s first 100 within an hour of the match starting.
The victory gives the Archbishop of Canterbury’s XI a 3-1 victory over St Peter’s in the straight matches between them. The first match saw the ABC XI wrap up victory at Kent County Cricket Club’s Spitfire Ground in Canterbury, before St Peter’s draw the teams level with victory in Rome a year later. It was a return to Canterbury for last year’s match, which saw another victory for the Anglicans.
Anglicans and Protestants in Myanmar are looking forward to Pope Francis’ visit to the country next month. Pope Francis will visit Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw at the end of November, ahead of a visit to Bangladesh. Nant Myat Noe Aein, a 21-year-old youth leader in the Church of the Province of Myanmar, told AsiaNews that “the apostolic journey of Pope Francis to Myanmar, a Buddhist majority country, shows that its society is more open now than before.
“Our country used to be a closed society for decades. With the new democratic government since last year, society is gradually opening up for change. And the visit of Pope Francis is a blessing.”
The Myanmar Council of Churches (MCC) unites the Anglican Church of the Province of Myanmar with a number of other Christian denominations in the country. Its general secretary, Lal Puia, also welcomed the Pope’s intended visit, saying that it “has put Myanmar in the limelight of the world, which is interested to know more about the country and its people.
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 Roman Catholic Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin, delivered a homily in Armagh’s Anglican Cathedral at a special choral evensong to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. In the presence of the Anglican Primate, Archbishop Richard Clarke, Archbishop Eamon spoke about three ways of reconciling the Reformation by emphasising “the importance of friendship and trust”, “a shared encounter with Christ in the sacred scriptures and in prayer,” and by “strengthening our shared Christian witness on the island of Ireland.”
Archbishop Eamon spoke about the words of Pope Francis ahead of the 2013 conclave in which he was elected, saying that he warned against a self–referential Church. “The Church, he often says, must resist the temptation to become closed in on herself out of fear or prejudice, thinking ‘we’ve always done it this way’. Instead, the Church must be prepared to go out, inspired by true faith, bringing certain hope and living in perfect charity. The missionary impulse, Pope Francis says, is ‘capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channelled for the evangelisation of today’s world rather than for her self–preservation’”
The leaders of 33 Anglican provinces are returning to their home churches “refreshed and renewed” after this week’s Primates’ Meeting in Canterbury Cathedral. Three primates were unable to attend the meeting because of logistical and other issues in their provinces, while another three declined to attend “citing what they believed to be a lack of good order within the Communion,” the meeting’s communiqué said. “We were saddened by their absence and expressed our hope and prayer that all will join us at future meetings.”
The primates who were present described the meeting as “a gift from God, through which we experienced many signs of God’s presence amongst us.” In their communiqué, they said that “we experienced many signs of God’s presence amongst us. The sense of common purpose underpinned by God’s love in Christ and expressed through mutual fellowship was profound.”
Speaking at a press conference at the end of the Primate’s Meeting, Archbishop Paul Kwong of Hong Kong, the chair of the Anglican Consultative Council, described the meeting as “the best” of the five Primates’ Meetings he had attended. “The best, not because everyone present agreed with everything; but because everyone present was sincere, was committed, was honest to each other, and I could sense everyone who was there, in particular myself, felt uplifted [and] encouraged.”
Disappearing islands in the south Pacific, recent hurricanes in the Caribbean, and food security issues in Africa were amongst the items discussed by Anglican church leaders as they discussed climate change and the environment during the Primates’ Meeting in Canterbury, England. The discussions began on Tuesday when the Primate of the West Indies, Archbishop John Holder, briefed his colleagues on recent hurricanes in the Caribbean; and continued yesterday (Thursday) when the primates heard about disappearing islands in the south Pacific and food security issues in Africa.
Later, in an interview with the Anglican Communion News Service, Archbishop John Holder of the West Indies said that he welcomed the primates’ discussion on the environment, saying that it was “very important” for the Church to speak out on climate change. “We are connecting these two devastating hurricanes [Irma and Maria] to climate change,” he said. “We can’t prove it but we think there is some kind of climate change element in there.”
Commenting on the primates’ discussions, he said: “We were hearing the stories from different parts of the world on climate change,” he said. “And I think we are all convinced it is a fact of life.
“Even if you take away the term ‘climate change,’ something is going wrong with the weather. The weather is becoming extremely destructive and there must be a reason for that.
“So all of us … understand this is a problem and we commit to doing whatever we can to alleviate this problem; or at least help people prepare themselves for the bad weather. And when they are devastated or when they have bad experiences, then chip in to help them to reconstruct and revive themselves.”
A discussion about evangelism and discipleship strategies amongst the leaders of the Anglican Communion’s 39 independent provinces was so lively, it continued through the lunch break, the Archbishop of South East Asia said this evening (Wednesday). Archbishop Moon Hing, the bishop of West Malaysia, led a Bible study at the start of this morning’s session of the 2017 Primates’ Meeting before a general discussion on witness and evangelism. The Archbishop chairs the international Anglican Witness group of mission leaders and practitioners, said that he was “very happy and very glad” about the discussions, saying: “I am really uplifted because we […]
The senior archbishops of the Anglican Communion have begun their 2017 Primates’ Meeting by sending a message and letter of condolence to the Bishop and People of Nevada following the mass-shooting at Las Vegas, which has so-far claimed the lives of some 58 people and left more than 500 people requiring hospital treatment. This evening, a period of silence was held at the start of evensong in Canterbury Cathedral and the Presiding Bishop of the US-based Episcopal Church led the congregation in prayer.
The primates spent Monday morning in a spiritual retreat inside England’s Canterbury Cathedral, the mother church of the Anglican Communion, before the formal start of the business-side of their meeting this afternoon. The shooting in Las Vegas was one of the first items the primates discussed.
In a message to the Bishop of Nevada, Dan Edwards, the 34 primates gathered in Canterbury expressed their concern for the victims of the attack, their families and friends.
“We were greatly distressed to learn of the dreadful events in Las Vegas last night,” the statement said. “The scale of the loss of life and the numbers of injured is truly shocking. We are sending our deepest condolences to you and to the people of your diocese – in particular, the people of Las Vegas.
“We are praying for the families and friends of those who have died and for the many people who have been wounded. We remember, too, everyone else caught up in this tragedy – including the emergency services (first responders). We pray that the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ will be with the people of Las Vegas as they endure this trauma.”
The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission published its first document in 13 years on how both institutions can learn from each other in the exercise of ecclesial authority locally, regionally and globally.
The document, “Walking Together on the Way: Learning to Be the Church — Local, Regional, Universal,” is the first to come out of the third phase of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, known as ARCIC III, which began meeting in 2011. The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity made the document public on its website July 2.
The latest agreed statement on how structures of authority support and promote ecclesial communion is considered a key element in understanding how discussion and debates are handled and decisions about ethics and “right” moral teachings are made, which will be the topic of the next document by ARCIC III.
The statement also represents a new methodology of “receptive ecumenical learning,” which, it says, seeks “to learn how the experience and structures of the other tradition might help them address their own questions and difficulties.”
The document explores the respective structures of the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion and identifies the challenges and difficulties each tradition faces at the local, regional and worldwide levels. It then asks what each tradition holds that might be transformative or beneficial and learned from the other tradition so as to better support the mission of the church.
“This task requires frank assessment, repentance, and the courage to look at ourselves honestly and learn from the other,” the agreed statement said.
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.