2017 ~ Anglican-Roman Catholic news & opinion
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”.
The same year that the International Anglican–Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission produced Growing Together in Unity and Mission (hereafter, GTUM), the International Commission for Anglican–Orthodox Theological Dialogue published the Cyprus Agreed Statement, The Church of the Triune God (hereafter, CTG). This statement represents the fruits of the third phase of a dialogue between Anglicans and Orthodox that began in 1973, and its particular task was “to consider the doctrine of the Church in the light of the doctrine of the Trinity, and to examine the doctrine of the ordained ministry of the Church” (Introduction).
This is a rich document, well worth careful study. Since I have spent some time thinking recently about Anglican and Roman Catholic ecclesiology in Rome with my Covenant brethren, including a consideration of GTUM, I want to identify a few places in CTG that helpfully reinforce and expand much of what we find in GTUM, as well as a few places that are possibly in tension with GTUM when held up for comparison.
Our parish, St. Matthew’s Anglican Church, sits on a major street at the edge of the great city of Toronto, with over 2.5 million residents. Less than a kilometer away sits Our Lady of Peace Roman Catholic Church. For years now, both parishes join together every Sunday night from November through Easter in a program called “Out of the Cold,” hosting homeless folks who flock from all over the city for a feast. After supper, many of the men choose to stay overnight and keep warm, sleeping on mats on the gym floor. Many sit and chat, or watch the nightly movie; others take the time to shower, and pick out warm clothes. The last time I volunteered, I talked with a Roman Catholic lady struggling with her faith and the stance of her church. We talked about how much we have in common in doctrine and in practice, and how little we worship together and serve together. She was someone without much of a theological background, and so it was difficult to explain to her why Anglican orders are not received as valid, or how our Communion has drifted further from Rome doctrinally over the years. For her, these esoteric beliefs — doctrines — were getting in the way of real fellowship.