2019 ~ Anglican-Roman Catholic news & opinion
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Right Reverend Justin Welby led a retreat with Pope Francis in Casa Santa Marta this week (10-11 April) for the political leaders of South Sudan. The Reverend John Chalmers, former Moderator of the Church of Scotland was also in attendance. The ecumenical retreat was the fruit of an unprecedented collaborative effort by Lambeth Palace and the Secretariat of State.
A remarkable, spontaneous gesture. Breaking protocol, at the conclusion of his remarks at the end of the spiritual retreat, Pope Francis fell to his knees, kissing the feet of South Sudan’s civil authorities.
“To the three of you who signed the Peace Agreement, I ask you, as a brother, remain in peace”, the Pope said. “I ask you from the heart. Let us move forward. There will be many problems, but don’t be afraid, go forward, resolve the problems”. In impromptu remarks following his address, Pope Francis said, “You have started a process; may it end well. Although struggles will arise, he said, these should stay “within the office”. However in public, he said, “before the people: [keep your] hands united”. In this way, the Pope said, “from simple citizens, you will become Fathers of the Nation”.
A Spiritual Retreat involving civil and ecclesiastical authorities of South Sudan is held in the Vatican, and is opened by the Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin. Reflections include a meditation centered on the national anthem of Africa’s youngest country.
A time of grace dedicated to reflection and prayer, to ask God “for a future of peace and prosperity for the people of South Sudan”. In the words of the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, this is the meaning of the spiritual retreat currently underway in the Vatican, at the Casa Santa Marta.
Participants at a historic gathering of church leaders from five Christian World Communions have issued a statement recommitting themselves to communicating the biblical message of salvation in new ways to contemporary society. We “wish to make more visible our common witness, in worship and service, on our journey together towards visible unity, walking together, praying together and working together.”
The meeting, which took place at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, United States from 26 to 28 March, brought together ecumenists from the five global Christian communions who have affirmed the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ). That landmark agreement was originally signed by leaders of the Catholic Church and The Lutheran World Federation in 1999 and has since been broadened to include the World Methodist Council, the Anglican Communion and the World Communion of Reformed Churches.
In the statement, participants say that their churches witness to the fact that through the JDDJ process “centuries-old controversies” are being overcome. They underline the urgency of bringing this witness of reconciliation to a “broken, divided and contentious world” and they pledge to “communicate this message to people of our time in meaningful and relevant ways through our common witness and service.”
An ecumenical appeal for the return of the mummified head of an 800-year-old body known as “The Crusader” has been made by the Anglican and Roman Catholic Archbishops of Dublin. The head was stolen during a raid on the crypt of St Michan’s Church in Dublin at the weekend. The crypt, a popular tourist attraction, contained other mummified remains, including the 400-year-old remains of a nun, which were also vandalised in the attack. Since news of the attack first broke earlier this week, it has emerged that the intruders also broke into the family vault of William Rowan Hamilton, the 19th-century mathematician whose studies paved the way for quantum theory and stole another skull.
Yesterday (Wednesday) the Church of Ireland and Roman Catholic Archbishops of Dublin, Michael Jackson and Diarmuid Martin, made a joint visit to the crypt to see the damage alongside Assistant Garda (police) Commissioner Pat Leahy. Afterwards, they issued a joint appeal for the return of the remains.
Thieves have stolen the head from an 800-year-old mummified body, known as “The Crusader” from the crypt of a church in the Irish capital Dublin. The vandals responsible also damaged other human remains in the attack on St Michan’s Church in Church Street, Dublin. The church is a popular tourist destination attracting visitors who come to see the mummified remains in the crypt. The vandalism was discovered shortly before lunchtime today (Monday) as volunteers were preparing to open the crypt for visitors.
In a statement, the Church of Ireland said that the body of The Crusader was overturned and its head taken. They say that the crypt was badly damaged and other remains, including the 400-year-old remains of a nun, were desecrated in the attack.
“I am shocked that someone would target this ancient burial place and desecrate the remains of those lying within it”, the Archbishop of Dublin, Michael Jackson, said. “Not only have these individuals desecrated the sacred crypt but they have destroyed these historic mummies which have been preserved in St Michan’s for hundreds of years.
“I would appeal to those responsible to examine their consciences and return the head of The Crusader to its rightful place.”
The Revd Canon Dr John Gibaut, currently Director of Unity, Faith and Order at the Anglican Communion Office, is to leave his current role to become President, Provost and Vice-Chancellor of Canada’s Thorneloe University. Dr Gibaut will take up his new role on 1 June, after the next meeting of the triennial Anglican Consultative Council in Hong Kong. Thorneloe University is a founding member of the Laurentian University Federation on the campus of Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada.
In his current role, Dr Gibaut has been the lead Anglican Communion staffer on ecumenical dialogues with other Church families. He has also been the lead advisor on theological issues and on inter-Anglican dialogue. He came to the Anglican Communion from the World Council of Churches, the international ecumenical organisation based in Geneva, Switzerland.
Prior to these two international appointments, Dr Gibaut was an administrator and professor in the Faculty of Theology at Saint Paul University, a bilingual institution federated with the University of Ottawa. From 1994 to 2003, he served as the faculty’s Director of Anglican Studies.
The Catholic bishops of England and Wales and Church of England bishops met in Leicester from 16 to 17 January for their biennial conference. Together 27 Catholic and 27 Anglican bishops explored a diverse range of subjects including opportunities for closer collaboration at a regional and national level. Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Archbishops Justin Welby and John Sentamu were present throughout. Cardinal Nichols and Archbishop Welby addressed the gathering.
Fifty bishops – 25 Anglicans and 25 Catholics – will convene in the British city next January 16-17. Rev Worthen told SIR: “Spirituality, theology and coexistence will be the ingredients of the meeting” that with a tight agenda: liturgy and debates with the spotlight on the Declaration “Walking Together On The Way.” Next January 16 and 17 fifty bishops, half of them Catholic and half of them Anglican, will convene in Leicester, central England, a city with an important tradition of interreligious dialogue, for a two-day ecumenical meeting.