2021 ~ Anglican-Roman Catholic news & opinion
The symposium “The Malines Conversations 100 Years On” was held at the Embassy of the Kingdom of Belgium to the Holy See on 11 June 2021, co–hosted by the Belgian and British Ambassadors to the Holy See, Patrick Renault and Sally Axworthy, respectively, to mark the 100th anniversary to be celebrated in Malines later in the year.
In his opening speech at the first Malines Conversations, on the 6th of December 1921, Cardinal Mercier shared that all of those present for the occasion, had agreed to seek the Lord and asked to make their souls live. He also invited those present to invoke the grace of the Holy Spirit. This moment of devotion needs to be valued as we celebrate the intentions of those who were willing to take the risks in uncharted territory they were called to enter. In my opinion, these conversations were built on the foundation of a spirit of faith.
The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission was, for the second consecutive year, unable to meet in plenary due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Instead, the Commission met in two webinars on 10 and 12 May in which they considered the forthcoming study document of the Faith and Order Commission, Churches and Moral Discernment: Facilitating Dialogue to Build Koinonia. This document was presented jointly by Professor Myriam Wijlens, Co-chair of the study group and consultant of ARCIC, and Dr David Kirchhoffer, the principal drafter of the text. Members considered how the work, and specifically the “Tool” for Moral Discernment developed in the document, could be integrated with ARCIC’s own work.
The Commission is currently examining the question of how the Church in communion discerns right ethical teaching and, in continuity with its previous agreed statement, Walking Together on the Way, is using Receptive Ecumenism to examine this question. The Commission decided to meet for two further webinars later in the year in which it will return to previous case studies presented in its Jerusalem 2019 plenary in the light of the work of the Faith and Order study.
The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity mourns the death on 10 April 2021 of Cardinal Edward Idris Cassidy, President of the Council from 1989–2001.
The term of office of Cardinal Cassidy was deeply inspired by the Encyclical Letter Ut unum sint (1995) of Pope John Paul II. Among many highlights, he promoted the resumption of the interrupted theological dialogue with the Orthodox Church, resulting in the publication of the Balamand Document (1993). He was also instrumental in the publication of the Common Christological Declaration (1994) between Pope John Paul II and Catholicos Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV of the Assyrian Church of the East, as well as the Christological declarations with the Armenian Catholicoi Karekin I (1996) and Aram I (1997). In 1999, on behalf of the Catholic Church, he signed the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification with the Lutheran World Federation. He also oversaw the publication of the updated Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism (1993) and of The Ecumenical Dimension in the Formation of Those Engaged in Pastoral Work (1997).
Cardinal Cassidy accompanied Pope John Paul II on many apostolic visits, among them the 1999 visit to Romania in which he met with Patriarch Teoctist of the Romanian Orthodox Church, to Mount Sinai in 2000, and in 2001 a Jubilee Pilgrimage “in the footsteps of Saint Paul” including historical visits to Athens and Damascus. In the last years of his presidency, Cardinal Cassidy was highly committed to the ecumenical dimension of the events of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000.
The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (1999) constitutes a major achievement in the search for Christian unity, effectively resolving one of the key theological conflicts of the Reformation. Initially an agreement signed by Lutherans and Catholics, it has since been joined and affirmed by three other Christian World Communions, namely the Methodist, Reformed churches and Anglicans.
In 2019, a first consultation between the five Communions on how the Joint Declaration affects their relationship was held in Notre Dame University (USA). The consultation gave rise to the Notre Dame Consultation Statement, a document affirming the substance of the Joint Declaration and recommending ways to deepen institutional relationships between the five Christian Communions. A Steering Committee composed of senior leadership of the five Christian Communions was set up to further promote the Joint Declaration in the life of the communions.
On Monday 15 February Pope Francis sent a video message (scroll down) for the “Day of Contemporary Martyrs” organized by the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of London on the occasion of the commemoration of the 21 Coptic martyrs executed on 15 February 2015.
The initiative gathered in a webinar His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, His Grace Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, His Eminence Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and His Eminence Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London, as well as other participants.
The “Day of Contemporary Martyrs” is a commemorative event of thanksgiving for the lives of those who faithfully practised their Christian faith till the shedding of their blood, offering at the same time the opportunity to raise awareness of the ongoing tragedy of those who are still today persecuted solely on the basis of faith or belief.
Bishop William Regis Fey, O.F.M. Cap., recently retired as the second bishop of the Diocese of Kimbe, Papua New Guinea, died late Tuesday night, January 19th, from Covid-related illness.
Bishop Fey was born in Pittsburgh on November 6, 1942, to Regis Fey and Dorothy (Clair) Fey, attending Middlesex Township Elementary School in Pittsburgh and St. Paul Grade School in Butler before enrolling at Saint Fidelis Seminary, Herman, for his high school and college education.
In November 2015, at the opening service of the General Synod of the Church of England, we had the privilege of Father Raniero Cantalamessa, now a Cardinal, preaching at the main service in Westminster Abbey in front of the Queen and the General Synod. Memorably he described persecutors as the great ecumenists, for he said they do not ask when they kill us, are you Orthodox or Catholic or Anglican or Protestant or Pentecostal? They ask only are you Christian?
And the reality of the ecumenism of blood is felt on this day as we commemorate the modern martyrs. It reminds us, and I’m reminded too by a fellow bishop in the Church of England who is themselves from a family where there is a modern martyr, that ecumenism and solidarity are with the persecuted, for we are united to them by their blood. It is not just something we feel for the persecuted nor that we stand to the towards the persecuted. ‘With’ is the key word and if we are going to be with them, whether it is the 21 martyrs in Libya (and I still remember the horror of that news) or whether it is in Nigeria or so many other parts of the world, we are there to listen as well as to speak; more to listen; to be in solidarity with them.