July ~ 2022 ~ Anglican-Roman Catholic news & opinion
They marched up the hill wearing vestments of all styles and colors and speaking an array of languages from around the world. They laughed, sang and danced as they climbed the bleachers and lined up in rows, from shortest to tallest. And then, after some final adjustments and one fainting spell, the last one took her seat and there they were: the bishops of the Anglican Communion.
The portrait of all 650+ bishops in attendance is a tradition dating back to the first Lambeth Conference in 1867. That first portrait, showing a small group of white men in black suits, is unrecognizable from the one taken on July 29 on an athletic field at the University of Kent, under a blazing sun.
From across the 165 countries of the Anglican Communion, bishops are gathering in Canterbury today to pray, study scripture, discuss global challenges and seek God’s direction for the decade ahead.
The Lambeth Conference 2022, which runs until August 7, is only the 15th such global gathering of Anglican bishops in 155 years.
The event was postponed from 2020 because of the Covid 19 pandemic and takes place against a backdrop of global uncertainty – including the climate emergency, war and poverty.
Taking as their theme “God’s Church for God’s World”, the bishops will spend time praying and studying the Bible together (focussing on the book of 1 Peter) as well as discussing major challenges faced by their global communities – ranging from climate change and scientific progress to Christian Unity and inter-faith relations.
Churches from the global Anglican Communion will be formally represented on the body which nominates future Archbishops of Canterbury.
Until now the wider worldwide Anglican Communion, outside of England, has been represented by just one of the 16 members of the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) for the See of Canterbury.
But under changes to the Standing Orders of the General Synod formally approved today, there will now be five representatives of other churches of the Anglican Communion – one each from Africa; the Americas; Middle East and Asia; Oceania and Europe.
The new rules will also ensure the inclusion of laity and clergy as well as bishops; a balance of men and women and that at least half of the five will be of Global Majority Heritage.
All diocesan bishops of the Church of England, including the archbishops, are appointed by Her Majesty the Queen following a nomination by the Crown Nominations Commission for the see.
Anglicans have an indispensable role to play as Roman Catholics start a two-year conversation on how to become a more “synodal” church, Pope Francis said at his first meeting with Archbishop Linda Nicholls, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.
Nicholls met the pope at the latest meeting of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), which took place in May at the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace in Rome. Due to the absence of Philip Freier, archbishop of Melbourne and Anglican co-chair of ARCIC who was attending the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia, the primate spoke on behalf of the Anglican side of the dialogue. Nicholls presented a formal statement on ARCIC from the Anglican perspective. ARCIC’s other co-chair, Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham, England, spoke on behalf of Roman Catholics.
“It was really very lovely,” the primate said of her meeting with Francis. “The pope is a very warm and gracious man who really pays attention to the people he’s with and gives you his full attention while you’re there.”