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Malines Conversations in Madeira

26 May 2022 • Persistent link: iarccum.org/?p=4177

by Bishop David Hamid, Eurobishop

In 1889 an English aristocrat, Viscount Halifax (Charles Lindley Wood) and a French Roman Catholic priest, Abbé Fernand Portal, met on the beautiful island of Madeira. A friendship began that led to the Malines Conversations of the 1920s which were the precursor of the modern bilateral dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion, which now has two official commissions, ARCIC and IARCCUM.

The Malines Conversations continue in a modern form today as a theological working group, supporting the official dialogues through exploring ways to address some vital points which may still hinder our journey towards the unity to which we are committed as Anglicans and Catholics. Last December we published Sorores in Spe an evaluation of Apostolicae Curae, Pope Leo XIII’s negative judgement on Anglican Orders dating from 1896.

A recent session of the Malines Conversations were held in Madeira, returning to the place where one could say that the journey towards the restoration of full communion between Anglicans and Roman Catholics began. It was in many ways a pilgrimage to the roots of our dialogue.

The Anglican Chaplain of Holy Trinity Funchal, the Revd Michael Jarman, and the Bishop of Funchal, Dom Nuno Brás da Silva Martins, both played their part in hosting the dialogue group. On Sunday 15 May, the Revd Fr Thomas Pott delivered the sermon at the Anglican Eucharist in Funchal, and Dom Nuno later in the week presided at an ecumenical service at which I preached, and hosted the group for a reception and dinner. Ecumenical relations between Anglicans and Roman Catholics in Madeira are very good indeed. It was wonderful that Fr Michael and his parishioners at Holy Trinity could host the group at their Sunday mass; it is quite likely that Viscount Halifax worshipped at Holy Trinity in the late 19th century.