May ~ 2023 ~ Anglican-Roman Catholic news & opinion
The Malines Conversations Group, an unofficial theological dialogue of Catholic and Anglican theologians, met in St Paul’s Bay, Malta, from 20 to 26 May 2023. This was the ninth meeting of the group, named in honour of the original Malines Conversations of the 1920s. These early informal conversations, held between a small group of British Anglicans and European Catholics, were made possible by the bonds of friendship between the members of the group. In that spirit, despite some disruption caused by COVID-19, the current Malines Conversations Group has been gathering annually, always in early spring, alternately in Anglican and Roman Catholic venues.
Archbishop Stephen Cottrell, the Archbishop of York in the Church of England, is leading a delegation on a visit to Rome from May 20-24. As part of their journey, they have visited the Basilicas of St Peters and St Paul Outside the Walls, where they spent time praying in the crypts. Prayer at the tombs of the apostles is a traditional focus of pilgrimage to Rome.
On Sunday, the delegation attended All Saints Anglican Church, an English parish in the heart of Rome where the Archbishop preached. He also preached at the Anglican Centre in Rome on Tuesday. Other visits will be to the Community of Sant’Egidio, a lay Roman Catholic association dedicated to social service; the Benedictine monastery of San Gregorio al Celio, in Rome, from which Pope St Gregory sent St Augustine to Canterbury; and the Venerable English College, a seminary training English and Welsh Roman Catholic priests.
The highlight of their trip was a private audience with Pope Francis in the Apostolic Palace. Archbishop Cottrell said that his audience with Pope Francis, at which he was accompanied by his chaplain, the Revd Dr Jenny Wright, and his wife, Rebecca, had “further consolidated the strong bonds of friendship between our two World Communions. We are now looking forward, for further cooperation between the Dicasteries of the Vatican and the Anglican Centre in Rome.” Archbishop Ian Ernest, director of the Anglican Centre in Rome and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s representative to the Holy See, accompanied them on their visit. The delegation was also accompanied by Cardinal Kurt Koch, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, and Revd Martin Browne OSB, the Dicastery official responsible for relations with Anglicans.
When King Charles III and his wife, Queen Consort Camila, are crowned on Saturday, the event will mark a historic juncture in Catholic-Anglican relations, as it will be the first time a Catholic bishop has participated in the ceremony in four centuries.
In a May 5 statement, the Archdiocese of Westminster in the UK, overseen by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, called Saturday’s coronation “an historic occasion for the nation, and also for the Catholic community.”
“For the first time in over 400 years, a Catholic Archbishop will take part in a Coronation in this country,” the statement said, referring to the fact that Nichols has not only been invited to attend the ceremony, but he will also give a blessing.
Other Catholic representatives at the coronation will be Vatican Secretary of State Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin and the newly-appointed apostolic nuncio to Great Britain, Spanish Archbishop Miguel Maury Buendía, as well as Archbishop Mark O’Toole of Cardiff, Bishop Hugh Gilbert of Aberdeen, Scotland, and the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, Eamon Martin.