Anglicans and Roman Catholics sent on the same missionary path

1 February 2024 • Persistent link:

Le texte français est ci-dessous

Last week I had the privilege of participating in a summit of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission. IARCCUM’s mandate is to help give tangible expression to the formal agreements reached between our two communions of churches over the past 60 years. Even with so much theological consensus on so many things, there is still so much more that Anglicans and Catholics can and should be doing together.

In that spirit, 50 bishops from 27 countries where Catholics and Anglicans live side by side in significant numbers spent a week gathered in Rome and then Canterbury on an ecumenical pilgrimage of common prayer, relationship building, discussion, and discernment about how we can be better witnesses of reconciliation in our own lands and in the world.

Working together

IARCCUM’s co-chairs are (Anglican) Bishop David Hamid and (Roman Catholic) Archbishop Don Bolen. They’ve been a part of this journey since IARCCUM first started taking shape at an historic meeting of Anglican and Roman Catholic leaders in Mississauga, Ontario, in 2000.

IARCCUM bishops work in pairs – an Anglican and a Catholic bishop from each country represented. My Canadian Catholic “twin” is Bishop Martin Laliberté of Trois-Rivières. He’s also currently the president of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Quebec/Assemblée des évêques catholiques du Québec. Bishop Martin and I have known each other since 2019 when he served as an auxiliary bishop in Quebec City. We got to know each other better still over the course of the week, and discussed ways Anglicans and Catholics in Quebec and the rest of Canada might work more closely together.

Each pair of bishops was invited to briefly share a snapshot of the context of their ministries. Bishop Martin and I explained some of the challenges and opportunities of being the church in a sometimes aggressively secular age – something we were reminded is not unique to Quebec or Canada. We also shared our churches’ involvement in the residential schools system, and our attempts to be reconciled with Indigenous peoples.

Several bishops serve in lands where war, violence, and suffering are a part of daily life. Bishop Tombe Terrly Kuku Andli (Catholic, Sudan), Archbishop Samuel Peni (Anglican, South Sudan), and Bishop Alex Lodiong Sakor Eyobo (Catholic, South Sudan) explained that their countries have been enduring civil unrest for most of their lives. Civil war has actually drawn Anglicans and Catholics closer together, they said, and the churches are sometimes called upon to act as mediators in the midst of armed conflict.

Bishop Matthias Der (Anglican) and Cardinal Stephen Chow (Catholic) serve in Hong Kong, which they described as a polarized, divided, and despairing city. More than 300,000 people, most of them in their 30s, have left Hong Kong in recent years because of COVID restrictions, a weak economy, and a febrile political situation. In the midst of it all, Catholics and Anglicans work in partnership, running about half of Hong Kong’s schools and many of the city’s social services.

Bishop Rafic Nahara (Catholic) and Archbishop Hosam Naoum (Anglican) both serve communities currently touched by the war between Israel and Hamas, and shared the challenges the church in the Middle East faces in trying to be a witness for peace in a deeply polarized land and situation.

The two bishops from Brazil, Bishop Teodoro Mendes Tavares (Catholic) and Bishop Marinez Bassotto (Anglican), serve side by side in the country’s ecologically rich yet fragile Amazonia region. They shared how Catholics and Anglicans work together in solidarity with Indigenous people in their bid to limit exploitative resource extraction and the effects of climate change in a region whose vast rainforests are known as the “lungs of the earth.”

For the first time, IARCCUM was enriched by the presence of female bishops, who were full and welcome participants in the summit’s life and work. Sally Sue Hernández (left) is the Anglican Bishop of Mexico City and Marinez Bassotto is the Bishop of the Amazon and Primate of the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil.

While new friendships were forged at this summit, existing ones were renewed and strengthened. It was a joy to be reunited with my friend Hosam Naoum. We first met in 2004 when he was a newly ordained priest leading a Palestinian Anglican youth group on a visit to Canada, and I was a newly ordained deacon assigned to accompany them on their 24-hour stay in Quebec City. Hosam now serves as the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem and as Primate of the Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East, and his church is being sorely tested by the war currently raging between Israel and Hamas.

In Rome and Canterbury

Among the many moments of prayer we shared together that week was an Anglican-led service of choral evensong in Chapel of the Choir of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. It included the participation of the choirs of Rome’s two Anglican congregations.

On the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul we gathered with a congregation of 2,500 at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls in Rome to mark the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. At that service, the IARCCUM bishops were also commissioned, two by two, by Pope Francis and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, with these words: “May your ministry alongside one another as Catholics and Anglicans be for the world a foretaste of the reconciling of all Christians in the unity of the one and only Church of Christ for which we pray this day.”

From Rome we moved to Canterbury, where (among other things) we engaged in fruitful roundtable discussions about how we can live up to our commission and put our common faith as Anglicans and Catholics into concrete form back home.

In Canterbury, I was honoured to be invited to preach at Saint Thomas of Canterbury Catholic Church. The gospel was about Jesus teaching “with authority” in a synagogue and then healing someone possessed by an unclean spirit. I suggested that authority, as modelled by Jesus, and the work of Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue share at least one thing in common: they do not end in affirming words, but are expressed in love and in concrete action. The Mass was presided over by Roman Catholic Archbishop Christopher Cardone, who serves on the Solomon Islands. He graciously invited me to join him in offering the final blessing.

One of the realities of the real-but-imperfect communion Anglicans and Catholics share is that we cannot yet share in the eucharist together. So at Catholic celebrations of the eucharist, Anglican participants came forward to receive an individual blessing, and vice-versa when it was an Anglican-led eucharist. As we stated in the document issued after the summit’s conclusion, “The act of approaching the altar for a blessing when we could not receive the eucharist, though marked by sadness, was for many of us a moving experience of spiritual communion, and a further impetus to continue this journey so that we might one day break bread together around the same altar.”

During a final celebration together at Canterbury Cathedral, we were sent forth as IARCCUM bishops to “be true pilgrim companions to one another in this missionary journey.” Cardinal Stephen Chow of Hong Kong preached the sermon, during which he reflected, “We Anglicans and Roman Catholics are called to be Jesus’ partners, individually and collectively. The twelve apostles and disciples were not called to form camps, working for their own missions, or competing against each other. They were called to become an assembly, a community, a communion, a synodal koinonia, praying and discerning, teaching and serving for the mission of our Triune God.”

You can read about everything we have done and about our expectations for the future, in this statement that we issued at the conclusion of our summit: The IARCCUM Bishops’ Call: Our Common Witness, Calling and Commitment

Anglicans et catholiques, envoyés sur le même chemin missionnaire

Mgr Bruce Myers, o.g.s., évêque du diocèse anglican de Québec, raconte son expérience lors du sommet « Grandir ensemble » de la Commission internationale anglico-catholique romaine pour l’unité et la mission, qui a eu lieu du 22 au 29 janvier 2024, à Rome et à Carterbury.

La semaine dernière, j’ai eu le privilège de participer au sommet de la Commission internationale anglico-catholique romaine pour l’unité et la mission (ndlr: **IARCCUM en anglais). Le mandat de l’IARCCUM est celui d’aider à donner une expression tangible aux accords formels conclus entre nos deux communions ecclésiales au cours des derniers 60 ans. Même avec un si large consensus théologique sur tellement de points, il y a encore beaucoup de choses que les anglicans et les catholiques peuvent faire et devraient être en train de faire ensemble.

Dans cet esprit 50 évêques de 27 pays où catholiques et anglicans habitent côte à côte en grand nombre, ont vécu une semaine ensemble réunis à Rome et puis à Canterbury, un pèlerinage œcuménique de prière commune, de création de liens, de discussion, et de discernement sur comment être de meilleurs témoins de réconciliation dans nos propres pays et dans le monde.

Travailler ensemble

Les évêques de l’IARCCUM travaillent par équipe de deux — un évêque anglican et un autre catholique, représentant leur pays. Mon « jumeau » catholique canadien est Mgr Martin Laliberté, du diocèse de Trois-Rivières (ndlr: et évêque ponens des OPM au Canada francophone). Il est également président de l’Assemblée des évêques catholiques du Québec.

Mgr Martin et moi nous connaissons depuis 2019, depuis qu’il était évêque auxiliaire de l’archidiocèse de Québec. Tout au long de cette semaine [passé ensemble], nous avons eu la chance de se connaître davantage et nous avons également discuté sur les façons dont les anglicans et les catholiques pourraient s’approcher un peu plus pour travailler ensemble au Québec et dans le reste du Canada.

Chaque équipe d’évêques était invitée à partager un brève aperçu du contexte dans lequel ils exercent leur ministère. Mgr Martin et moi avons présenté quelques-uns des défis et des opportunités qui viennent du fait de faire Église dans une époque séculière, parfois de manière agressive — une chose qui, nous l’avons appris, n’est pas propre qu’au Québec ou le Canada. Nous avons aussi partagé sur l’implication de nos Églises dans le système d’écoles résidentielles, ainsi que nos efforts de réconciliation avec les peuples autochtones.

À Rome et à Canterbury

Lors de la Fête de la conversion de saint Paul, nous étions 2500 personnes réunis à la basilique de Saint-Paul-Hors-les-Murs, à Rome, pour marquer la Semaine de prière pour l’unité des chrétiens. Lors de cette cérémonie, les évêques de l’IARCCUM ont été envoyés, deux par deux, par le pape François et l’évêque de Canterbury Justin Welby, avec ces mots: « Que votre ministère l’un à côté de l’autre en tant que catholiques et anglicans, soit pour le monde un avant-goût de la réconciliation de tous les chrétiens dans l’unité de la seule et unique Église du Christ pour laquelle nous prions aujourd’hui. »

À Canterbury, j’ai eu l’honneur d’être invité à prêcher à l’église catholique de Saint Thomas of Canterbury. L’Évangile portait sur Jésus qui prêchait « avec autorité » dans une synagogue et qui avait guérit quelqu’un ayant un esprit impure. J’ai suggéré que l’autorité — dont le modèle de celle-ci est Jésus — et le travail du dialogue anglico-catholique ont au moins une chose en commun: ils ne se terminent pas par des paroles d’affirmation, mais sont exprimés dans l’amour et par une action concrète.

Lors d’une dernière célébration à la cathédrale de Canterbury, nous avons été envoyés en tant qu’évêques de l’IARCCUM afin d’être « de vrai compagnons de pèlerinage les uns pour les autres sur ce chemin missionnaire. »

Vous pouvez lire sur tout ce que nous avons fait ainsi que sur nos espérances que nous portons pour l’avenir, dans cette déclaration que nous avons publiée à la conclusion de notre sommet: Déclaration (en anglais)

Traduction: José I. Sierra, Œuvres pontificales missionnaires