Catholic, Anglican bishops vow to support one another, work together

2 February 2024 • Persistent link:

As Catholics and Anglicans pray and work for the day when they can celebrate the Eucharist together, they are called to support one another in situations of suffering, apologize together for times when they have sinned and work together to share the good news of God’s love, said bishops from both communities.

Pairs of Catholic and Anglican bishops from 27 nations traveled to Rome Jan. 22-25 and to Canterbury, England, Jan. 26-29 for prayer, discussion and a commissioning by Pope Francis and Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury.

The pilgrimage was organized by the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission, a body established in 2001 to promote common prayer and joint projects to demonstrate concretely how the theological agreements the churches have made also have practical implications in witnessing together to the Christian faith.

A final statement drafted by participants was posted Feb. 1 [at] and on the websites of the Anglican Communion and the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity.

During the journey, the statement said, “we listened to the testimony of some of our bishops who minister courageously in circumstances of violence, acute suffering, oppression and warfare. In a world so scarred and wounded, we hear in many places of a suffering church and the call for all of us to be united in prayer.”

“The vocation of the Church is both to love and to witness to the love of God in the face of suffering,” the statement said.

The pilgrimage was a time for Anglican and Catholic bishops to draw closer in faith and in friendship, they said. “Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we have been walking the road together with Christ in our midst. Because we recognize one Lord, we recognize one another as his disciples, and are strengthened for the journey ahead. Bonds of trust are being forged, challenging preconceived notions, and allowing us to speak to each other with the frankness that friendship allows.”

The bishops shared prayer and attended each other’s celebrations of the Eucharist; the Catholic bishops received a blessing during Communion time at the Anglican service and the Anglican bishops went up for a blessing during Communion at the Catholic Masses.

“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,” the statement said.

The Catholic and Anglican bishops also shared stories about the struggles of members of their flocks, including because of clergy sexual abuse or the past cooperation of the churches with people and powers that oppressed them.

“As we have shared the challenges and hopes of our peoples in different parts of the world,” they wrote, “we have heard how in many places Indigenous peoples, descendants of enslaved persons and others live with the legacy of colonization and assimilation.”

“We have heard the call to repent of our participation in efforts of colonization, and to commit ourselves to new ways of walking together and to stand in solidarity with those marked by this painful legacy,” they said.

On the issue of sexual abuse, they said, “We have been encouraged to be less concerned with the reputation of our churches and to give primary importance to accompanying those who have been deeply wounded by members of our churches.”