Stories of archbishops of canterbury from the Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogues
In November 2015, at the opening service of the General Synod of the Church of England, we had the privilege of Father Raniero Cantalamessa, now a Cardinal, preaching at the main service in Westminster Abbey in front of the Queen and the General Synod. Memorably he described persecutors as the great ecumenists, for he said they do not ask when they kill us, are you Orthodox or Catholic or Anglican or Protestant or Pentecostal? They ask only are you Christian?
And the reality of the ecumenism of blood is felt on this day as we commemorate the modern martyrs. It reminds us, and I’m reminded too by a fellow bishop in the Church of England who is themselves from a family where there is a modern martyr, that ecumenism and solidarity are with the persecuted, for we are united to them by their blood. It is not just something we feel for the persecuted nor that we stand to the towards the persecuted. ‘With’ is the key word and if we are going to be with them, whether it is the 21 martyrs in Libya (and I still remember the horror of that news) or whether it is in Nigeria or so many other parts of the world, we are there to listen as well as to speak; more to listen; to be in solidarity with them.
In this Encyclical, Pope Francis sets out a clear, exciting and ambitious vision of the role of human friendship and solidarity as the basis for a better future world order.
Throughout this work, he interweaves the themes of the individual and the social, and stresses their necessary interdependence, rejecting the extremes both of individualism and of social collectivism as contrary to the true dignity and rights of all human beings. His is a true and clearly Christian voice of radical moderation, neither captured by the individualism of the culture nor a prisoner of the dreams of social collectivism.
Pope Francis recorded a video–message which was broadcast as part of the Pentecost service of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Right Reverend Justin Welby. The period between the feasts of the Ascension and Pentecost has traditionally been a time of prayer for Christian unity. Pentecost celebrates that moment when, by the power of the Holy Spirit, peoples of many different languages were united in hearing and accepting the first preaching of the resurrection of Jesus. In the southern hemisphere many countries keep these days as the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, and by promoting the Thy Kingdom Come movement, Archbishop Welby has made it a special time for Christians to unite in prayer for the evangelisation of the world. In the video–message Pope Francis prays that Christians “be more deeply united as witnesses of mercy for the human family” and warns, “We cannot ask others to be united if we ourselves take different paths.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Right Reverend Justin Welby led a retreat with Pope Francis in Casa Santa Marta this week (10-11 April) for the political leaders of South Sudan. The Reverend John Chalmers, former Moderator of the Church of Scotland was also in attendance. The ecumenical retreat was the fruit of an unprecedented collaborative effort by Lambeth Palace and the Secretariat of State.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has spoken of the danger that “fear of the other” poses to “Christian witness and presence”. Speaking to the General Assembly of the Conference of European Churches, meeting in Novi Sad, Serbia, he said that churches working together can help to break down the walls that others seek to build. “The Church breaks across boundaries and frontiers as if they did not exist,” he said. “By being in Christ, I am made one by God in a family that stretches around the world and crosses cultural, linguistic and ecumenical frontiers, driven by the Spirit who breaks down all the walls that we seek to erect.” He began his address by saying that “fear is the greatest danger that afflicts Christian witness and presence.” He added: “It is fear of the other that causes us to put up barriers, whether within churches, between churches and for that matter between nations. It is fear of the Other the causes us to build walls, whether spiritual or physical. It is fear of the Other that leads to divisions and eventually to the fall of civilisations.”
You might have heard the story about the German friar who nailed 95 provocative statements to a church door a long time ago, triggering something we now call the Reformation. If you’re looking for a modern interpretation, 500 years ago next Tuesday, Martin Luther posted a particularly incendiary series of tweets. He wanted to provoke debate about corruption in the Roman Catholic Church. He certainly achieved that. Sadly, Luther couldn’t take advantage of Twitter — and it’s generally accepted that he didn’t actually hammer his arguments to a church door. Instead he used the then cutting-edge technology of printing. But the impact was no less dramatic. What Luther wrote went around Europe incredibly quickly; it was the viral content of its day.
A call for Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops from around the world to work more closely together in witness and joint mission is part of the ongoing fruit of a unique eight-day gathering held earlier this fall in Canterbury and Rome, says Regina Archbishop Donald Bolen. “We were commissioned as pairs of bishops to go and work together, to witness together wherever possible, and to encourage our brother bishops to work together,” says Bolen, one of the bishops from around the world commissioned for the task by Pope Francis and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.
“The ongoing story is what the pairs of Anglican and Catholic bishops can do together across Canada, and across the world.” The purpose of the summit was to discover where Catholics and Anglicans can give greater witness to their common faith and collaborate in mission to the world, based on 50 years of dialogue and the agreed statements of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) and the IARCCUM document, “Growing Together in Unity and Mission.”
The appointment has been announced today of the Revd Dr Will Adam as the Archbishop’s Ecumenical Adviser. As well as these duties, the role includes being Ecumenical Officer at the Council of Christian Unity (CCU). This post will build on the creative joint working that has been established between Lambeth Palace and CCU to further the ecumenical ministry of the Archbishop. Archbishop Justin Welby said: “I am delighted that Will Adam will be bringing his considerable experience and expertise to this post. His understanding of both national and international ecumenism will be a real asset to the work at Lambeth and at CCU. There are wonderful opportunities in ecumenism in these times, and we must always strive to be obedient to Jesus’ desire that his Church ‘may be one’.”
If Christians are called to live their faith concretely, then they cannot leave out concrete signs of the unity to which Jesus calls them. And just because the formal Anglican-Roman Catholic theological dialogue has been forced to grapple with new church-dividing attitudes toward issues such as the ordination of women and the blessing of same-sex marriages, it does not mean that common prayer led by Anglican and Catholic leaders and concrete collaboration by Catholic and Anglican parishes are simply window dressing.
Dozens of Catholic and Anglican bishops and several hundred priests and laity from both communities gathered in Rome in early October to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Vatican meeting of Blessed Paul VI and Anglican Archbishop Michael Ramsey of Canterbury, almost 50 years of formal theological dialogue through the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (known as ARCIC) and the 50th anniversary of the Anglican Centre in Rome.
The celebrations, highlighted by an ecumenical evening prayer service Oct. 5 with Pope Francis and Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, coincided with a meeting of a newer body, the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission, known as IARCCUM.
Pope Francis has this morning (Thursday) held a meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury and other Anglican Primates and bishops at the Vatican. The Pope told them that ecumenism was “never an impoverishment, but a richness” and he said that during the past 50-years of closer relationship between Anglicans and Catholics, “the certainty has deepened that what the Spirit has sown in the other yields a common harvest.” And he urged them: “Let us never grow tired of asking the Lord together and insistently for the gift of unity.” Addressing the Anglican leaders as “dear brothers and sisters in Christ”, he described the gathering as “a beautiful sign of fraternity”. And he described the historic meeting 50 years ago between Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey – the first public meeting between a Pope and an Archbishop of Canterbury since the Reformation – as producing “many fruits.”
Pope Francis presides at the celebration of Vespers with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the meeting between Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey, and the institution of the Anglican Center in Rome.
Archbishop Justin took the pectoral cross from round his neck and presented it to Pope Francis during vespers at San Gregorio al Celio in Rome, which they led jointly. The Pope put then put the cross round his neck.
The Pope gave to Archbishop Justin a replica of the pastoral staff of Pope St Gregory.
The Archbishop arrived in Rome last night to join in celebrations to mark 50 years of closer and deeper relationships between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church. He will meet formally with the Pope tomorrow, their third such meeting.
Before its journey to Rome, Archbishop Justin blessed the Cross of Nails at a service in Lambeth Palace Chapel, during which Lambeth Palace became the 200th Partner of the Community of the Cross of Nails, an international network in 35 countries, which arose out of the vision of the former Provost of Coventry Cathedral, Richard Howard, who made a commitment to forgiveness and reconciliation following the destruction of the cathedral in 1940.
The ordination of women and “more recent questions regarding human sexuality” are serious obstacles in the path to unity between Anglicans and Roman Catholics; but they “cannot prevent us from recognising one another as brothers and sisters in Christ”, Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said in a Common Declaration. Speaking of the meeting between Pope Paul VI and Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey in 1966 – the first such public meeting of a Pope and Archbishop of Canterbury since the Reformation – and their Common Declaration, Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby said that their predecessors had “recognised the ‘serious obstacles’ that stood in the way of a restoration of complete faith and sacramental life between us. Nevertheless, they set out undeterred, not knowing what steps could be taken along the way, but in fidelity to the Lord’s prayer that his disciples be one.
“Much progress has been made concerning many areas that have kept us apart. Yet new circumstances have presented new disagreements among us, particularly regarding the ordination of women and more recent questions regarding human sexuality. Behind these differences lies a perennial question about how authority is exercised in the Christian community. These are today some of the concerns that constitute serious obstacles to our full unity. While, like our predecessors, we ourselves do not yet see solutions to the obstacles before us, we are undeterred. In our trust and joy in the Holy Spirit we are confident that dialogue and engagement with one another will deepen our understanding and help us to discern the mind of Christ for his Church. We trust in God’s grace and providence, knowing that the Holy Spirit will open new doors and lead us into all truth.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew joined Pope Francis in Assisi yesterday (Tuesday) to lead an assembly of religious leaders in prayers for peace. More than 500 Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, Jain, Shinto and Zoroastrian leaders from around the world had gathered in the birthplace of St Francis for the World Day of Prayer for Peace event, which attracted around 12,000 participants. The Pope, Patriarch and Archbishop each gave a meditation on the theme of peace during an ecumenical prayer service to close the three-day prayer gathering, which had been organised by the Community of Sant’Egidio. This week’s event came on the 30th anniversary of the First World Day of Prayer for Peace, which the then-Pope, John Paul II, convened in 1986.
On December 2nd, 55 years ago, Pope John XXIII had a private audience with the Archbishop of Canterbury Geoffrey Fisher, the first time that Anglican and Catholic leaders had met together since the Reformation. Following their historic encounter, the archbishop met with Cardinal Augustin Bea, head of the newly established Secretariat for Christian Unity, leading to the invitation of Anglican observers to the Second Vatican Council. The meeting also paved the way for the first official encounter between their successors, Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey in March 1966 and the establishment of an Anglican Centre here in Rome.
The Archbishop of Canterbury today wrote to all 37 Primates inviting them to attend a special Primates’ gathering in Canterbury to reflect and pray together concerning the future of the Communion. The meeting, to be held in January 2016, would be an opportunity for Primates to discuss key issues face to face, including a review of the structures of the Anglican Communion and to decide together their approach to the next Lambeth Conference. The agenda will be set by common agreement with all Primates encouraged to send in contributions. It is likely to include the issues of religiously-motivated violence, the protection of children and vulnerable adults, the environment and human sexuality. Archbishop Justin Welby said: “I have suggested to all Primates’ that we need to consider recent developments but also look afresh at our ways of working as a Communion and especially as Primates, paying proper attention to developments in the past.”
In his Presidential address to the General Synod today, Archbishop Justin spoke about the issues faced by the Anglican Communion and possible ways forward. “During the last eighteen months or so I have had the opportunity to visit thirty-six other Primates of the Anglican Communion at various points. This has involved a total of 14 trips lasting 96 days in all. I incidentally calculated that it involves more than eleven days actually sitting in aeroplanes. This seemed to be a good moment therefore to speak a little about the state of the Communion and to look honestly at some of the issues that are faced and the possible ways forward.”
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has written to ecumenical partners about the Church of England General Synod’s decision to allow women to become bishops, emphasizing that churches “need each other.”
In their second meeting within eighteen months Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin Welby today recommitted themselves resolutely to the struggle against modern slavery and human trafficking.
Following their first meeting last year the two global leaders have continually spoken out to challenge this crime against humanity, and have acted decisively to support the foundation of the new faith based global freedom network. They both endorsed this network as a crucial force in the struggle to rid the world of a global evil.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Pope Francis have given their backing to a ground-breaking ecumenical initiative to combat modern slavery and human trafficking. The agreement to help eradicate an injustice affecting up to 29 million people was co-signed on March 17th by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the Holy See, Archbishop Sir David Moxon; the Chancellor of the Pontifical Academies of Science and Social Science, Bishop Sanchez Sorondo; Dr Mahmoud Azab on behalf of the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Egypt; and Mr Andrew Forrest, the founder of the large international philanthropic anti-slavery organisation from Perth, Western Australia “Walk Free”.