Living Church Foundation’s Christopher Wells to be Anglican Director of Unity, Faith & Order

The Executive Director of the Living Church Foundation, Dr Christopher Wells, has been named as the next Director of Unity, Faith and Order for the Anglican Communion. Dr Wells will succeed the Venerable Dr William Adam, who was installed as Archdeacon of Canterbury last month.

As Director of Unity Faith and Order, Christopher Wells will lead and support the work of the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) – the international body that advises provinces, the Secretary General and the Instruments of Communion on ecumenical relations and doctrine. He will also serve as the lead staff member for Anglican Communion delegations to official international ecumenical dialogues.

Dr Wells has served as Executive Director of the Living Church Foundation since 2009. The foundation is an American-based non-profit charitable organisation governed by members of the US-based Episcopal Church and the wider Anglican Communion. It champions “the catholic and evangelical faith of the one Church and to hasten the visible unity of all Christians.” It publishes The Living Church magazine, which has been in continuous publication since 1878 and various other print and online resources.

In addition to his work with the Living Church Foundation, Dr Wells has served on the Communion across Difference Task Force for The Episcopal Church, is Theological Consultant to the Anglican-Roman Catholic Consultation in the US, and has been a member of the steering team of the Communion Partners since 2017. He is Affiliate Professor of Historical Theology at Nashotah House Theological Seminary, and regularly teaches on Thomas Aquinas and ecclesiology, including a course at the Anglican Centre in Rome, entitled “Christian Unity in Rome: Anglican Ecclesiology and Ecumenism.”

Commenting on his appointment, Dr Wells said: “It is an honour to be called to this important work, which will of course be undertaken as a team, and I very much look forward to working with and supporting Bishop Anthony, IASCUFO, the ACC, and colleagues at Lambeth Palace, as well our ecumenical partners and friends.

“The call to truth and unity in God’s Church, as Archbishop Justin has emphasised, is holy work, since it follows from God’s own gift and also leaves more for us to do.

Anglicans have long said that we are called to full visible unity, both with one another and all Christians and churches. We are not entirely of one mind as Anglicans, and we need to work to deepen our communion, while duly marking places of disagreement and impairment. I pray that God will give us all patience and generosity, and love, as an Anglican family, to recommit to walking together to the highest degree and greatest extent that we can.”

Welcoming his appointment, the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, the Most Revd Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, said: “Christopher Wells is a person with significant theological knowledge and extensive connections throughout the Anglican Communion. He will bring great gifts to this important role as director of Unity, Faith and Order.”

Dr Idowu-Fearon steps down at the end of this month and will be succeeded as Secretary General by Bishop Anthony Poggo. “Dr Christopher Wells has substantial experience within and throughout the Communion and significant knowledge of Anglicanism and in working to bring people together despite theological differences,” Bishop Poggo said. “He brings wide experience having served as theological consultant to the Anglican-Roman Catholic Consultation in the US (ARC-USA), as a member of the Communion Partners Steering Team and as a board member of the American Friends of the Anglican Centre in Rome.

“Christopher has built relationships across the Communion through his role as Executive Director of Living Church Foundation. This will all be useful in his new role.

“I look forward to working with him as we both embark together on the next chapters of our ministry in the Anglican Communion.”

The Chair of IASCUFO, the Right Revd Graham Tomlin, Bishop of Kensington, said: “I am delighted at the appointment of Christopher Wells as the new Director of Unity, Faith and Order. He brings deep theological wisdom, as well as a wealth of experience both within the Anglican Communion and in ecumenical discussions and an ability to work with a wide range of people across the Anglican Communion.”

Dr Christopher Wells will take up his new role in the coming months.

Churches must overcome divisions to achieve common witness, cardinal tells Anglicans

“Never to accept a whole Church decision as binding on all – that is where we have a problem.”

The Vatican’s lead cardinal for promoting Christian unity has warned of an “ecumenical emergency” which undermines evangelisation, unless Churches can find a common purpose in the ecumenical movement.

Cardinal Kurt Koch, the prefect of the dicastery for promoting Christian unity, said in a message to the Anglican bishops attending the Lambeth Conference that a “common ecumenical witness to Jesus Christ in the present world is only possible when Christian churches overcome their divisions”.

He said that there were different visions of ecumenism, from Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox perspectives, so “asking questions about the goal of the ecumenical movement, and consequently of a more precise understanding of Church unity cannot simply be done in an abstract way”. Instead, “this questioning is always directed and informed by prior ecclesial decisions of a confessional nature”.

“This means that the still largely lacking agreement on the goal of the ecumenical movement is rooted in a still largely lacking ecumenical agreement on the nature of the Church and its unity.” This means, he continued, that “there are basically as many ecumenical goals as there are confessional ecclesiologies”.

Read the complete article at The Tablet

Cardinal Koch was unable to travel to the conference due to illness, so his address was read out by Fr Anthony Currer, the dicastery official responsible for relations with Anglicans. He prefaced the cardinal’s words with a twofold apology for the absence of three of the six Catholic delegates to the conference due to illness and visa problems, and for the Church’s historic reluctance to participate in ecumenical discussion.

He said that the anniversary of the “Appeal to All Christian People” from the 1920 Lambeth Conference “seems an appropriate moment to say we are sorry for being so late to join the ecumenical movement but we thank you for showing us the way”.

Speaking afterwards, Fr Currer told The Tablet that it was valuable to “live alongside” the Anglican Communion at the conference, but said that the Catholic delegation was somewhat “uncomfortable” with the repeated emphasis on the conference’s lack of authority.

He said that it should not necessarily exert authority very often, a true consensus at a conference of bishops ought to have doctrinal effect: “Never to accept a whole Church decision as binding on all – that is where we have a problem.”

There were, however, important lessons the Catholic Church could learn from the Anglican Communion in the sacramental role of bishops, as expressions of the Church in their own diocese.

Cardinal Koch’s address was part of a plenary session including contributions from Lutheran, Orthodox and Pentecostal delegates. The Anglican Bishop of Amazonia, Marinez Bassotto, said that Church unity “cannot be carried out without a respect for plurality”, while the general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, Anne Burghardt, said that she was “not afraid of pluralism and postmodernism”.

After the plenary, Anglican bishops endorsed the conference’s “Call on Church Unity”, which committed to “an urgent search for the full visible unity of the Church”.

The Archbishop of Birmingham, Bernard Longley, who is co-chair of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, said that ecumenical delegates recognised the generosity of the call “in particular in its recognition of the fruitfulness of the signs of the life of the Church present in other Christian denominations”.

He said that the past 50 years had seen a shift in ecumenical dialogues from the “face-to-face” to the “side-by-side”, so that rather than discussing doctrinal matters exclusively the Churches also found common cause in mission and discipleship, justice and peace, and in the protection of the environment.

Anglican bishops from around the world gather for the 15th Lambeth Conference

From across the 165 countries of the Anglican Communion, bishops are gathering in Canterbury today to pray, study scripture, discuss global challenges and seek God’s direction for the decade ahead.

The Lambeth Conference 2022, which runs until August 7, is only the 15th such global gathering of Anglican bishops in 155 years.

The event was postponed from 2020 because of the Covid 19 pandemic and takes place against a backdrop of global uncertainty – including the climate emergency, war and poverty.

Taking as their theme “God’s Church for God’s World”, the bishops will spend time praying and studying the Bible together (focussing on the book of 1 Peter) as well as discussing major challenges faced by their global communities – ranging from climate change and scientific progress to Christian Unity and inter-faith relations.

In a letter to delegates the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, described the conference as a “historic occasion” and spoke of Jesus’ call for his followers to be united.

He wrote: “Two years ago, we could hardly have believed the course of world events that was about to unfold with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This, along with the ongoing challenges like the climate emergency, war and conflict in many countries and the huge inequalities of our world, continue to have a deep: impact on us all.

“As we gather for the 15th Lambeth Conference, the privilege and responsibility of meeting feels even more significant.

“The business of this conference is to discern the Holy Spirit’s directing in what it means to be ‘God’s Church for God’s World’, as we seek to ‘walk, listen and witness together.’

“We are living at a time where there is much to fragment and divide the world – but Christ calls his Church to be one in witness and in worship so that Jesus is presented to the world.”

He went on to describe how 1 Peter sets out how the early Christian Church faced “suffering, despair, joy, exile and alienation” adding: “As we embark upon our journey together in 2022, we pray for God’s Holy Spirit to guide us, as we seek God’s will for the global witness of the Anglican Communion in the decade ahead.”

In his foreword to the Conference guide, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, wrote: “The drumbeat to our conference is ‘walking, listening and witnessing together’.

“These words reflect perhaps Christ’s greatest challenge to the Church: To be one. To live as a united body, in service to Christ and to one another.

“As we gather in 2022, may we commit ourselves to this significant moment as an opportunity to listen to one another, learn from the diversity of our communities and church experiences and seek to serve one another.”

The postponement in 2020 enabled the Conference plans to be redesigned as a three-phase process, designed to create lasting outcomes, both for the churches of the Communion and for the communities they serve.

The period since 2020 has been a time of “walking together” when bishops have been meeting together for online conversations about themes relevant to the Conference.

The phase of “listening together” is the full event in Canterbury beginning this week beginning this week. For the first time there will also be a further phase of “witnessing together” – when outcomes from the bishop’s conversations are shared, and further action taken around the Anglican Communion.

Global Anglican Communion given greater voice in choosing future Archbishops of Canterbury

Churches from the global Anglican Communion will be formally represented on the body which nominates future Archbishops of Canterbury.

Until now the wider worldwide Anglican Communion, outside of England, has been represented by just one of the 16 members of the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) for the See of Canterbury.

But under changes to the Standing Orders of the General Synod formally approved today, there will now be five representatives of other churches of the Anglican Communion – one each from Africa; the Americas; Middle East and Asia; Oceania and Europe.

The new rules will also ensure the inclusion of laity and clergy as well as bishops; a balance of men and women and that at least half of the five will be of Global Majority Heritage.

All diocesan bishops of the Church of England, including the archbishops, are appointed by Her Majesty the Queen following a nomination by the Crown Nominations Commission for the see.

Under the changes the Canterbury CNC will now have 17 voting members, with the number of representatives from the Diocese of Canterbury reducing from six to three.

Meanwhile the appointment process for the Bishop of Dover, the suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Canterbury, will be carried out by a CNC rather than being appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, as in the past.

The changes were agreed in principle through a series of motions passed at Synod and Saturday. New standing orders were then drafted and were approved in a further vote today.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: “From the richest to the poorest nations, the Anglican Communion spans a hugely diverse tapestry of societies, cultures and human experience.

“Anglicans worldwide have a profound and historic relationship with the See of Canterbury, and the Archbishop of Canterbury has the great privilege of serving as a focus of unity for Anglican churches across the globe.

“It is only right that this international family of churches is given a voice in the process of selecting the ‘first among equals’ of the bishops of our global communion.

“That is why I am pleased that General Synod has voted to increase the representation of Anglicans from around the Communion in the process of choosing future Archbishops of Canterbury.

“This small but important step will ensure that the Crown Nominations Commission for the See of Canterbury has balanced and diverse representation from the entire Anglican Communion.

“I also want to thank the Diocese of Canterbury for giving up three seats on the Canterbury CNC to enable this change.

“I pray that this significant step will bind us more closely together as disciples of Jesus Christ, called to share his good news with a world in need.”


More information

The motions earlier approved were:

The votes of the whole synod were counted as follows:

Canada’s Primate meets Pope Francis as Roman Catholics look to Anglican model of synod

Anglicans have an indispensable role to play as Roman Catholics start a two-year conversation on how to become a more “synodal” church, Pope Francis said at his first meeting with Archbishop Linda Nicholls, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.

Nicholls met the pope at the latest meeting of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), which took place in May at the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace in Rome. Due to the absence of Philip Freier, archbishop of Melbourne and Anglican co-chair of ARCIC who was attending the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia, the primate spoke on behalf of the Anglican side of the dialogue. Nicholls presented a formal statement on ARCIC from the Anglican perspective. ARCIC’s other co-chair, Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham, England, spoke on behalf of Roman Catholics.

“It was really very lovely,” the primate said of her meeting with Francis. “The pope is a very warm and gracious man who really pays attention to the people he’s with and gives you his full attention while you’re there.”

On May 13, Francis spoke to ARCIC and expressed his hope that Anglicans would contribute to a two-year process of preparation the Catholic Church is undertaking, leading up to a 2023 “Synod on Synodality” in Rome. While the Synod on Synodality itself is a conference that will include only bishops, the church hopes to have solicited input from all levels of the church during the preparation period, known as Synod 2021-2023.

The Synod 2021-2023 website describes a synod as “a gathering of the faithful in order to listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying to the Church and asking her to be and to do.” Francis in September 2021 described synod as “an exercise of mutual listening.” Nicholas Jesson, ecumenical and interfaith officer for the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Regina, likens synodality to “walking together” or being on a shared journey.

In the case of Anglicans and Roman Catholics, Jesson says, “We can speak of our two churches walking together. But we’re also synodically in the church talking about what does it mean… for the local church to be walking together with Indigenous people? What does it mean to be walking together with people on the margins or the peripheries, as Pope Francis speaks about it?”

“It’s more of a living and relational understanding of walking together and being together as Christians,” he adds. “To speak about synodal life is not to say what kind of structures [we have] or how do we vote on matters… It’s about how do we maintain that sense of relationship with one another— that we listen carefully to the different voices in our community, that we try to promote inclusivity, those sorts of things.”

As reported by the Catholic News Agency, Francis told ARCIC regarding the synodal process, “for this common journey to be truly such, the contribution of the Anglican Communion cannot be lacking. We look upon you as valued travelling companions.”

Nicholls told the Anglican Journal that in recent months, Roman Catholics have been asking many Anglicans—including herself; Faith, Worship, and Ministry director the Rev. Eileen Scully; and ecumenical and interfaith relations animator Canon Scott Sharman—to participate in seminars and webinars discussing their experience of synodality.

“I know that Roman Catholics at ARCIC are very excited about the potential this [synod] has for change in their church,” Nicholls said.

Discussions that have taken place, she said, suggest how Anglicans might contribute to a discussion on synodality.

Anglicans in dialogue with Roman Catholics have talked about “our experience of having laity and clergy and bishops in consultation together—and [about] the valued voice of laity in particular in those consultations, because the Holy Spirit is not the gift of just the bishops,” Nicholls said. “It is a gift by baptism to all Christians. They need to be part of the discernment, and that’s been true in Anglican circles for a couple of centuries.”

Nicholls was a participant in ARCIC discussions that led to the document Walking Together on the Way, published in 2018. The international study compared how authority was structured in the Anglican and Roman Catholic traditions, particularly in expressions of synodal governance, discernment and decision-making.

At the national level, the Roman Catholic Church and Anglican Church of Canada last November marked the 50th anniversary of formalized ecumenical dialogue between the two denominations. In May, the Anglican-Roman Catholic (ARC) dialogue in Canada held its first in-person meeting since the start of the pandemic in Châteauguay, Que.

Having spent the last few years reviewing Walking Together on the Way, participants in the Canadian ARC dialogue recently completed their own document, Walking Together in Canada, which examines the question of synodality from a specifically Canadian context.

“I think Catholics have identified through the several decades of close ecumenical relationship with Anglicans that our church explicitly understands itself as a church which is episcopally led and synodically governed,” Sharman said.

He noted that Anglicans hold regular synods at the local, regional and national levels and that these synods include lay, ordained and episcopal levels of ministry—whose role is not merely consultative, but who each contribute actively to making decisions.

“In light of all the other things that we do share in terms of some similar understandings of ministry and authority and church, [Roman Catholics] I think see us as a natural conversation partner to help them refocus this interest in synodality, and so have often been approaching Anglicans over the last number of years and asking to receive our gifts and our wisdom and our experience,” Sharman said.

Nicholas Jesson, ecumenical and interfaith officer for the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Regina, said the Roman Catholic Church has been reaching out to ecumenical partners, “particularly to the Anglican community,” to learn more about how other churches live out their synodal lives.

“How do you get the voices of those who are in the minority to be truly heard?” Jesson asked. “Anglicans have spent time reflecting on those sorts of things.” And whereas the Anglican Communion’s provinces are autonomous, the Catholic Church has “a very clear sense of identity as an international church.” Here again, he added, Roman Catholics are pondering what they might learn from Anglican models.

“We’re trying to explore more how can we decentralize and give more diversity at the local level.”

In sharing their experience of synodality with Roman Catholics, Sharman said, Anglicans have been discovering both what is “good about the way we do synods,” but also “things that we’ve allowed to atrophy and [that] are not healthy.” He referred to feelings of frustration and tension among Anglicans following the 2019 General Synod, which prompted a review of the church’s governance structures.

“As Catholics are beginning to revisit the invitation to think about the church as a synodal body where every member walks together and everyone shares in leadership and in direction, I think Anglicans are discovering… perhaps we’ve allowed synods to become a little bit too focused on things like debate and parliamentary procedure and voting—that sometimes they can be divisive and challenging things for us to live,” Sharman said.

The governance review now underway in the Anglican Church of Canada involves issues like these, he added, and so the church’s synodality discussions with Roman Catholics could potentially help it in this process.

Nicholls also highlighted how ecumenical partners can learn from each other.

“One of the great gifts of ecumenical dialogue is that you see yourself more clearly when you are in conversation with a church of a different tradition,” the primate said. “You see both your strengths and weaknesses, and you see the gifts that you can receive from others. That is a real value of ecumenical dialogue that I hope we never lose.”

Anglican-Lutheran relations: Looking towards Lambeth

Archdeacon of Canterbury Dr Will Adam shares ecumenical insights and hopes ahead of the 15th Lambeth Conference

Anglican bishops from around the globe are gearing up for a major event in the life of their communion which will shape the ministry and mission of its members over the next decade. The fifteenth Lambeth Conference takes place in Canterbury from 26 July to 8 August, bringing together over 600 bishops, alongside spouses, ecumenical observers and other invited guests.

The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) General Secretary Rev. Anne Burghardt will be taking part in that meeting, together with Prof. Dirk Lange, LWF’s Assistant General Secretary for Ecumenical Relations. Among those on hand to welcome them to the ancient city on the south-eastern tip of England will be a friend and ecumenical expert, Rev. Dr Will Adam, who was recently appointed Archdeacon of Canterbury.

Originally held at Lambeth Palace, the residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury on the banks of the river Thames in London, the Lambeth Conference has been meeting more or less once a decade since 1867 for prayer, reflection, fellowship and discussions on the challenges facing the 80-million-member global communion. It is one of the four, so-called Instruments of Unity of the Anglican Communion.

Passion for the world church

Prior to his present appointment, Dr Adam has held several high-profile roles within the Anglican Communion, including serving as its deputy secretary general for the past year. From 2019, he also worked as director of Unity, Faith and Order and before that, he served as ecumenical advisor to the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

Dr Adam puts his passion for ecumenism down to what he calls his “Swiss finishing school experience” at the Bossey Ecumenical Institute of the World Council of Churches (WCC). After studying theology and English church history at Manchester University, he trained for the priesthood at Westcott House in Cambridge and was sent for six months to Bossey, just outside Geneva, in 1993.

“Up until then, I had been mainly interested in the English church, but that experience opened my eyes to the beauty, the wonder, the variety of the world church,” he recalls. “I was studying with about 55 people from some 40 different countries and various denominations, so I came back fired up with enthusiasm for all things ecumenical,” he says. He served as a youth delegate at the 1998 WCC Assembly in Harare, Zimbabwe, before being appointed as ecumenical officer to the diocese of Ely in eastern England.

Shortly before settling into ministry and a doctorate in canon law, Adam had a brief moment of national fame when he appeared in a TV advertisement for a Ford Escort car featuring the slogan ‘What do you do in yours?’ “They were looking for a vicar, so I went along for a screen test and was filmed driving around a housing estate in South Wales,” he says with a smile. “Will Adam has married 14 women since he got his,” declares the narrator, before cutting to a close-up shot of him putting on his clerical collar.

In fact, Adam is happily married to another Anglican vicar, Rev. Lindsay Yates and they have three daughters. The family is busy relocating from rural West Sussex to Canterbury, where he will also hold the post of residentiary canon of the ancient cathedral, founded in 597 as the headquarters of the English church. “Canterbury is a place very close to my heart,” he acknowledged after his appointment in March, “as it has been for pilgrims from around the world for centuries.”

Among his wide ecumenical experiences, Adam is currently serving alongside Assistant General Secretary Lange as co-secretaries of a new body known as ALICUM (Anglican-Lutheran International Commission on Unity and Mission). Together with the co-chairs, Anglican Bishop Given Guala from Tanzania and Lutheran Bishop Cindy Halmarson from Canada, the two co-secretaries recently met in Geneva to discuss ways of facilitating practical cooperation between bishops of their two communions at national and regional level.

“It is four years since the establishment of ALICUM was approved by the LWF Council and by the Anglican legislative bodies,” notes Lange, “but COVID has significantly held up our efforts to move forward with this new form of shared ministry.” Pairs of bishops from the two denominations will be proposed with a mandate to work within a wide diversity of contexts, he explains. “This diversity includes countries where the two churches are either in a majority or a minority situation, but also interfaith contexts and work with indigenous communities,” he adds.

Differences that are not communion dividing

Adam points out that ALICUM is an important example of “an exercise in receptive ecumenism, asking what each side can offer to the other.” Over many decades of ecclesial and theological dialogue, he says, “Anglicans and Lutherans realized, by the time of the 2012 Jerusalem report, that the differences we have are not necessarily communion dividing.” In some parts of the world, the two churches now share relationships of full communion, “while others fall short of this but still have the potential to work more closely, side by side,” Adam reflects.

Taking a broader theological perspective, he notes that the Anglican Communion, along with the Methodists and Reformed churches, has also adhered to the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ), the 1999 Lutheran-Catholic agreement that he describes as “one of the most important ecumenical documents of the latter part of the 20th century.” As he prepares to take copies of the 20th anniversary edition of the document to the Lambeth Conference, he stresses the importance of “moving ahead to see how these commitments can now bear real fruit.”

Despite the wide diversity of views held by bishops coming together in Canterbury to discuss the future of their worldwide communion, Adam is hopeful that the shared prayers and Bible study, the plenary presentations and especially the small group discussions “will strengthen communion relations” that have been strained over issues of marriage and same-sex relationships.

“There will be honest and robust debate,” Adam concludes, “but I hope that in the various ways in which the mind of the communion is discerned, we will be able to look at the really important issues of our day, including persecutions, injustices, climate change, and see how to better equip Anglicans for effective mission and ministry in a conflicted world.”

Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth Conference planners set tone of unity over division for upcoming summer gathering

With the 15th Lambeth Conference scheduled this summer, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is seeking to unite the Anglican Communion under common expressions of faith and social engagement, rather than focusing on debates over human sexuality that have divided bishops at past conferences.

“The aim of this conference – which, like all the [Lambeth] conferences, is a very significant moment in the life of the community – is to encourage Anglicans around the world to be looking outwards to the world,” he said in a press conference with conference organizers on June 22. “The church should express its mission and its life of discipleship through engagement with the great challenges that the next 30 or 40 years will impose upon the vast majority of Anglicans, especially those in areas of climate fragility, and political and other fragility.”

The Lambeth Conference, a gathering of bishops from across the Anglican Communion that has taken place about every 10 years since 1867, is being held July 26 to Aug. 8 at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England; Canterbury Cathedral; and Lambeth Palace in London. The conference is one of the three Anglican instruments of communion, in addition to the Primates’ Meeting and the Anglican Consultative Council, the communion’s main policymaking body.

The conference was originally scheduled for the summer of 2020, but postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The conference last met 14 years ago in 2008.

In plenary sessions, keynote addresses, seminars and social events, the bishops will discuss themes including Christian unity and interfaith dialogue, evangelism, migration, the persecution of Christians and the challenges presented by the climate crisis and a rapidly evolving tech-based global economy. The overarching theme of this conference is “God’s Church for God’s World,” and 1 Peter will be the focus of a Bible study series throughout the conference – a text with themes of suffering, authority and power, said Janet Miles, head of communications for the Lambeth Conference Company.

Organizers said that as of June 22, 658 bishops and 480 bishops’ spouses were registered to attend in person, and more are in the process of registering to participate virtually due to concerns over COVID-19 and/or travel visa issues. All currently serving bishops in good standing in any province of the communion, of which there are “just shy of 1,000,” are invited, said Bishop Tim Thornton, the archbishop of Canterbury’s adviser on the Lambeth Conference.

Bishops’ spouses are also invited, but those in same-sex marriages – of which there are several in The Episcopal Church and other provinces – are not. Four gay Episcopal bishops met with Welby in January to discuss the situation, but no changes have been announced. In the press conference, Welby said that the decision was made because the 1998 Lambeth Conference issued a resolution stating that it does not recognize same-sex marriage.

“It was a very difficult decision as to whether to invite spouses in same-sex marriages or not. We’ve talked a great length with all of the spouses. … There are many people in the communion, not just bishops, who feel that [the 1998 resolution] was a wrong decision, and many more than there were at the time when the decision was taken. I have no doubt that that is the position of the communion. And in this very strange role which I hold, which includes describing me as a focus of unity, I can’t simply pretend that that’s not the case.”

Resolution I.10 “upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, and believes that abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage.” The Lambeth Conference, however, is not a legislative body.

“It does not have any legal authority, but it does have heavy and serious moral authority,” said Archbishop Josiah Idowu Fearon, secretary-general of the Anglican Communion, in his remarks opening the press conference.

In May, the primates of the Anglican provinces of Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda, announced in an open letter that they would boycott the Lambeth Conference – as they did in 2008 – primarily over the ordination of gay bishops and acceptance of same-sex marriage in The Episcopal Church and several other provinces. In response, Welby said the primates’ invitation to Lambeth remains open. About 300 bishops are from Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda, Thornton said.

The cost to attend is £4,950 per person – just over $6,000.

“These international conferences are not cheap, but we’re not in it to make a profit. We’re in it to cover our costs,” said Phil George, chief executive of the Lambeth Conference Company.

Thornton could not provide a total cost for the conference, with registration numbers still in flux, but said his office is “currently projecting a tiny surplus.” With that cost presenting a major burden in many provinces, more than half of the currently registered bishops are attending for free on a full bursary, he said.

For this conference, Welby has planned for the bishops to issue “Lambeth Calls” rather than resolutions, as they have at previous conferences. The calls – previously described as “short written statements that include declarations, affirmations and common ‘calls’ to the church and the world that the bishops want to make – are intended to move the conference away from issuing statements of doctrinal agreement and toward dialogue among autonomous provinces.

“The move from resolutions to calls is simply a recognition of the reality that the Lambeth Conference is not a synod. It can’t resolve things in the sense that they’re then resolved. They can call on provinces to consider for themselves, and that’s why we call them a call, because they’re a call; they are not a resolution.”

While the bishops disagree on many things, Welby said, they can all agree on one thing: that Jesus is Lord.

“My prayer is that this process will continue the slow process of learning, first of all, to disagree well,” he said, “and second, to recognize that although these questions of human sexuality are really questions of enormous significance and importance … the heart of being a Christian, is that we love Jesus Christ as God.”

Nigerian, Rwandan and Ugandan bishops’ invitation to Lambeth Conference remains open

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has written to the Primates of Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda to tell them that his invitation to bishops from their provinces to attend the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops remains open. In a joint letter with the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, Archbishop Justin said: “God calls us to unity and not to conflict so that the world may know he came from the Father. That is the very purpose of the church globally.”

“Boycotts do not proclaim Christ”, the two Anglican leaders said. “Those who stay away cannot be heard, they will lose influence and the chance of shaping the future. All of us will be the poorer spiritually as a result of your absence.”

His letter was in response to a joint statement issued by the three Primates – Archbishop Henry Ndukuba of Nigeria, Archbishop Laurent Mbanda of Rwanda, and Archbishop Stephen Kaziimba of Uganda – in response to the Communiqué from the Primates’ Meeting at Lambeth Palace, London, in March, which they did not attend.

In his letter, Archbishop Justin asks the three primates to cease making inaccurate statements about the position of the Church of England, telling them that “the Church of England, has not in any way changed its teaching on marriage or the place of sexual relations.”

They also criticise the three Primates’ rejection of some of the topics to be discussed at the Lambeth Conference, saying: “we are distressed to read that you consider matters of the environment, poverty and economic disadvantage to be ‘peripheral’. These are matters of life and death for large parts of the Communion. They are the result of human sin of despoiling and ruining God’s creation and it is anticipated that the world will see devastating wars and the displacement of up to one billion people as a direct result of climate change.

“Not to care for God’s creation and for the poor and destitute is in direct contravention of the teaching of scripture and the words of Jesus Christ.”

The Communiqué from the Primates’ Meeting made reference to the Primates of Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda, saying: “We continue to lament the absence from our meetings of three primates who choose to stay away. Our reflections, deliberations and fellowship are diminished by their absence. We miss them and their prayerful wisdom, and we long for the time when we will all meet together.”

In their letter, Archbishops Justin and Josiah said: “We stand by the statements in that communiqué, not least that which laments the absence of Your Graces from that meeting and of your churches from other instruments of the Communion’s life.”

On the question of disagreements within the Anglican Communion, Archbishops Justin and Josiah said: “The Bible is at the heart of Christian life. Anglicans hold to Scripture as the ultimate authority in matters of faith, as the Church has down the centuries.

“There have always been disagreements on matters that affect the faith and life of the church and, from the Council of Jerusalem (see Acts 15) onwards the way that the Church has dealt with disagreement has been by prayerful discussion and listening to the views of those who differ.

“Questions of human identity and sexuality will undoubtedly be discussed at the Lambeth Conference but bishops from Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda have indicated that they will not be there. Therefore they will have neither voice nor the opportunity to listen.”

Former child refugee named as next Secretary General of the Anglican Communion

A South Sudanese bishop who was forced with his family into exile before he was one year old, the Right Revd Anthony Poggo, has been named as the next Secretary General of the Anglican Communion. Bishop Anthony Poggo, the former Bishop of Kajo-Keji in the Episcopal Church of South Sudan, is currently the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Adviser on Anglican Communion Affairs.

Bishop Anthony was selected for his new role by a sub-committee of the Anglican Communion’s Standing Committee following a competitive recruitment process led by external consultants.

He will take up his new role in September, succeeding the Most Revd Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, who steps down after next month’s Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops, which is being held in Canterbury, Kent, from 26 July to 8 August.

The Anglican Communion is the world’s third largest Christian denomination. It comprises 42 independent-yet-interdependent autonomous regional, national and pan-national Churches (provinces), active in more than 165 countries.

The Churches of the Anglican Communion are in communion (or relationship) with the Archbishop of Canterbury. They are structurally independent and there is no “head office”.

The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion leads the staff team at the Anglican Communion Office, the international secretariat serving the four “Instruments of Communion” – sometimes called the “Instruments of Unity”. These are the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primates’ Meeting, the Anglican Consultative Council, and the Lambeth Conference.

Born in 1964, in what is now South Sudan, Bishop Anthony and his siblings were taken by his father – an Anglican priest – and his mother into Uganda to flee the first Sudanese Civil War. In 1973, at the age of nine, he returned with his family to South Sudan.

Bishop Anthony said that when he was about 12, somebody shared with him the importance of having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, he said. “I then took the step of accepting Christ and following him.

“At the time, I thought ‘my father is a priest. Why am I being asked to take this step’. But then I realised that your relationship with Christ is a personal relationship. You have to take the step of faith on your own accord rather than through your parents. Later in life I learned that God only has children; he doesn’t have grandchildren – which means that you become a child of God on your own accord, not through your father and not through your mother.

“I have found it very important to spend time reading the Word of God, especially with my Scripture Union background, because the Word of God is an important aspect of our lives for our spiritual growth.”

After graduating from Juba University with a degree in Management and Public Administration, he joined the ecumenical mission agency Scripture Union. While there he felt a need for theological training and gained an MA in Biblical Studies from the Nairobi International School of Theology in Kenya.

He then returned to Uganda to minister to Sudanese refugees with Scripture Union, the Bishop of Kajo-Keji then, the Right Rev Manasseh Binyi Dawidi, who himself was serving the Sudanese refugees in exile in Uganda asked him to consider ordination. “I said ‘Yes, I would’, because I was already training clergy and he felt that it would be important for me to be ordained clergy in order to train clergy.”

He was ordained a Deacon in 1995 and a Priest in 1996 and continued working for Scripture Union before joining Across, a Christian mission agency working in Sudan from Nairobi, leading the charity’s publishing arm. While there he studied for an MBA in publishing at Oxford Brookes University in England. He rose through the ranks at Across, eventually becoming the Executive Director of the organisation.

In 2007 he was elected Bishop of Kajo-Keji, a position he held until 2016 when he moved to Lambeth Palace to support the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, as his Adviser on Anglican Communion Affairs.

“It is a huge privilege to be appointed as the next Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, taking over from the Most Reverend Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon. His are big shoes to fill”, Bishop Anthony said.

“I would like to thank the Anglican Communion’s Standing Committee for the trust and confidence in appointing me to lead the staff team at the Anglican Communion Office as it undertakes it role in supporting the Instruments of Communion.

“I look forward to taking on my role at the beginning of September and work alongside the team at the ACO in preparing for ACC-18.”

ACC-18 is the 18th plenary meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, and will take place in Accra, Ghana, in February 2023.

“One of the things that we will be focusing on from September is to support the instruments of the Anglican Communion as they implement the outcomes of the 2022 Lambeth Conference”, Bishop Anthony said. “Please pray for me as I take on this role in leading the ACO team so that the Anglican Communion family will continue in its role of being ‘God’s Church for God’s world’ in such a time as this.”

Bishop Anthony Poggo’s appointment as Secretary General has been welcomed by leaders in the Anglican Communion.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Right Hon Justin Welby, said: “I am delighted that Bishop Anthony Poggo has been appointed Secretary General of the Anglican Communion. Over the past six years he has built up an immense knowledge of our global Communion and its people as my Adviser on Anglican Communion Affairs. And in that time many people in the Communion have got to know Anthony too – and I am sure that they will join with me in welcoming his appointment.

“Anthony’s wise counsel and his heart for the Gospel will be put to good use in his new role as Secretary General. He starts his new ministry at an exciting time for the Anglican Communion, with next month’s Lambeth Conference helping to set the agenda and focus of our shared mission and ministry for the next decade, as we continue to discern and put into practice our calling to be God’s Church for God’s world.”

The Archbishop of South Sudan, the Most Revd Justin Badi-Arama, is the Primate of Bishop Anthony’s home-province – the Episcopal Church of South Sudan. He said: “We thank God that out of the suffering Church in South Sudan, God has raised bishop Anthony to this highest position.

“He is coming at a time that the Anglican Communion is facing many challenges. But as Mordecai said to Esther; We trust God that ‘may be it is for such a time like this that God brought up’ (Ester 4:14).

“We encourage him to always be guided by the scriptures as we support him in prayers.”

The present Secretary General, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, from the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), said: “I give glory to the Lord for the appointment of Bishop Anthony Poggo as Secretary General of Anglican Communion. He is endowed with many gifts and it is my prayer that he would bring it all to his ministry within and beyond the Anglican Communion.

“I look forward to our working briefly together before handing over to him after the Lambeth Conference. May the Lord equip Bishop Anthony for a fruitful ministry as the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion.”

The Chair of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), Archbishop Paul Kwong from the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, said: “I warmly welcome Bishop Anthony Poggo as Secretary General of the Anglican Communion. He will bring to the Communion many gifts in particular to the Anglican Consultative Council.

“His vision of the Communion and her mission, not to mention the incredible breath of experience, will be an invaluable asset to the Communion. I look forward to serving with him at ACC and other instruments of Unity in the Communion.”

The Vice-Chair of the ACC, Canon Maggie Swinson from the Church of England, said: “I am delighted that Bishop Anthony will be taking up the role of Secretary General. He brings a wealth of experience from his previous role and I very much look forward to working with him.”

Archbishop of Canterbury introduces new Lambeth Conference feature: ‘Lambeth Calls’

In a message filmed recently in Canterbury, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has shared his hopes for a new process of “Lambeth Calls” that will be an important feature of this year’s Lambeth Conference.

The term “Lambeth Calls” is being used for the bishops’ discussions at the conference, and papers which are shared by the bishops during the event to summarize the outcomes of their conversations.

“Lambeth Calls” will be short written statements that include declarations, affirmations and common “calls” to the church and the world that the bishops want to make. Lambeth Calls will relate to the main themes of the conference program and include: mission and evangelism, reconciliation, safe church, the environment and sustainable development, Christian unity, interfaith relations, Anglican identity, human dignity and discipleship.

The intention is to make each of the calls from the conference public and to ensure that there is a process by which the outcomes included in each call can be received and implemented. Member churches will be invited to consider the calls in their own synods and other bodies. It is expected that several themes from the calls will be on the agenda for the meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in 2023.

In his message, Welby says: “The Lambeth Conference is a wonderful gathering because it brings people from all over the world. But the reality is that Lambeth Conferences are there to come together and to discern what God is saying to the church… to offer that discernment, that insight, that imagination to the whole church, to every single one of the provinces…. [Lambeth Calls] will call on the Anglican Communion, the whole Communion, to pray, and to think and reflect, and for each province to decide on its response.”

Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity becomes Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity

Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity

In line with the new Apostolic Constitution Praedicate Evangelium on the Roman Curia and its service to the Church and to the entire world effective as from 5 June 2022, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity has become the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity.

It was also on 5 June, Pentecost Sunday, in 1960 that the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity was created by Saint John XXIII as a preparatory commission of the Second Vatican Council, marking the commencement of the official commitment of the Catholic Church to the ecumenical movement. With the Apostolic Constitution Pastor bonus of 1988, Saint John Paul II transformed the Secretariat into the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

The Apostolic Constitution Praedicate Evangelium establishes that “it is the responsibility of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Christian Unity to apply appropriate initiatives and activities to the ecumenical commitment, both within the Catholic Church and in relations with other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, to restore unity among Christians” (art.142).

In particular, it is the task of the Dicastery to “implement the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and the post‒conciliar Magisterium concerning ecumenism”, to assume responsibility for “the correct interpretation and faithful application of ecumenical principles”, to encourage “Catholic meetings and events, both national and international, to promote Christian unity”, and to coordinate “the ecumenical initiatives of the other curial institutions” (art.143).

The Dicastery “maintains relations with other Churches and Ecclesial Communities”, promoting “theological dialogue and talks to foster unity with them”, as well as “ecumenical initiatives on a spiritual, pastoral and cultural level” (art.144).

Also, “in order to advance the relationship between Catholics and Jews, a Commission for Religious Relations with Judaism is established at the Dicastery” (art.146).

Malines Conversations in Madeira

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.

Pope Francis: Anglicans are ‘valued traveling companions’

Pope Francis said on Friday that members of the Anglican Communion are “valued travelling companions” as Catholics take part in a worldwide synodal process.

Speaking to the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Dialogue Commission (ARCIC) on May 13, the pope said he hoped that Anglicans would contribute to the two-year initiative leading to the Synod on Synodality in Rome in 2023.

He said: “As you know, the Catholic Church has inaugurated a synodal process: for this common journey to be truly such, the contribution of the Anglican Communion cannot be lacking. We look upon you as valued travelling companions.”

The 85-year-old pope noted that in July he is due to travel to South Sudan with Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the Anglican Communion.

The pope, who has been making his public appearances in a wheelchair since May 5 due to a torn ligament in his right knee, said: “As part of this concrete journey, I wish to recommend to your prayers an important step. Archbishop Justin Welby and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, two dear brothers, will be my travelling companions when, in a few weeks’ time, we will at last be able to travel to South Sudan.”

“The visit was postponed on account of the troubles in that country. My brother Justin is sending his wife ahead of us for the works of preparation and charity. This is the fine work he is doing with his wife, as a couple, and I thank her very much.”

He added: “Ours will be an ecumenical pilgrimage of peace. Let us pray that it may inspire Christians in South Sudan and everywhere to be promotors of reconciliation, patient weavers of concord, capable of saying no to the perverse and useless spiral of violence and of arms.”

The Anglican Communion is the world’s third-largest Christian communion after the Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church. It has an estimated 85 million members in more than 165 countries.

ARCIC was founded in 1967 by the then Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey and Pope Paul VI. Currently in its third phase, the commission’s most recent document is entitled “Walking Together on the Way.”

Catholic-Anglican unity requires walking, working together, pope says

by Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

Divided Christians must recognize how their sins have fractured Christ’s church, be honest about the struggles their communities are facing and be humble enough to recognize that others have gifts they need, Pope Francis said.

Welcoming members of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission to the Vatican May 13, the pope also insisted that while the formal theological dialogues continue, divided Christians also must be willing to get their hands dirty “in shared service to our wounded brothers and sisters discarded on the waysides of our world.”

The “journey” toward Christian unity is not simply metaphorical, he said.

“As part of this concrete journey, I wish to recommend to your prayers an important step. (Anglican) Archbishop Justin Welby and the moderator of the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland, two dear brothers, will be my traveling companions when, in a few weeks’ time, we will at last be able to travel to South Sudan.”

Pope Francis, Archbishop Welby of Canterbury and the Rev. Dr. Iain M Greenshields, the new moderator of the Presbyterian church, have announced they will visit South Sudan together July 5-7.

In a land where different denominations evangelized different communities and many of those communities are experiencing political tensions with each other, the pope said: “Ours will be an ecumenical pilgrimage of peace. Let us pray that it may inspire Christians in South Sudan and everywhere to be promotors of reconciliation, patient weavers of concord, capable of saying no to the perverse and useless spiral of violence and of arms.”

Diverging from his prepared text, Pope Francis told the group, “my brother Justin is sending his wife first to do the works of preparation and charity. And this is the good work that he does, as a couple, with his wife. Thank you so much.”

In ecumenical relations, like in civil relations, he said, “we must not fall into the bondage of conflict.”

“We must distinguish between crisis and conflict,” he said. “We, in our dialogue, will have to enter crisis, and that is good,” because a crisis can force people to recognize danger and find creative ways to overcome it.

Catholics and Anglicans, the pope said, are called to walk together, “moving forward, leaving behind the things that divide, past and present, and keeping our gaze fixed on Jesus and the goal that he desires and points out to us: the goal of visible unity between us.”

“Every search for deeper communion must be an exchange of gifts, where each makes his or her own the seeds that God has sown in the other,” the pope insisted. “The gifts of the Holy Spirit are never given for the exclusive use of those who receive them. They are blessings meant for all God’s people: The graces we receive are intended for others, and the graces others receive are necessary for us.”

In the realm of ecumenism, though, the “exchange of gifts” can be reduced to a formal or ceremonial gesture, he said.

“Humility and truth,” the pope said, are necessary to make sure that does not happen.

“To speak honestly to one another both about ecclesiological and ethical questions, to discuss uncomfortable topics, is risky; it could increase distances rather than promoting encounter,” he said. The ecclesiological questions dividing Catholics and Anglicans include the ordination of women as priests and bishops, and the ethical questions include the blessing of same-sex marriages.

The place to begin, he said, must be “by admitting and sharing the struggles we experience. This is the first step: not to be concerned with appearing attractive and secure to our brothers and sisters, presenting ourselves the way we would like to be, but with showing them with an open heart how we are in reality.”

“The sins that have led to our historical divisions can only be surmounted in humility and truth, beginning with experiencing sorrow for our reciprocal wounds and the need to give and receive mutual forgiveness,” the pope said. “This demands courage, but it is the spirit of gift, since each true gift entails sacrifice, entails transparency and courage, and openness to forgiveness.”

Pope to Anglican-Catholic Dialogue Commission: ‘Unity prevails over conflict’

By Linda Bordoni, Vatican News

Pope Francis encourages the Anglican Communion to contribute to the Catholic Church’s synodal process, and looks ahead to his “pilgrimage of peace” to South Sudan in July in the company of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland.

Pope Francis has reiterated the Church’s commitment to walk together with the Anglican Communion towards full Christian unity, while reflecting on the ongoing synodal process and expressing his desire to promote peace and reconciliation in South Sudan.

Speaking to members of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Dialogue Commission (ARCIC), whom he received in the Vatican on Friday, the Pope recalled the establishment of the Commission in 1967 by Pope Paul VI and Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey, to embark on a journey of full reconciliation.

He noted that during three phases of work the Commission has sought “to leave behind what compromises our communion and to nurture the bonds that unite Catholics and Anglicans.”

“Yours has been a journey, at times fast, at times slow and difficult. Yet, I would emphasize that it has been, and continues to be, a journey.”

Journey

Reflecting on the word “journey”, the Pope remarked on the Commission’s latest document entitled “Walking Together on the Way”, which he said, means “moving forward, leaving behind the things that divide, past and present, and keeping our gaze fixed on Jesus and the goal that he desires and points out to us: the goal of visible unity between us.”

He called for mutual support, pointing out that ecumenical dialogue is a journey “that involves getting to know one another personally,” sharing aspirations and moments of fatigue, and “soiling our hands in shared service to our wounded brothers and sisters discarded on the waysides of our world.”

“It involves approaching with a single gaze and a common commitment God’s creation all around us, and encouraging one another to persevere on the journey.”

Synodal process

Pope Francis reminded those present that the Catholic Church has inaugurated a synodal process, and invited the Anglican Communion to contribute in this journey as well.

“We look upon you as valued travelling companions.”

South Sudan

The Pope did not neglect to look ahead to the journey he is scheduled to undertake in the company of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland to South Sudan.

“Ours will be an ecumenical pilgrimage of peace”

And speaking off-the-cuff, the Pope said the pilgrimage to South Sudan – which had already been in the pipelines for years – was postponed due to local difficulties, “but my brother, Justin, sent his wife ahead to prepare the ground with works of charity… And this [is the] good work he does in his marriage, with his wife: thank you so much!”

“Let us pray that it may inspire Christians in South Sudan and everywhere to be promotors of reconciliation, patient weavers of concord, capable of saying no to the perverse and useless spiral of violence and of arms,” he said, recalling that the path began years ago with a spiritual retreat in the Vatican with the leaders of South Sudan, Justin Welby and the present Moderator of the Church of Scotland: “An ecumenical journey with South Sudanese politicians.”

Gift

Pope Francis went on to reflect on the word “gift” noting that “If journey speaks of ways and means, gift reveals the very soul of ecumenism.”

“Every search for deeper communion must be an exchange of gifts, where each makes his or her own the seeds that God has sown in the other,” he said.

Thus, warning against a formal or ceremonial attitude in this respect, the Pope called for an honest exchange regarding ecclesiological and ethical questions, that must always be conducted with humility and truth.

“The sins that have led to our historical divisions can only be surmounted in humility and truth, beginning with experiencing sorrow for our reciprocal wounds and the need to give and receive mutual forgiveness,” he said quoting from Ut Unum Sint.

“This demands courage, but it is the spirit of gift, since each true gift entails sacrifice, entails transparency and courage, and openness to forgiveness,” he said.

Only in this way, he said, will we become attuned to the Holy Spirit, “the gift of God, bestowed upon us in order to restore our harmony, for He Himself is harmony that reconciles unity in diversity.”

“The gifts of the Holy Spirit are never given for the exclusive use of those who receive them. They are blessings meant for all God’s people.”

“The graces we receive are intended for others,” Pope Francis summed up, “and the graces others receive are necessary for us. In the exchange of gifts, then, we learn that we cannot be self-sufficient without the graces granted to others.”

Concluding, he quoted from his own words in 2019 that the Archbishop of Canterbury cited, today, in his speech: “Unity prevails over conflict” and he expressed his belief that we must never fall into “the slavery of conflict”, but discern between crisis and conflict whereby a crisis is useful as it helps us to go beyond conflict that paves the way to war and division.

Anglicans, Roman Catholics rejoice to gather in-person for ecumenical dialogue

Christ is Risen! Le Christ est resuscitate!

The Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue of Canada (ARC Canada) has been meeting regularly for 50 years, with a mandate to serve the cause of visible Christianity unity and common witness between the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) and the Roman Catholic Church in Canada. Having continued the Dialogue online from 2020-2021, members rejoiced to be able to convene in person on May 2-5 at the Manoir D’Youville in Châteauguay, QC.

These days were the source of a renewed beginning in several ways: ARC Canada welcomed a few new members into its ranks, continuing a long tradition of gifted and dedicated ecumenical leaders who have contributed to its work over the decades. A new proposed terms of reference was reviewed that would, among other things, expand the participation of representatives from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) from a role as observers to full membership, as full communion partners within the ACC delegation. There was also a chance to engage with recent discussions of synodality in the Roman Catholic Church, and to review aspects of some of the latest ecumenical study on the subject of Anglican ordinations.

In addition, this meeting saw the start of a new focus for ARC Canada: the theological bases for churches issuing corporate ecclesial apologies for past and present sins. Such a discussion naturally includes particular reference to the work of healing and right relations with the Indigenous Peoples of Canada. This major topic is expected to occupy the agenda for the next several meetings. Because this year’s gathering was held adjacent to the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory it also provided an occasion to visit some historic sites in the area – including the shrine of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, along with its museum and interpretive centre – to learn more about the history and traditions of the Mohawk People and their relations with Christian settlers and missions.

These times of conversation were complemented and enhanced by regular times of prayer, drawing on the gifts of different rites and forms from the Anglican, Lutheran, Roman Catholic, and Ukrainian Catholic traditions. The shared meals and social times enjoyed at the Manoir were also essential parts of the work of the dialogue, which always depends greatly on the nurturing of trust and friendship. Opportunities to welcome as guests Bishop Alain Faubert and Bishop Mary Irwin-Gibson, from the Roman Catholic and Anglican Dioceses of Montreal respectively, further enriched these occasions.

Typically meeting twice a year, ARC Canada intends to hold its next meeting virtually, in November 2022 with a subsequent in-person encounter again in spring 2023.

The current members of the dialogue are:

Anglican

Bishop Bruce Myers (Co-Chair)
The Rev. Dr. Iain Luke
The Rev. Marie-Louise Ternier
The Rev. Canon Dr. Scott Sharman (Staff)

Lutheran

Bishop Cindy Halmarson

Catholic

Archbishop Brian Dunn (Co-Chair)
Sr. Donna Geernaert, SC
Dr. Nicholas Olkovich
Adèle Brodeur
Nicholas Jesson
Subdeacon Dr. Brian Butcher (Staff)

To explore past work of ARC Canada visit:

Anglican and Catholic Archbishops of Armagh joint Easter 2022 message

The joyful carol that we know as the ‘Carol of the Bells’ has its origins in a Ukrainian folk song which in ancient times was sung, not at Christmas, but at this time of the year to mark the fresh beginnings of spring. It tells the tale of a swallow flying into a home after the winter to promise the family a new season of joy, happiness and plenty.

It’s difficult to contemplate such a hopeful scene for the people of Ukraine this Easter as the world continues to witness the horror of death, destruction and displacement being visited on their country these past few months. Peace and prosperity seem a distant dream. It must be much easier for them to meditate on the pain of Good Friday, or on the emptiness of Holy Saturday, than on the joy and happiness of Easter morning.

And yet when the Lord appeared to his disciples after his resurrection, his opening words were ‘Peace be with you’. His words meant much more than the traditional ‘Shalom’ greeting, for in speaking Easter peace, he also showed his friends the wounds of violence in his hands and in his side – the marks of the crucifixion. He therefore identifies himself to them as both the Crucified, and the Risen Saviour, one acquainted with suffering; his peace is offered through the blood of the cross.

On the third day after the crucifixion the disciples remained locked away, in fear and terror, shell–shocked by the trauma of seeing their hero – their Prince of Peace – tortured, mocked and horrifically nailed to a wooden cross. But on resurrection day, the Risen Lord seeks them out, entering in behind the locked doors and walls of their fear and isolation. He had promised that he would not leave them as orphans and that he would gift them a peace that the world cannot give. Now, following his rejection, suffering, death and resurrection, he returns to reassure their troubled hearts that death and evil will not have the last word. He offers them words of deep peace and comfort: ‘Peace be with you’. ‘Do not be afraid’.

How much the world needs to hear and embrace this message of an Easter peace which does not deny the reality of suffering and death. From Ukraine to Tigray, from Syria to South Sudan, the cross of Good Friday continues to cast its shadow in the suffering of millions caught up in the violence and aggression of war. Mercifully, also, the work of peacemakers and the enormous outpouring of love, welcome and humanitarian aid bears witness to the hope and promise of Easter peace that can never be extinguished by war or hatred. One day families will be reunited, homes rebuilt, livelihoods restored; the deafening noise of bombardment will give way once more to the sounds of bells ringing, and birds singing.

Last month, on Saint Patrick’s Day, we pointed out how war is a defeat for humanity; it represents the failure of politics, diplomacy and dialogue. We also remarked that what is happening today in Europe should help us learn lessons for our own peace process, about the importance of never taking our progress in peace for granted, never giving up on dialogue and the building of bridges and mutual understanding across historical divides. The tragedy of what we are witnessing in Ukraine during these days impels us again this Easter to be peacemakers and never to tire in working for a genuine human fraternity as the only way to resolve differences and conflicts.

Global meeting of Anglican Primates takes place in London

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Right Hon Justin Welby, is playing host to the senior archbishops, presiding bishops or moderators from across the Anglican Communion this week, at a Primates’ Meeting being held at Lambeth Palace, London.

The leaders of the independent-yet-interdependent autonomous national and regional churches of the Anglican Communion were first invited to gather for “leisurely thought, prayer and deep consultation” by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Donald Coggan, in 1978. Since then, successive Archbishops of Canterbury have invited their fellow Primates to gather at varying intervals at venues around the world.

This week’s meeting is the first in-person gathering of Anglican Primates since they met in Jordan in January 2020. International travel restrictions to protect against the Covid pandemic has prevented further in-person meetings until now. The Primates held online meetings in November 2020 and 2021 to discuss a range of issues, including the global impact of the pandemic.

It had originally been planned for the meeting to take place in Rome, but was switched to London at a time when travel restrictions in Italy meant that a significant number of Primates would not have been able to fully participate. There are currently no Covid-related travel restrictions for visitors to the UK, but a small number of invited Primates will be taking part in the meeting online because of return-travel restrictions in their home countries.

This week’s Primates’ Meeting is a precursor to the Lambeth Conference, a once-a-decade gathering to which all bishops in the Anglican Communion are invited. Postponed from 2020, the Lambeth Conference will take place in Canterbury in July and August this year.

There is very little “formal” business in this week’s Primates’ Meeting – the emphasis is on prayer, Bible Study, relationship-building and spiritual reflection. In some ways, it returns the focus of the Primates’ Meeting to an opportunity for “leisurely thought, prayer and deep consultation”.

While in London, the Primates will hear from Dr Marion Watson, Head of Operations at the Centre for Clinical Vaccinology and Tropical Medicine at the University of Oxford. Dr Watson has overseen a wide range of clinical trial research and development activities on vaccines for malaria, TB and emerging pathogens, including vaccine trials for Covid-19.

They will also hear from a government minister from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office; and visit the House of Lords.

The church leaders will agree their agenda on the first day of their Primates’ Meeting, but the limited “business” sessions are likely to include updates on the Lambeth Conference and on the next plenary meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council which is due to take place in Accra, Ghana, in early 2023.

They are also expected to discuss a consultation from the Church of England on extending the involvement of the wider Anglican Communion in the choice of future Archbishops of Canterbury.

The main focus of the Primates will be on “leisurely thought, prayer and deep consultation”. They will have Bible studies on 1 Peter – the biblical focus for this year’s Lambeth Conference – and hear reflections on chapters 15 and 16 of John’s Gospel. The Primates will worship at services in Lambeth Palace and elsewhere in London.

Annual meeting between the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and WCC

The annual meeting of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID) and the Office of Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation (IRDC) of the World Council of Churches (WCC) took place at the PCID Office on 24-25 March 2022.

The meeting was characterized by three features: i) An appraisal of the 45-year ecumenical journey between the PCID and the WCC in fostering interreligious dialogue through joint projects and collaboration and their reception and impact in local communities. ii) Brainstorming and mapping out a plan of action for future celebration of the 50th anniversary of this journey. iii) Prayer for peace in the world, particularly for Ukraine.

Over the years, PCID and WCC have engaged in a dialogue on a shared Christian perspective towards interreligious dialogue, issuing a number of documents including “Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World: Recommendations for Conduct” (2011), “Education for Peace in a Multi-Religious World: A Christian Perspective” (2019), and “Serving a Wounded World in Interreligious Solidarity: A Christian Call to Reflection and Action During COVID-19” (2020).

Expressing happiness over the increasing friendship and mutual collaboration between the two Offices over these 45 years, both delegations looked with anticipation to the 50th anniversary and reiterated their desire to continue common ecumenical engagement in the service of interreligious dialogue.

‘Praedicate Evangelium’ presented at Holy See Press Office

Vatican experts present Pope Francis‘ long-awaited Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia ‘Praedicate Evangelium’ on Monday at the Holy See Press Office.

Church leaders and experts involved in the work on the new Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia presented ‘Praedicate Evangelium‘ to journalists on hand both at the Holy See Press Office, as well as those watching online during a two-and-a-half-hour press conference.

The text of the document was released just two days earlier, on the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, when Pope Francis had the Apostolic Constitution promulgated.

Missionary dimension

Among the presenters at the Press Conference, Bishop Marco Mellino, Secretary of the Council of Cardinals, noted that the title itself of the document, ‘Praedicate Evangelium‘, underscores the missionary dimension and core duty of evangelization, proclaiming the Good News of the Gospel, which regards all the offices assisting the Pope in his pastoral ministry.

He also pointed out how the Roman Curia is by its nature at the service of the universal Church and under the direction of the Pope assisting him to carry out his universal pastoral mission throughout the world.

He also noted how the concept of synodality enters into the equation now, as the Roman Curia becomes increasingly instrumental in listening and dialoguing with the particular Churches as it carries out its service.

‘Ecclesia semper reformanda’

Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and over these years assisting Pope Francis and the Cardinals in preparing the document, gave an overview and historical context surrounding it.

The new Apostolic Constitution will replace the current one governing the Roman Curia, ‘Pastor Bonus‘, promulgated back on 28 June 1988 by Pope Saint John Paul II. The new Constitution will come into force on 5 June 2022, the Solemnity of Pentecost.

Cardinal Semeraro noted how ‘Praedicate Evangelium‘, many years in the making from discussions going back to the conclave of 2013, brings to completion the reform of the Roman Curia.

Many of the reforms have already been implemented in recent years, even before the new Constitution was finalized, although all the offices of the Roman Curia will need to assure their current statutes are fully in line with the final indications set in the Apostolic Constitution.

Innovation and reforms

Father Gianfranco Ghirlanda, SJ, a Canon lawyer and emeritus professor of the Pontifical Gregorian University, offered his input on the document.

He noted areas of innovation, including the increasingly important role of the laity in the Roman Curia and the possibility they have to hold positions of authority and governance, while at the same time acknowledging responsibilities where Holy Orders are required.

Fr. Ghirlanda also looked at how the role and authority of Bishops Conferences around the world in exercising their authority. And he spoke of how the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors has been given special importance and prominence with its placement under the responsibility of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

He also described the reforms and reorganization of offices regarding the economic and financial areas of the Holy See, in order to bring them up to the latest standards and meet current needs.

In conclusion, he noted beneath all these reforms is an emphasis on “interior reform”, which means assuring the proper interior disposition of all those serving in the Roman Curia by focusing greater attention to personal, ongoing conversion, which is not just a matter for structures “semper reformanda” – continually renewed – but first regarding persons.