The Archbishop of Canterbury has announced revised dates for the 15th Lambeth Conference. Hosted in Canterbury, Kent, the face-to-face conference will be planned for the 27th July – 8th August 2022 (with the official conference ending on the 7th August and departures on the 8th August).
The conference has been rescheduled from the original 2020 dates due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The conference organisers will continue to monitor the implications of COVID-19 and follow official health guidance in the months ahead.
With the theme of ‘God’s Church for God’s World – walking, listening and witnessing together’ the conference will focus on what it means for the Anglican Communion – shaped by the Five Marks of Mission – to be responsive to the needs and challenges of a fast changing world in the 21st Century. This will be the first Lambeth Conference to meet both face-to-face and virtually. As well as the meeting in Canterbury in 2022, the Lambeth Conference will now be planned as a conference journey, that runs in phases before, during and beyond the face-to-face gathering.
Starting in 2021 the focus of phase one will be on introducing some of the major themes and strategic pillars of the conference programme. The conference community of bishops and spouses – and wider Anglican audiences – will be invited to take part in the Lambeth conversation in different ways. This will be facilitated through a combination of online, regional and intraregional meetings and supporting resources.
With bishops and spouses invited from 165 countries of the Anglican Communion, the conference community represents a diversity of cultures and Christian tradition. The virtual phase of the conference will give more time to meet one another, start to discuss conference topics and have greater opportunity to share insights and experiences from their provinces and church communities.
It will also ensure that the use of conference resources and planning for future outcomes in the life of the Anglican Communion can be as effective as possible.
A working group is being appointed to shape the conference journey, comprised by representatives from around the communion. These are the Bishop of Penrith, The Rt Revd Dr Emma Ineson (who also serves as a member of the conference Design Group); the Right Revd Bishop Anthony Poggo, (Archbishop of Canterbury’s Adviser on Anglican Communion Affairs); the Revd Prof Joseph D Galgalo (Vice Chancellor and associate professor of Theology at St. Pauls University in Kenya) and the Bishop of Amritsar, The Right Revd Pradeep Samantaroy (The Church of North India – United, also member of the Lambeth Conference Design Group). The group will work with the Archbishop of Canterbury and wider conference teams to construct an engaging programme relevant to key issues in the world and the life of the Communion.
Phil George, the CEO of the Lambeth Conference Company, said:
With the message of ‘God’s Church for God’s World’, it’s vital that planning for our meeting of bishops and spouses responds to the new world we find ourselves in since COVID-19. Despite the challenges and disruption that the pandemic has caused, we’ve also seen huge creativity and adaptability as churches have started to meet virtually. The opportunities that technology provides for online meeting and engagement, have opened up new ways for us to connect, pray and be community for one another. I’m looking forward to collaborating with the Working Group to help develop and deliver the Lambeth Conference conversation.
The timetable and further details for the pre-conference programme will be released in 2021.
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.
He sets out a vision of healthy human, societal and international relationships based on concern for the other, on listening, on sharing and on openness to new ideas and experiences, rejecting the increasing tendency for individuals and societies to retreat into bunkers of the familiar and the safe. It is a vision embedded in a deep Christology, reflecting the nature of the God who “so loved the world that he gave his only son” (John 3:16).
This is a book both thoughtful and joyful. It takes us at times to the worst of human behaviour but it offers us ways to forge a better world. Climate change, charity both personal and national, migration, human trafficking and the dignity of work are all here, along with many other topics of equal significance and urgency. It paints a possible future of a world that is holistic, recognising human dignity and holding it together with divine creation and penetrated throughout by the God whose love is authentically shown in mutual generosity (I John 3:17).
This is a truly ecumenical document, in which Pope Francis cites not only Orthodox Patriarch Bartholemew but also Dr Martin Luther King Jr and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He strikingly refers to his fruitful dialogue with Grand Iman Ahmad Al-Tayyeb to emphasise that the thrust of his argument, whilst rooted deeply in the Christian faith, is of universal force. He draws inspiration also from the writings of Mahatma Gandhi.
Whilst written from a profoundly, inspiringly Christian stance, Pope Francis explicitly sets out a vision to which non-believers can subscribe. One would have to be extraordinarily narrow-minded not to pay attention to his clarion call for action for purely sectarian or similar reasons.
This remarkable Pope has done the world another service by bringing together in one text such a wealth of insight into some of the most pressing issues of our time. It is a volume which will repay reading and re-reading. It is my earnest hope that it will be not only read but acted upon by those in power throughout the world.
In March it was announced that due to the COVID-19 pandemic and global restrictions on travel and mass gatherings, the Lambeth Conference of 2020 would need to be rescheduled to the British summer of 2021.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has now taken the important decision to reschedule the Lambeth Conference by a further year to the British summer of 2022. The conference will meet in 2022 in Canterbury. In the above filmed message to the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop has also announced that a wider programme will be developed before and after the event delivered virtually and through other meetings.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the Archbishop of Canterbury and conference planning teams have been monitoring the situation, following relevant advice from public and global health authorities as it becomes available. They have also undertaken ongoing consultation with Primates, bishops and spouses – about the impact of COVID-19 in their countries.
As with most large scale events and conferences of this nature – planning for events in such an unstable climate is difficult. As an international gathering (the Lambeth Conference invites bishops and spouses from over 165 countries) there are a significant number of uncertainties that make preparations for a 2021 meeting challenging.
Whilst some lock down measures are starting to ease in some countries, social distancing measures, travel restrictions and quarantine measures could impede logistics and delegates’ travel planning for the foreseeable future. There are also the risks of a potential second wave of the virus and the reality that there are different phases in how the pandemic is spreading around the world – with no vaccine yet available.
Prioritising the health and safety of our event attendees
The safety and health of conference delegates is of utmost priority to the Lambeth Conference Company. In addition, Bishops and spouses attending the conference have an important leadership role in their dioceses. As well as providing pastoral support to their churches and congregations, many are also involved in coordinating volunteering and bolstering support services, as churches of the Anglican Communion play their part in responding to the COVID-19 crisis around the world.
In consideration of all these factors –the decision has been taken to postpone until the British summer of 2022. Whilst the challenges of the pandemic will be ongoing for many years to come, it is hoped that by holding the event in 2022, restrictions on large events and travel may have eased making conditions more favourable for this important gathering to occur.
Between now and the conference, the Lambeth Conference organising teams will work to consult with the bishops and spouses of the Anglian Communion to ensure that the experiences of COVID-19 in their countries – and wider issues of church and global concern – are built in to scoping the priorities and outcomes of the conference programme.
Alongside this, the conference team will be sharing different resources with bishops and spouses, to help them with their thinking and preparations for the event. These may include Bible resources, group discussion tools and special papers on matters relevant to the Anglican Communion. These will be available through a new Lambeth Conference App and online resource hub on the conference web site launching in the months ahead.
On Monday 15th June, to mark the reopening of churches for individual prayer, Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby prayed together in Westminster Cathedral and Abbey to mark this ‘moment of grace,’ as the Cardinal said in his homily for Corpus Christi.
As the West Doors opened for the first time in nearly three months, they were greeted by Acting Administrator Fr Daniel Humphreys and Precentor Fr Andrew Gallagher.
Proceeding into the sacred space, they knelt in socially-distant prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.
Leaving the Cathedral, they walked across Victoria Street to Westminster Abbey.
Arriving at the Abbey, they were greeted by the Dean of Westminster Dr David Hoyle, who took them to the Shrine of St Edward the Confessor where they prayed in silence.
Praying together was a visual reminder of the importance of prayer in churches and to emphasise the significance of this day.
A steady stream of visitors came throughout the day to the Cathedral, which had been transformed by a number measures to maintain hygiene and social distancing. There was a prayerful atmosphere and a feeling of joy and relief to be praying once again before the Blessed Sacrament in the Cathedral.
Two of the country’s most senior church leaders visited Westminster Abbey today (Monday 15th June) when the Great West Door opened for the first time in three months since churches were closed for the Covid-19 lockdown.
Following Government guidance, the Abbey now has re-opened for private prayer. Two of the first visitors were the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby; and Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster.
They were welcomed to the Abbey by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle, and taken to the Shrine of St Edward the Confessor behind the High Altar where they all prayed in silence.
The Dean said after the visit:
“In Westminster, we rejoice as we open the doors of the Abbey with the words ’Peace to this house’. We have talked so much about isolation in recent months. For many that has been a heavy burden. Today, the Abbey opens for private prayer; public worship will follow later. This is a good moment to be reminded, by the two Archbishops, that there is no isolation in prayer. Prayer brings us into the presence of God, into the communion of saints and into the company of the whole church. Today we are in the best of company.”
Though the Abbey has been closed to the public since the end of March, clergy and residents have continued to worship in the precincts. The Abbey has also produced a podcast of readings, prayers and a short sermon on Sundays and festivals. HRH The Prince of Wales recorded a reading for the Easter Day podcast.
Westminster Abbey was founded by King Edward the Confessor but though his church was finally consecrated on Holy Innocents’ Day, 28th December 1065, he was too ill to attend and died a week later. He was officially canonized as Saint and Confessor by Pope Alexander III in February 1161. The shrine, at which the Archbishops prayed today, which contains his mortal remains was completed in 1269 when Henry III rebuilt his ancestor’s church. It is now a place of pilgrimage particularly during Edwardtide in October each year.
This week, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster wrote to both the Israeli Ambassador, Mark Regev, and the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, expressing their opposition to any move by the Government of Israel to annex West Bank territory after 1 July 2020.
These letters followed the recent warning from the leaders of Churches in the Holy Land that the Government of Israel’s proposed annexation of West Bank territory would “bring about the loss of any remaining hope for the success of the peace process.”
In each letter they made clear they “unambiguously support the fundamental right of Israel’s citizens to live in peace and safety but these prospects can only be secured through negotiation rather than annexation.” It is essential that both Israelis and Palestinians may live without violence or the threat of violence from each other or other armed groups, the Cardinal and Archbishop emphasised.
On 1st December 1960 the Right Reverend Geoffrey Fisher flew from Jerusalem to Rome and the following morning was received in private audience by Pope Saint John XXIII. It was the first visit of an Archbishop of Canterbury to the Pope since Archbishop Arundel in 1397. It was also the first visit of its kind, that of a head of a Christian communion to the Pope, with which the newly formed Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity was involved. The extent of that involvement is difficult to establish. The Secretariat’s first secretary, Mgr Willebrands, had met Archbishop Fisher at a meeting of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches in St Andrew’s, Scotland, in August 1959. Shortly afterwards Pope John communicated his willingness to meet the archbishop leading to speculation that Willebrands and Fisher came up with the plan at the WCC meeting. The use of WCC meetings to establish bilateral relations was frowned upon and so Fisher firmly denied that the visit was anything other than his idea and initiative.
Despite Willebrands meeting with Fisher, no one at the SPUC had specialist knowledge of Anglicanism or the archbishop, and so in preparation for the visit the Secretariat contacted the British Jesuit Bernard Leeming who had taught at the Gregorian but had since returned to Oxford. Leeming wrote three times giving his appraisal of Fisher and his communion. In these early days the Secretariat was on a steep learning curve.
Lambeth Palace announced the archbishop’s trip on 3rd November: he would be travelling to Istanbul to visit the Ecumenical Patriarch, then to Jerusalem and finally to Rome where he would visit Pope John. The news was greeted enthusiastically by some but with suspicion by many others, both Anglican and Catholic. Anglicans and other British Christians of a more evangelical or Protestant stripe opposed the visit fearful that the archbishop was selling out. On the day he arrived in Rome Fisher preached at Evensong in All Saints Anglican Church. The sermon unfavourably contrasted the papal monarchical governance of Catholicism with the more collegial structure of Anglicanism. This was political move on Fisher’s part to assuage fears in his own communion. When asked at a press conference later about the criticism of his visit he invited those critics to read his sermon and be reassured of his commitment to Anglicanism.
There were also considerable anxieties on the Catholic side. Cardinal Tardini, the Secretary of State, had opposed the visit and was determined to minimise its impact in the press. No one from the Vatican greeted Archbishop Fisher when he landed at Ciampino. Instead he was met by Sir Peter Scarlett, the British Minister to the Holy See, who gave Fisher Tardini’s conditions for the visit: there were to be no photographs at all; Fisher should not visit the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity; there should be no press release, and no Vatican officials should be invited to the reception for Fisher at the British Minister’s house.
Notwithstanding the concerns on both sides, Fisher was well received by Pope John and the two Christian leaders spoke for over an hour. Later Fisher would recount some details of the conversation. He thanked the Pope for the establishment of the new Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, and Pope John responded that Fisher would be meeting with Cardinal Bea that afternoon, directly countermanding Tardini’s instructions. That meeting, which also included Mgr Willebrands and the Revd John Satterthwaite, General Secretary of the Church of England’s Council for Foreign Relations, gave an opportunity to talk about relations between the two communions and about the process of nominating observers to the forthcoming Vatican Council.
An immediate fruit of the visit was the appointment of Canon Bernard Pawley as a permanent personal representative to the Holy See. When the SPCU sent out invitations to World Communions for observers to the Council it was the Anglican Communion which was first to respond nominating three theologians led by Bishop John Moorman and accompanied by Pawley.
Amongst the observers one of the most enthusiastic was the Methodist Church historian and ecumenist Professor Albert Outler from Southern Methodist University, USA. Outler would later recall that there were a broad range of opinions among the observers which he categorised into camps of “skeptics”, “realists” and “visionaries”. Seated beneath the statue of St Longinus the observers had an excellent view of proceedings and were provided with texts, translations, and meetings with periti all organised by the staff of SPUC. The event of the Council enabled the new dicastery to establish excellent relations with other Christian communions through the observers. Outler described “the supernatural charity of our hosts in the Secretariat that gathered and held us together”. However, in distinction to the earlier visit of Archbishop Fisher this hospitality now extended beyond the staff of the secretariat. Outler talked of the observers being overwhelmed by the “warmth and breadth of Catholic hospitality” and not only from SPUC, “but from everyone in Vatican City, from the Swiss Guard to the Vatican Infirmary to the Pope himself”.
Three months after the close of the Council Archbishop Fisher’s successor, Archbishop Michael Ramsey visited Rome and met with Pope Paul VI in the Sistine Chapel and in St Paul’s Outside the Walls. In contrast to the 1960 visit this meeting of two Christian leaders received unrestricted media attention, there was a Common Declaration announcing the intention to begin a “serious dialogue” and there were bold gestures, none more memorable than Pope Paul’s gift of the episcopal ring he had worn as Archbishop of Milan.
In October 1967 the Methodist-Roman Catholic International Commission met for the first time in Ariccia, outside Rome. In the same year the Anglican-Roman Catholic Joint Preparatory Commission met three times. The Malta Report which it published laid out the three subjects which ARCIC I was to address: Eucharist, ministry and authority.
The Common Declaration of Archbishop Ramsey and Pope Paul noted that there were serious obstacles to unity between our two communions. Developments in the last sixty years, particularly the ordination of women and questions of human sexuality, have brought new difficulties. Nevertheless, as Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby made clear in their Common Declaration of 2016, such obstacles “must not lead to a lessening of our ecumenical endeavours” nor alter our commitment to dialogue.
Today we recognise that behind our differences lies the difference in governance referred to, albeit polemically, in Archbishop Fisher’s All Saints sermon. The dispersed authority structures of the Anglican Communion have led to enormous tensions which threaten its integrity and challenge it to find structures which can maintain its unity. The Catholic Church also recognises the need for reform of its own structures, the need to become a more synodal Church as articulated by Pope Francis on numerous occasions. The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission has addressed these issues by adopting the method of Receptive Ecumenism. Recognising the other as a community graced by the Holy Spirit we are able to discern “what the Holy Spirit has sown in them [our dialogue partner], which is also meant to be a gift to us” (Evangelii Gaudium 246). In its agreed statement, Walking Together on the Way, the commission envisages our two communions as pilgrim companions and as resources for one another as we reform and renew ourselves in fidelity to Christ. Walking together in this way we also grow together, becoming more recognisable to one another as authentic Christian communities.
After Archbishop Fisher’s visit to Rome one English newspaper featured a cartoon of the Pope and Archbishop with the caption, “So long, see you in 2360”. However, Fisher himself addressing the Church of England Assembly had opined, “in time it ought not to be more unusual for Christian leaders to meet in this way”. Happily the Archbishop’s words were the more prophetic. It is now expected that Christian leaders meet in this way, exchange warm fraternal greetings, pray together, and give common witness to the Christian faith. The most recent example of such common witness was given in Pope Francis’s video message recorded to be broadcast as part of Archbishop Justin Welby‘s Pentecost liturgy. In the message Pope Francis prays that Catholics and Anglicans together might be “witnesses of mercy for the human family” because “We cannot ask others to be united if we ourselves take different paths.” Sixty years of fostering relations between our churches has done much to unite our Christian witness to the world.
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 Pope’s message contrasted God “infecting” the world with life at Pentecost, with the contagion that has ravaged the world during the coronavirus pandemic. Pope Francis describes the Spirit as the Comforter and as the closeness of God who “assures us that we are not alone” and gives “that gentle strength that always inspires courage, even amid suffering”.
The Pope also prays for world leaders and expresses the hope that the pandemic will be an opportunity to hear the gospel message of repentance announced by Peter at the first Pentecost. In a striking phrase Pope Francis warns that we have been “anaesthetized before the cry of the poor and the devastation of our planet” and that we cannot return to former ways.
This is the second time that Pope Francis has contributed a video–message to Thy Kingdom Come. Last year, during the retreat that the Pope and Archbishop jointly hosted for spiritual and religious leaders from South Sudan in Casa Santa Marta, Archbishop Welby invited Pope Francis to record a message on the Archbishop’s phone. The Pope’s participation demonstrates his support for the Archbishop’s Thy Kingdom Come movement as a call to unity, heeding the prayer of Jesus “that they may all be one … so that the world may believe” (Jn 17:21).
Despite the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, like other dialogues, is finding new ways to continue its work. Its plenary session scheduled to meet in Northern Italy this May was transferred into an online meeting over four days (12-15 May). Commission members were able to exchange texts using email and discuss them via an online platform. The Commission is preparing for two further online meetings later in the year. Work for these meetings will be prepared by subgroups of the Commission also working through online meetings. In this way, it is hoped that ARCIC can maintain momentum in working towards an agreed statement on how, in communion, the local and universal church discerns right ethical teaching. A communiqué was issued at the conclusion of the meeting.
The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission was due to meet this year in the monastery of Bose in Northern Italy from 9–16 May. Due to the coronavirus pandemic it was impossible for members to travel to this venue and so the Commission convened virtually online. We are grateful to the community of Bose for its generosity and understanding that we were not able to meet in person. To enable the participation of members from around the world and across many time zones (New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Europe, the Caribbean, Canada and the United States) the Commission met over four days (12–15 May) for two hours, beginning at 12 noon London time each day. Various sub-groups also met directly before and after these plenary meetings. Each day’s meeting began with a time of prayer, and the group remembered in particular Bishop Robert Christian, OP, who sadly died after the last plenary in Jerusalem.
ARCIC III’s mandate identified “two interrelated areas as critical for further work: the Church as Communion, local and universal, and how in communion the local and universal Church come to discern right ethical teaching”. The Commission addressed the first ecclesiological part of its mandate in the agreed statement, Walking Together on the Way published in 2018. ARCIC’s focus now, therefore, is the process es of ethical discernment operative in the communion of the Church. Much of the work of the virtual plenary meeting centred on the schema developed by a sub-group during ARCIC’s 2019 plenary in Jerusalem and since adopted by the whole Commission. Papers were prepared on how discernment is understood within each tradition, the status of ethical teaching, and to what extent ethical differences have proved Church-dividing in Christian history. The Commission also heard presentations regarding the sources and discernment of the Church’s social teaching.
In its final meeting the Commission considered its future work and decided to refine the schema with a view to two further virtual meetings in the autumn of this year, and then for a drafting group to prepare a text for the plenary in 2021 (8-15 May).
The Most Revd Dr Philip Freier
Most Reverend Bernard Longley
Dr Moeawa Callaghan
The Revd Dr Isaias Ezequiel Cachine
The Revd Canon Garth Minott
The Most Revd Linda Nicholls
The Revd Dr Alexander Ross
The Revd Dr Peter Sedgwick
The Rt Revd Christopher Hill (Consultant)
Sister Margaret Atkins OSA
Reverend Father Albino Barrera OP
Reverend Father Paul Béré SJ
Dr Kristin Colberg
Professor Sigrid Müller
Dr Emmanuel Nathan
Reverend Father Vimal Tirimanna CSsR
Professor Paul Murray (Consultant)
Professor Dr Myriam Wijlens
The Revd Dr William Adam (Anglican Co-Secretary)
Reverend Anthony Currer (Catholic Co-Secretary)
The Ven Jonathan Gough (Minutes)
The Revd Neil Vigers (Anglican Communion Office)
Changes to the Commission:
Very sadly the Most Reverend Robert Christian, OP, died suddenly in July 2019. Due to pressures of work, Dr Paula Gooder has had to resign from the Commission and Sister Margaret Atkins announced that she also feels unable to continue due to other commitments.
A new volume of the “Exchange of Gifts” series of the Vatican Publishing House (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, LEV) has been issued. Entitled “Diversi e uniti. Comunico quindi sono” (“Diverse and United: I communicate, therefore I am”), the book draws together a selection of Pope Francis‘s writings in which he reflects on human relationships – the relationships that exist between people created in the image of God.
The text is introduced by Most Reverend Dr Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual leader of Anglicans worldwide. In his preface, Archbishop Welby writes, “My brother in Christ, Pope Francis, lays before us in his words the promise of divine love and mercy: the love that God has for His people and the invitation that God gives to each of us to be in a relationship with Him”.
“Diversi e uniti” includes a previously unpublished chapter entitled “With the gaze of Christ” in which the Holy Father reflects on how for truly human communication it is necessary “to enter into contact with the world and with others, and to build relationships”, explaining that “without this look of love, human communication… can easily become only a dialectical duel”. Communication can then become not simply a means of exchanging information, but of building communion. He goes on to reflect that effective dialogue means being secure in one’s own identity, but also recognizing the identity of the other and being open to their freedom.
The “Exchange of Gifts” series has an ecumenical focus, with most volumes including a preface written by representatives of other Churches or Ecclesial Communities. The first two volumes of the series had been prefaced respectively by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and by Patriarch Kirill of the Moscow Patriarchate
The LEV’s catalogue also includes Acta Œcumenica the new annual publication of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity which substitutes and continues on from “Information Service”.
The Department for Unity, Faith and Order in the Anglican Communion has at its core the search for deeper unity between Christians, be that within and between the churches of the Anglican Communion or between the Anglican Communion and other Christian churches and bodies.
Much of the work of Unity, Faith and Order (which goes by the extra-terrestrial acronym UFO) is taken up with encouraging Christians to talk together. Over the course of the last century much work has been done to break down mutual suspicion and division between churches by patient dialogue and the building up of relationships. This happens at the local level, where Christians find that when they come together to pray or get involved with mission and ministry that they have more in common than they first thought. It also happens at national and international level, when theologians from different churches and traditions talk together to come to agreement on issues that have previously divided them.
Looking at what UFO has done over the last few months gives a flavour of the work and its importance. We have organised and supported a number of international dialogues with outrageous acronyms – there is ICAOTD, where Anglicans and the Eastern Orthodox have been finding significant agreement on the subject of climate change and issues surrounding the end of life; there is IRAD, where Anglicans have, through dialogue, come to an agreement on the nature of the church with the Reformed churches (including those known as Presbyterian or Congregational); in AOOIC Anglicans have got to know much better the Oriental Orthodox churches, mainly based in the Middle East; and in ARCIC, the longest-standing of the current dialogues, Anglicans and Roman Catholics are beginning to explore how each church makes important decisions on ethical teaching. We hope to start some conversations with Pentecostal churches at the world level soon – but we don’t yet have an acronym for that.
At the centre of UFO’s work is IASCUFO – the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order. IASCUFO meets annually to review the work of the dialogues, to advise the Instruments of Communion (including the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meeting) and to consider developments in ecumenical relationships, liturgy and doctrine from around the Communion. The last meeting of IASCUFO took place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in December 2019.
The conversations and dialogues comprise people from all over the world – reflecting the breadth of the Anglican Communion and drawing on the depth of knowledge, expertise and experience that the Communion possesses.
All of the work of UFO has as its backdrop and its underpinning the building up of the Church of Jesus Christ for its mission in the world: seeking that unity which is Christ’s will for his people.
The work of the Task Group which was established by the Archbishop of Canterbury after the January 2016 Primates’ Meeting has been commended by the Primates. The Task Group has called for a Season of Repentance, focused around the fifth Sunday in Lent this year (29 March), and has prepared a common Anglican Communion eucharistic liturgy and papers on Anglican identity.
In their communiqué, released at the end of last week’s Primates’ Meeting, the Primates explained that the Task Group was established “to look at how we might walk together despite the complexities we face.”
They added: “at this meeting we affirmed our continued commitment to walk together; we received the work of the Task Group and commended it to the other Instruments of Communion – the Lambeth Conference and the Anglican Consultative Council.”
They also recommended that a new group be established “to continue the work of the Task Group to explore how we live and work together in the light of the Lambeth Conference.
“We invite the Churches of the Anglican Communion to set apart the Fifth Sunday of Lent (29 March 2020) as a day to focus on the Prayers of Repentance produced by the Task Group.”
Last week’s meeting in Jordan was the third Primates’ Meeting since Justin Welby became Archbishop of Canterbury. His first, in January 2016, was called in part to address disagreements and division within the Anglican Communion. At that meeting, the Primates agreed to “walk together, however painful this is, and despite our differences, as a deep expression of our unity in the body of Christ.”
At the next meeting, in October 2017, the Primates reviewed the previous discussion and agreement to walk together, and said: “we endorsed this approach, which we will continue with renewed commitment”.
In 2018 and 2019 a series of six regional Primates’ Meetings were held at which the Anglican leaders discussed plans for the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops, taking place in July and August this year. Those plans formed part of the Primates’ discussions last week in Jordan.
A time for rekindling …
Together we wish you God’s richest blessings this Christmas and through the year ahead.
These few days at the turn of the year offer an opportunity for people who are normally very busy to give worthwhile time to family and friends. It can also be a stressful and difficult time for people who feel estranged from friends and loved ones to whom they were once close, and for those who feel they have no–one they can truly call a friend.
Over Christmas and New Year many people are able to rekindle relationships that have somehow gone sour. We are all capable of bringing light and love into another person’s life – perhaps someone for whom hope itself is fading, someone who desperately needs the rekindling of trust that only care and friendship can bring. Jesus Christ came into the world to bring us not only the light of his love but also the warmth of his friendship. Indeed, he assured his disciples that they were more than just “followers”; they were his “friends” (John 15.15).
Our country, north and south, truly needs the rekindling of wholesome relationships – socially and politically, nationally and internationally – and our prayer this Christmas is that men and women of integrity will find the generosity and courage they need to lead and take the initiative in making these crucial relationships work.
As our sharing in ministry here in Armagh will soon be coming to a close, we take this opportunity publicly to thank God for the warm friendship we have enjoyed together (and will continue to enjoy, albeit in a different mode), and we pray as one that 2020 may be a year of rekindling true friendship for all the people of Ireland.
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh
Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh
The Anglican-Roman Catholic Bishops’ Dialogue of Canada (ARC-B) held its most recent meeting in the Toronto area from November 27-29, 2019. The annual meeting facilitates opportunities for the Anglican and Roman Catholic Bishops to share, learn, and discuss about their respective pastoral activities, update one another on the news from our churches, and further the aims of Christian unity in Canada. The Bishops specifically discussed issues relating to ecumenism, freedom of religion and conscience in Canadian society, interfaith partnerships, and various challenges and opportunities in chaplaincy ministry in military, corrections, and medical contexts. The ARC-B members were also joined for part of the meeting by the Roman Catholic and Anglican co-chairs of the Anglican-Roman Catholic theological dialogue of Canada (ARC) to discuss ARC’s current focus on the operations of synodical consultation and decision making in the two traditions. For several years now, both ARC-B and ARC have worked closely with one another, mutually enriching one another’s work and reflections.
Throughout the meeting, Bishops planned and devoted a significant amount of time and reflection to the subject of their mutual and ongoing efforts of renewal and reconciliation with the Indigenous Peoples of Canada. This discussion was enriched and deepened by the generous participation of Archbishop Mark McDonald, the National Anglican Indigenous Archbishop, who was invited as a guest speaker to the meeting. In a spirit of dialogue and learning, the Anglican and Roman Catholic Bishops identified many areas of current and potential collaboration in one another’s efforts towards reconciliation with the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples of Canada, in a spirit of humility and trust.
The ARC-B dialogue was formed in 1975 shortly after the Anglican–Roman Catholic theological dialogue in Canada (ARC). The dialogue is co-sponsored by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Anglican Church of Canada.
Catholics and Anglicans in Canada have been working on their relationship ever since Gen. James Wolfe surprised Gen. Louis-Joseph, Marquis de Montcalm on the Plains of Abraham in the fall of 1759.
By 1763 King Louis XV had no choice but to cede France’s North American possessions entirely to England’s King George III. The practicalities of a Protestant king and his Protestant army trying to impose their religion on a majority Catholic population were such that the English made allowances for the Catholic Church while they granted land and paid clergy salaries for the Anglicans.
More than 250 years later, the dialogue between Catholics and Anglicans in Canada carries on, unhindered by royalty and without much reference to the Seven Years’ War. The latest round ended Nov. 18 in Toronto after three days with a presentation to theology students at Trinity College of the Toronto School of Theology at the University of Toronto.
At this stage, 54 years after the Second Vatican Council declared a special relationship between Catholics and Anglicans, the two sides have come up with broad agreements on the Eucharist, the place of Mary in the Church, the exercise of authority and defining the Church as communion. But still Catholic and Anglican parishes live separate lives, however much the theologians may agree.
Catholic co-chair of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue in Canada Bishop Brian Dunn blames the pressure on Catholic parishes to put out all the fires in their own communities.
“It’s like we’ve got too many issues to be concerned with the others,” Dunn said.
Archbishop Linda Nicholls, the Anglican Primate of Canada who sits on the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), sees far more co-operation between Anglicans and Catholics than may first appear.
“It tends to happen more in rural and isolated areas,” she said.
In urban Canada it’s easier for large parishes to soldier on independently, but in Saskatchewan’s Qu’appelle Valley there’s a covenant between Lutherans, Roman Catholics and Anglicans that encourages churches to work together, she said.
Rev. Marie-Louise Ternier, who pastors both All Saints Anglican and Our Redeemer’s Lutheran Churches in Watrous, Sask., agrees. But it’s also essential that people bring a solid understanding of their own traditions whenever the churches get together, she said.
“It’s important to know and understand and cherish our own traditions,” said the Anglican representative on the Canadian dialogue.
Anglican co-chair of the Canadian dialogue Rev. Bruce Meyers said there is still a problem with ignorance of how much agreement already exists between Catholics and Anglicans.
“There’s simply not a level of awareness about them (ARCIC documents that lay out areas of agreement),” he said. “It’s not trickling down to the people in our congregations because it hasn’t yet trickled down even to our clergy.”
Catholic representative on the Canadian dialogue Sr. Donna Geernaert encourages Catholics to let down their guard and listen to Anglicans.
“Mutual recognition that the expression of faith in the other tradition, however different, is a legitimate expression of Christian truth” is the starting point, she said. “We’re not copying, but we’re learning.”
Among the simple things Catholic and Anglican parishes can do together is youth ministry, said Dunn. Practical, parish-level ecumenism is a good way for people to learn their own traditions, according to the bishop.
“People need to know their own faith,” he said. “The exchange of gifts is the goal.”
Working for Christian unity and engaging in formal theological dialogues to promote it obviously raises questions about what the nature and mission of the church is.
In a project that took two decades of work by Orthodox, Anglican, Protestant, Catholic and Pentecostal theologians, the World Council of Churches in 2013 published a document summarizing the points of greatest consensus.
In late October, the Vatican gave the WCC its formal response to the document, which was called “The Church: Towards a Common Vision.”
The response, coordinated by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and posted on its website, included input from Catholic theologians from around the world, bishops’ conferences and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
What is meant by “church” is a key ecumenical question as Christians work and pray for the unity Jesus wanted his followers to have, the Catholic response said.
Or, as the WCC document said, “agreement on ecclesiology has long been identified as the most elemental theological objective in the quest for Christian unity.”
In the Creed, Christians profess a belief in the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic church,” yet they differ on what Christ intended for his church, how it should be governed and how it should minister in the world.
“From a Catholic perspective,” the Vatican said, “the term ‘church’ applies to the Catholic Church in communion with the bishop of Rome. It also applies to churches which are not in visible communion with the Catholic Church but have preserved the apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist, remaining true particular churches. Other Christian communities which have not preserved the valid episcopacy and Eucharist are called ‘ecclesial communities’” in official Catholic documents.
The Vatican said of the WCC document, “While it presents a remarkable degree of common thinking on a wide range of important issues, it does not claim to have reached full consensus, the full agreement on all issues which is necessary in order to achieve full visible unity among the churches.”
The text, however, does show common agreement on “significant ecclesiological doctrines,” the Vatican said. Further theological dialogue is needed and, especially, study of the WCC document by Christians of all denominations.
Of fundamental importance, the Vatican said, is the document’s affirmation that “certain aspects of church life are to be considered as determined by God’s will,” although the WCC did not find enough consensus yet to affirm that “the threefold ministry of bishops, presbyter and deacon” is one of those aspects. The Catholic Church, of course, believes it is.
Still, the Vatican said, the document “traces ordained ministry to the Lord’s choice of the Twelve” and, in that way, “promotes the view that certain aspects of the church’s order were willed and instituted by Christ himself.”
The Vatican praised the WCC document for recognizing that “the three essential elements of communion concern faith, worship and ministry or service” and for acknowledging that both Scripture and tradition are necessary sources for determining what “church” means.
While the document uncovers “greater common ground in ecclesiology” than many people would have imagined possible, the Vatican noted that it did not treat the papacy or the role and ministry of the pope, the successor of St. Peter.
Other “unresolved concerns include who may be baptized, the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the relation of the Eucharist to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and churches who do not practice baptism or Eucharist,” the Vatican said.
Many modern developments within the Catholic Church, like a growing understanding of the church as a communion given life by the Trinity and an increasing emphasis on the need for “synodality,” also are recognized by other Christian communities and present in the WCC document, the Vatican response said.
“The most fundamental convergence is found in the affirmation that unity among Christians is vital for fulfilling the church’s mission of proclaiming the good news of reconciliation in the Lord and that this is a biblical mandate,” the response said.
The WCC also asked churches and Christian communities to look at areas in their lives that may need “renewal” in the light of the agreed principles and the commitment to Christian unity.
“The Catholic Church,” the Vatican said, “commits itself to respond to the call to grow in holiness,” to continue the process of renewal begun at the Second Vatican Council, “to being the church of the poor and for the poor,” to continue developing its “current practice of synodality,” and to strengthening laypeople in their role as missionary disciples.
While it is “painful,” the response said, the Catholic Church insists its members cannot celebrate the Eucharist with members of other churches. However, it said, “we will renew our commitment to do together whatever we can do together, even in the context of the liturgy.”
Those possibilities, the Vatican said, include the rite of washing the feet, the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday and celebrating prayer vigils and liturgies of the Word for major feasts such as Christmas, Epiphany, the Ascension, Pentecost and the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.
Dear friends in Christ,
Saint John Henry Newman was a disciple of Jesus Christ who was uniquely graced by the Holy Spirit with many personal, intellectual, and spiritual gifts. Baptized into Christ in the Church of England, his particular journey of faithfulness, through the baptism we all share, would call him into service as a priest, scholar, and educator, and later as a Roman Catholic theologian and eventual member of the College of Cardinals. Along the way, his talents and charisms were nurtured and shared in a variety of ways in both our traditions, to their significant mutual benefit.
In this regard, we recall how his writing and teaching led to a renewal of contemporary theological reflection through a return to the sources of the apostolic and conciliar periods of early Church history. We recognize his influence on liturgical life and traditions of contemplative prayer, with its emphasis on beauty, devotion, and reverence, particularly through his life in the Congregation of the Oratory, which he established in England. A number of institutions of higher education have likewise drawn deep inspiration from Newman’s intellectual legacy, as marked by the establishment of Newman Centers on university campuses in North America and Great Britain since the late nineteenth century. We remember his pastoral heart, especially for young people, and how he sought to bring intellectual appreciation towards the mysteries of the faith, always keeping in mind the pastoral needs of people.
Though Newman’s life has at times been a source of tension between Anglicans and Roman Catholics in the past, today we are able to affirm together that Newman is a figure whom all of us can celebrate in common; a brother in Christ Jesus, in whose formation both our churches had a share. Indeed, we can even see in his legacy the planting of many seeds in both communities which later contributed to the ecumenical fruit which has grown between us at the global and local levels. This includes the work of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) and the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM), as well as the Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue of Canada (ARC Canada) and the Anglican-Roman Catholic Bishops’ Dialogue (ARC-B).
Today, as John Henry Newman is canonized in Rome, both the Anglican Church of Canada and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, give thanks together for his faithful witness of a Christian life. May it inspire baptized disciples of Christ, both Catholic and Anglican, to continued renewal, holiness, and service to others, “that all may be one” (John 17:21).
+ Richard Gagnon
Archbishop of Winnipeg
President, Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
Archbishop Linda Nicholls
Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada
Theologian, scholar, educationalist, poet, novelist, convert, cardinal and blessed are some of the outstanding titles of John Henry Newman we can celebrate on the occasion of his canonisation in Rome
Yet, 174 years after he converted from Anglicanism to Catholicism, it is his conversion that we remember as the great watershed moment of his life.
Newman, the convert, created a huge stir at the time as did those of his contemporaries who became Catholics in the Oxford Movement. There is no doubt but that the church then, and oftentimes since, saw Newman’s conversion as a boost to Catholicism that evoked a measure of triumphalism in the church.
But there should be no hint of triumphalism in his being declared a saint by the church. It is not the final “one in the eye” for Anglicanism that shows Newman’s conversion as the natural high point of his life. On the contrary, I see him as a saint of Christian traditions Catholic and Anglican.
I do so from a very simple realisation that if Newman was an Anglican today he may not have seen the need to convert, but would have worked quite happily in dialogue between the two churches.
Thus we would all benefit from his ministry.
One can only speculate that the ecumenical movement would have benefitted greatly as a result of his participation. In declaring Newman a saint, the church recognises in him a scholar who is as much of the Anglican tradition as the Catholic tradition. St John Henry might well be classed as the new patron of ecumenism. This would be a fitting accolade.
I never cease to be surprised by some new aspect of Newman’s work or life that suddenly crystallises in my mind as I reflect on his writings.
More often than not it is an aspect of his humanity that strikes me most and it pleases me no end to see Newman in a more human light rather than the exclusivity and apartness into which his scholarly habits have sometimes sidelined him.
An example of Newman’s humanity is his recognition of life’s struggles. It serves to ground him in life’s ordinary human experiences. He lived a long life but struggled throughout with poor health, brought on at times by his almost workaholic commitment to his duties. It is his ability to recognise his own human error and frailty that appeals to me.
Newman wrote: “We do not see the truth at once and make toward it, but we fall upon and try error and find it is not the truth. We grope about by touch, not by sight, and so by a miserable experience exhaust the possible modes of acting till naught is left, but truth, remaining. Such is the process by which we succeed; we walk to heaven backwards; we drive our arrows at a mark and think him most skilful whose shortcomings are the least.”
One cannot but admire the depth of the line: “we walk to heaven backward.” This grounds him in the mundane and reminds me of the discomforting “smell of the sheep” guidance of Pope Francis who, like Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, is a great admirer of Newman.
I welcome the many new books and articles that are symptoms of the Newman fervour prevalent in the run-up to his canonisation. I congratulate anyone who is engaged in such activity while admitting of my own book, being launched this week. Its purpose is what it says on the tin – to introduce people to Newman.
Newman was a poet and composer of prayers which are familiar to many and to mark the occasion of his canonisation I have composed a prayer to him. I have the added temerity to share it with you now.
“Dear St John Henry Newman,
You sought after truth and now you understand it perfectly.
Shine a little of that light of understanding on us your brothers and sisters in Christ.
Whenever we are becalmed and motionless in despair,
Inspire us with a gentle breeze to our backs.
Still our compulsion to judge others in the poorest of light.
Calm all our anger and save us
From the rough seas of frustration.
Lead us safely to port and a share in the perfect peace of God’s Kingdom.
Bishop of Killaloe Fintan Monahan is the author of ‘A Perfect Peace – Newman, Saint for Our Time’(Veritas) which will be launched at St Flannan’s College, Ennis, Co Clare, tomorrow evening (Wednesday, Oct 9th), Feast of Saint John Henry Newman.
Two dioceses in eastern Ontario — one Catholic and one Anglican — along with two religious orders are in talks to share one facility for all four entities’ archival records.
It’s a project that some involved hope sets a precedent for future sharing between different faiths that are seeing declining numbers.
“We hope this project will be trendsetting as an ecumenical archives project that relies heavily on partnerships of like-minded institutions,” said Veronica Stienburg, archivist for the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul in Kingston, Ont.
The project would see the archives of the Archdiocese of Kingston, the Sisters of Providence, the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph and the Anglican Diocese of Ontario all moved into the closed Church of the Good Thief in Portsmouth Village area of Kingston. The church was closed by the archdiocese in 2013 due to the deteriorating condition of the building and a lack of clergy to staff it. The archdiocese wants to keep the building however, which was added to the Canadian Register of Historic Places in 2008. It has a heritage property designation from the City of Kingston and is protected by an Ontario Trust heritage easement. Readers of The Catholic Register may also remember it from the columns of the late Msgr. Thomas Raby, who was pastor there late in his life.
“It was very important to the Archdiocese of Kingston that they keep ownership of the church building and repurpose it in a respectful manner,” said Stienburg.
It will be called St. Dismas Archives at the Church of the Good Thief and will have a website up and running within the next few weeks.
“We wanted an ecumenical name that reflects the history of the building while respecting the religious nature of the various archives it will house and respecting the ties the community has to the church,” she said.
This historic building dates back to 1892 when construction began and was completed in 1894. Its limestone was quarried, cut and carried to the site by convict labour from nearby Kingston Penitentiary.
Discussions began in 2014 regarding converting the church into an archive, and the Archives Project Team, of which Stienburg is a member, was created in 2015. The archdiocese’s records are currently stored in several different locations. It soon found the archdiocese was not the only religious organization seeking an archive, as the Religious Hospitallers have been in temporary space and the Sisters of Providence archive will soon be looking for a permanent home as the motherhouse property is developed into Providence Village. The Anglican diocese also expressed interest in getting involved after it sold its Diocesan Centre in 2016
The team also determined it would need to sell off the rectory and surrounding land to fund the project, said Stienburg. The rectory and surrounding land were severed in 2017 and sold a year ago to Zalcho Construction for residential development. Zalcho has been working with the archdiocese to maintain one vision made up of two separate enterprises in a park-like setting that will respect the heritage of the site while also breathing new life into it.
Plans call for all four archives to be combined in a renovated Church of the Good Thief, which will need extensive work done on its exterior and a redesigned, climate-controlled interior. That work has been contracted to Terry White of +VG Architects of Toronto, the architect behind the restoration of Toronto’s St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica. Stienburg said the restoration of the tower is to begin in the spring. The project should be completed by the end of 2022.
The re-purposing of church buildings is something all denominations will be dealing with as fewer people are in the pews and denominations try to work out what to do with excess properties. The archive team took part in the “Re-imagining Places of Faith Symposium” in Kingston in June where Stienburg said “we learned of projects from across different denominations that are bringing new life to their church buildings while keeping their values.”
Though plans are moving forward, Stienburg said no formal agreements have been signed with any of the partners. However, all have expressed an interest in being part of the project and the Religious Hospitallers and Sisters of Providence archivists are part of the Archives Project Team. The archdiocese expects to enter “into more substantive talks” with the Anglican diocese this fall.
“The specifics of how the partnerships will work have yet to be settled,” said Stienburg. “Formal agreements will hopefully be signed with all the partners in the next year.”
Fr Paul Béré, SJ will be awarded the Ratzinger Prize in Theology by Pope Francis on 9th November 2019. In announcing the news the President of the Ratzinger Foundation, Fr Frederico Lombardi, made particular mention of Fr Béré’s membership of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission. Father Béré was appointed as a member of ARCIC in 2018.
Originating from Burkino Faso, though born in Ivory Coast, Fr Béré entered the Jesuits in 1990. He completed a doctorate at the Biblical Institute in Rome and has taught Old Testament and biblical languages at the Jesuit theologate in Abidjan (Ivory Coast) and more recently has been appointed to teach in the Biblical Institute in Rome. Fr Béré has led several important projects for the development of theology in Africa, participated in the establishment of the first Jesuit School of Theology in Africa and launched a journal to promote research in African theology. His participation as an expert in several synods of bishops and his contribution to the General Secretariat of the Synods have enabled Africa to establish itself in the world of theological research. In recognising him the Ratzinger Foundation paid tribute to this contribution he has made to the development of theology in Africa.