Press Release: Mechelen 1996 Meeting

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Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission II. "Press Release: Mechelen 1996 Meeting", ARCIC-II 370 (Mechelen, Malines, Belgium, 4 Sept. 1996).

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Press Release: Mechelen 1996 Meeting

ARCIC welcomes Malines Conversations Celebrations

The Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury encourage “fresh impetus” in Anglican-RC dialogue

Mechelen (Malines) is a place of great significance for Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue. Responding to an invitation from Cardinal Danneels, Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussel, ARCIC was very happy that its 1996 meeting coincided with the 75th anniversary celebrations of the Malines Conversations.

The Commission is delighted by the widespread interest shown in the Anniversary Celebrations. It especially appreciates the greetings brought to the Commission by Cardinal Cassidy from Pope John-Paul II, and the presence and words of the Arch­bishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey at the Celebrations. The “fresh impetus” in the work of dialogue which these have called for provides a stimulus for the Commission, especially as it works through difficult questions.

ARCIC members are honoured and encouraged by the presence at the Celebrations of Cardinal Willebrands, and several former members of the Commission. ARCIC wishes to express its sincere thanks to those who arranged the Celebrations, especially the Reverend Professor Adelbert Denaux, and to those who presented addresses.

The Cathedral of St Rombout in this city houses the tomb of its former Archbishop, Cardinal Mercier, whose hospitality enabled the conversations between Lord Halifax (Charles Lindley Wood), Abbe Portal and others to take place. His tomb lies in a chapel dedicated to ecumenism, and includes a tablet commemorating the conversations of 70-75 years ago. It is a further encouragement to ARCIC to find such an evocative and living ministry of memory of the tradition of ecumenical endeavour in this city. Anglican members of the Commission found it both remarkable and humbling, that a Catholic city in which there is no Anglican presence has preserved so strongly the vision of unity between the two Communions.

ARCIC celebrates this day as one to inspire renewed hope for our drawing closer in our common pilgrimage in the steps of Christ. The Commission would encourage all Christians to heed the call made by Pope John-Paul II in his greeting to us, to take up the opportunity afforded by the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 “to heal divisions between Christians”.

The Commission meeting

ARCIC’s meeting this year has considered further the question of Scripture, Tradition and the exercise of authority, especially the concept and practice of primacy in synodality and collegiality. The Commission believes that “remarkable progress” has been made between Anglicans and Roman Catholics as regards the issue of Authority, and looks forward to a third Statement being finalised after its 1997 meeting.

The Commission welcomed a new member to its ranks, Archbishop Patrick Kelly (Liverpool, England). The Anglican co-chair, Bishop Mark Santer, was unable to be present due to ill health; Bishop John Baycroft acted in his place. During the meeting members of the Commission were privileged to join with Cardinal Danneels for dinner.

The 1997 meeting will take place at the Virginia Theological Seminary, USA, from August 26th-September 4th.