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The fifth international meeting of the Malines Conversations Group took place in Cambridge, UK, between Sunday 19th March and Thursday 23rd March 2017. Under the patronage of Cardinal Godfried Danneels (Archbishop Emeritus of Malines-Brussels) and The Right Reverend and Right Honourable The Lord Williams of Oystermouth (former Archbishop of Canterbury), this informal group comprises Anglican and Roman Catholic theologians from seven different countries and meets with the blessing and support of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity and Lambeth Palace. It includes members of both ARCIC and IARCCUM. Last year’s meeting in Rome considered questions of ecclesiology, sacramentality and orders, whilst this year’s gathering continued to develop these themes whilst focussing in particular on discerning and developing methodology.
The Group was welcomed to Clare College, Cambridge, for Choral Evensong at which the preacher was The Very Revd Vivienne Faull, Dean of York, and for a dinner at which the Earl of Halifax spoke movingly about his ecumenically-pioneering great-Grandfather. The Group is also grateful for the welcome of King’s and Corpus Christi colleges, and for the hospitality extended to them by the Bishop of Ely, the Master of Trinity Hall, and the Master of Magdalene College, Lord Williams. Mgr Mark Langham, Catholic Chaplain to Cambridge University, celebrated the Eucharist with the group at Fisher House before offering them lunch.
During seminars and conversations, the group reflected on methodologies to “under-tunnel” some of the more complex remaining questions between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church. The group was guided in its thinking about scripture by The Revd Dr Will Lamb, Vice Principal of Westcott House, and in considering Patristic tradition by The Revd Dr Anders Bergquist. Canonical questions, in particular relating to the 1896 Bull Apostolicae Curae, were discussed in detail with two distinguished canonists The Revd Dr James Conn SJ and Professor Norman Doe. The group also continued its discussions on gender and ordination led by The Revd Professor Sarah Coakley (Norris Hulse Professor of Divinity at Cambridge) and Professor Paul Murray (of Durham University).
The meeting took place within the context of daily prayer in Clare College Chapel, as well as in joining the congregation at Ely Cathedral for Choral Evensong.
The Malines Conversation Group is immensely grateful to all its sponsors and supporters, Anglican and Catholic alike. A sixth meeting is planned for next Spring, in New Jersey, USA.