Stories of iarccum from the Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogues
When his Grace, Archbishop Justin Welby, visited Rome in June 2014, Pope Francis, in his address to the Archbishop said, quite simply, “We must walk together.” The image of the journey undertaken together was already a theme common to a number of papal speeches, and part of Pope Francis’s vision of the Church. Addressing clergy and lay-people in Assisi on 4 October 2013, he said, “I think this is truly the most wonderful experience we can have: to belong to a people walking, journeying through history together with our Lord, who walks among us! We are not alone; we do not walk alone. We are part of the one flock of Christ that walks together.” This conception of the Church has much to offer our ecumenical relationships. The image has now been used in a variety of different contexts and has been enthusiastically taken up by other Christian leaders. However, two moments in Anglican-Catholic relations that occurred in 2016 have given a fuller sense to its meaning and enable us to discern with greater clarity what walking together with our ecumenical partners might mean.
These two moments came at the beginning and the end of a vespers service celebrated by Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin Welby at San Gregorio al Celio on 5th October. The vespers celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the historic meeting between Blessed Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey in 1966. On that occasion the first Common Declaration between a Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury was published. It signalled the desire of both communities to work towards a “unity of truth”.
In late September and early October I participated in a pilgrimage to Canterbury and Rome as part of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM). The vision of the IARCCUM pilgrimage was to bring 19 “pairs” of bishops, Roman Catholic and Anglican, from different regions and countries, to share in a common experience of formation and prayer that would lead to commissioning by Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby. The pilgrimage commemorated the anniversary of Archbishop Michael Ramsey‘s 1966 visit to Pope Paul VI, a meeting that led to the establishment of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) and the beginning of official theological dialogue between the two communions.
This pilgrimage was a transformative event for me. I have been involved in ecumenical work throughout my ordained ministry, with Roman Catholics and other Christians, both of the “faith and order” and the “life and work” sort. Since 2010 I have been co-chair of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Consultation USA (ARC-USA), the bilateral dialogue between the Episcopal Church and the Roman Catholic Church in this country. These relationships over the years have enriched my life and ministry.
The pilgrimage experience was unlike anything else that I have participated in my life in the church. It moved my commitment to ecumenism to a deeper level. Some of the paired bishops were not able to attend, but 36 of us ended up undertaking the pilgrimage. The time spent together in the historic sites of Canterbury and Rome established and deepened relationships, and re-initialized the work of practical cooperation between the churches that is at the heart of IARCCUM.
A group of Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops have acknowledged both churches’ failure to protect children, women and indigenous peoples. In a statement issued by the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) today following the group’s historic meeting in Canterbury and Rome last month, they call on the Church to repent and seek justice for victims. They say that, “at the foot of the Cross we, as bishops, have reflected on an ‘ecumenism of humiliation’. We lament our failures and share the brokenness of our church communities.”
They continue: “We failed to protect vulnerable people: children from sexual abuse, women from violence, and indigenous peoples from exploitation. “In this communion of shame, we confess that our own feeble witness to God’s call to life in community has contributed to the isolation of individuals and families, and even to that secularisation which removes God from the public space. We, as bishops, are called to lead the church in repentance and to seek justice for the abused.” The bishops have called their statement “an appeal from the IARCCUM bishops to the bishops and the people of the Anglican and Catholic communities.”
A call for Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops from around the world to work more closely together in witness and joint mission is part of the ongoing fruit of a unique eight-day gathering held earlier this fall in Canterbury and Rome, says Regina Archbishop Donald Bolen. “We were commissioned as pairs of bishops to go and work together, to witness together wherever possible, and to encourage our brother bishops to work together,” says Bolen, one of the bishops from around the world commissioned for the task by Pope Francis and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.
“The ongoing story is what the pairs of Anglican and Catholic bishops can do together across Canada, and across the world.” The purpose of the summit was to discover where Catholics and Anglicans can give greater witness to their common faith and collaborate in mission to the world, based on 50 years of dialogue and the agreed statements of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) and the IARCCUM document, “Growing Together in Unity and Mission.”
If Christians are called to live their faith concretely, then they cannot leave out concrete signs of the unity to which Jesus calls them. And just because the formal Anglican-Roman Catholic theological dialogue has been forced to grapple with new church-dividing attitudes toward issues such as the ordination of women and the blessing of same-sex marriages, it does not mean that common prayer led by Anglican and Catholic leaders and concrete collaboration by Catholic and Anglican parishes are simply window dressing.
Dozens of Catholic and Anglican bishops and several hundred priests and laity from both communities gathered in Rome in early October to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Vatican meeting of Blessed Paul VI and Anglican Archbishop Michael Ramsey of Canterbury, almost 50 years of formal theological dialogue through the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (known as ARCIC) and the 50th anniversary of the Anglican Centre in Rome.
The celebrations, highlighted by an ecumenical evening prayer service Oct. 5 with Pope Francis and Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, coincided with a meeting of a newer body, the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission, known as IARCCUM.
Pope Francis presides at the celebration of Vespers with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the meeting between Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey, and the institution of the Anglican Center in Rome.
Archbishop Justin took the pectoral cross from round his neck and presented it to Pope Francis during vespers at San Gregorio al Celio in Rome, which they led jointly. The Pope put then put the cross round his neck.
The Pope gave to Archbishop Justin a replica of the pastoral staff of Pope St Gregory.
The Archbishop arrived in Rome last night to join in celebrations to mark 50 years of closer and deeper relationships between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church. He will meet formally with the Pope tomorrow, their third such meeting.
Before its journey to Rome, Archbishop Justin blessed the Cross of Nails at a service in Lambeth Palace Chapel, during which Lambeth Palace became the 200th Partner of the Community of the Cross of Nails, an international network in 35 countries, which arose out of the vision of the former Provost of Coventry Cathedral, Richard Howard, who made a commitment to forgiveness and reconciliation following the destruction of the cathedral in 1940.
The ordination of women and “more recent questions regarding human sexuality” are serious obstacles in the path to unity between Anglicans and Roman Catholics; but they “cannot prevent us from recognising one another as brothers and sisters in Christ”, Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said in a Common Declaration. Speaking of the meeting between Pope Paul VI and Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey in 1966 – the first such public meeting of a Pope and Archbishop of Canterbury since the Reformation – and their Common Declaration, Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby said that their predecessors had “recognised the ‘serious obstacles’ that stood in the way of a restoration of complete faith and sacramental life between us. Nevertheless, they set out undeterred, not knowing what steps could be taken along the way, but in fidelity to the Lord’s prayer that his disciples be one.
“Much progress has been made concerning many areas that have kept us apart. Yet new circumstances have presented new disagreements among us, particularly regarding the ordination of women and more recent questions regarding human sexuality. Behind these differences lies a perennial question about how authority is exercised in the Christian community. These are today some of the concerns that constitute serious obstacles to our full unity. While, like our predecessors, we ourselves do not yet see solutions to the obstacles before us, we are undeterred. In our trust and joy in the Holy Spirit we are confident that dialogue and engagement with one another will deepen our understanding and help us to discern the mind of Christ for his Church. We trust in God’s grace and providence, knowing that the Holy Spirit will open new doors and lead us into all truth.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Pope Francis have commissioned 19 pairs of Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops from across the world to take part in united mission in their local areas. The bishops, selected by the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) were “sent out” for mission together by the Pope and Archbishop from the same church where Pope Gregory sent Saint Augustine to evangelise the English in the sixth Century. “Fourteen centuries ago Pope Gregory sent the servant of God, Augustine, first Archbishop of Canterbury, and his companions, from this holy place, to preach the joyful message of the Word of God,” Pope Francis told the bishops. “Today we send you, dear brothers, servants of God, with this same joyful message of his everlasting kingdom.”
Archbishop Justin Welby told them: “Our Saviour commissioned his disciples saying, ‘Peace be with you’. We too, send you out with his peace, a peace only he can give. “May his peace bring freedom to those who are captive and oppressed, and may his peace bind into greater unity the people he has chosen as his own.” The commissioning and sending out came in the setting of a Vespers service, led jointly by Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby, at the Church of Saint Gregory on the Caelian Hill in Rome.
Pulpit swaps, shared retreats, joint action on social issues and regular meetings between clergy are just some of the ideas for local expressions of unity between Anglicans and Roman Catholics taking shape during an ecumenical summit in Canterbury and Rome. This afternoon, during a service in the monastery church of San Gregorio al Cielo, Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will commission 19 pairs of Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops to implement local expressions of unity in their dioceses around the world. The commissioning of the 19-pairs of bishops has been organised by the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) as part of a week-long ecumenical summit marking the 50th anniversary of the first public meeting between a Pope and an Archbishop of Canterbury since the Reformation.
The summit, which began at the weekend in Canterbury Cathedral and is continuing now in the Vatican, will also mark the 50th anniversary of the Anglican Centre in Rome. “I have been deeply moved by what has been happening,” the Anglican Bishop of Sialkot in Pakistan, the Rt Revd Alwin Samuel, said. “To see Roman Catholics celebrating the Eucharist in Canterbury Cathedral was a miracle. “It is an answer to Jesus’ prayer that we may be one.”
‘ARCIC & IARCCUM: 50 years of walking together in faith’ is a symposium to be held Wednesday, 5 October 2016 at the Pontifical Gregorian University. Planned in conjunction with the IARCCUM pilgrimage, this symposium will be an opportunity to explore in detail some of the achievements of 50 years of dialogue between Anglicans and Roman Catholics.
Thirty-six IARCCUM Anglican and Catholic bishops, representing 19 different regions where Anglicans and Catholics live side by side in significant numbers, will meet in Canterbury and Rome for a summit meeting in October of this year. The bishops will arrive in Canterbury for the first leg of their meeting on 30th September. They will be staying at the Lodge in Canterbury Cathedral, will take part in the liturgical life of the Cathedral, and will make a pilgrim visit to the shrine of St Thomas à Becket, where Pope John Paul II and Archbishop Robert Runcie prayed together. The purpose of the meeting will be to discover new ways where, on the basis of the agreed statements of ARCIC, Catholics and Anglicans can give greater witness to their common faith, and particularly how they can collaborate in mission to the world. The meeting will begin by listening to the bishops’ own pastoral challenges. The bishops will also reflect on the previous documents of IARCCUM, and particularly, Growing Together in Unity and Mission. They will be accompanied by Dr Anna Rowlands of Durham University, who will be present at all the bishops’ discussions and will resource the meeting from her expertise in Catholic and Anglican Social Theology.
After nearly 50 years of discourse between the Catholic and Anglican communions, the official dialogue body wants to fine-tune how it studies the differences and similarities between two churches which both call themselves Catholic.
“ARCIC III hasn’t proved itself yet,” Sir David Moxon, Anglican co-chair of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, told The Catholic Register following an ecumenical evensong on Pentecost Sunday.
This third stage of the dialogue has been meeting since 2011, but has yet to publish a major document. It is currently studying how the Church arrives at moral teaching.
The official dialogue sponsored by the Vatican and the Archbishop of Canterbury is meeting in Toronto until May 18, when a concluding communique is expected from the meeting of 22 bishops, theologians and support staff. It is the first time the body has met in Canada and, to the knowledge of the participants, the first time in 50 years that ARCIC has met during Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit first revealed the global unity of the Christian message expressed in the diversity of languages from around the world.
Every year those who hold official positions in the Anglican Communion with regard to Roman Catholic relations meet with their counterparts in the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) for what are termed “the Informal Talks”. These are sessions when information is shared about developments in each Communion (including our ecumenical relations with other partners) and the progress in the dialogue between us is monitored and assessed.
I participate in these “Informal Talks” in my role as the Anglican Co-Chairman of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Communion for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) along with the Anglican Co-Chairman of ARCIC, who also happens to be the Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, Archbishop Sir David Moxon. The Anglican Communion’s Director of Unity, Faith and Order, the Revd Canon Dr Alyson Barnett-Cowan attends, as well as the Secretary General of the Communion, the Revd Canon Dr Kenneth Kearon. The Roman Catholic Church fields our opposite numbers.
At our recent sessions Canon Kearon, who has recently been elected Bishop of Limerick and Killaloe in his home Church of Ireland, was given a gift by Bishop Brian Farrell, the Secretary of the PCPCU. It was an Episcopal ring. Canon Kearon said of this moving gesture, “This is both a personal gift from someone who has become a good friend during our annual meetings and other conversations, and also symbolic of the deep relationships which now exist between our two Communions, which are now being expressed at every level of our Churches”.
It was a gesture reminiscent of the visit of Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey to Pope Paul VI in 1966. At that time, the Pope gave an Episcopal ring to the Archbishop. That historic meeting led to the setting up of the Anglican Centre in Rome and to the inauguration of the official dialogue between the two Communions.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby arrives in Rome on Saturday for a two day visit that will culminate on Monday in a meeting with Pope Francis in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace. On Sunday the Anglican leader will preach at Vespers at the church of St Gregory on the Caelian Hill, visit the two Anglican churches here in Rome and take part in a prayer service with the St Egidio community at St Bartholomew’s on the Tiber Island. During his packed programme, the Archbishop will also launch a new website for the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity and Mission (IARCCUM), showcasing ways in which members of the two communions are increasingly worshipping, working and witnessing side by side.
To find out more, Philippa Hitchen spoke with Canadian bishop Donald Bolen, co-chair of IARCCUM and Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan, director of Unity, Faith and Order at the Anglican Communion office in London and co-secretary of IARCCUM.
Church unity hasn’t happened yet, but Catholics and Anglicans have a new list of concrete suggestions for ways to bring the two churches closer.
Seven years after nine pairs of Catholic and Anglican bishops from around the world met in Mississauga, Ont., to talk and pray over 35 years of official dialogue, a joint commission of Catholic and Anglican bishops has produced a 42-page report which aims “to bridge the gap between the elements of faith we hold in common and the tangible expression of that shared belief in our ecclesial lives.”
The Pope, His Holiness John Paul II sent a message of greeting to the historic May 2000 gathering of Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops in Mississauga, Toronto, Canada. On the eve of his 80th birthday, the Pope expressed his hope that the meeting would “bear lasting fruit” and hasten unity of the two churches.
“For more than 30 years the Anglican and the Catholic Church have been on a journey towards the restoration of unity,” said the Pope in a statement read by Cardinal Edward Cassidy to 2,000 worshippers in St Michael’s Roman Catholic Cathedral in Toronto. “In some places there have been very positive developments … in other places we are not so far along the road [and] new and serious obstacles have slowed our progress. I pray that the spiritual bonds that have always lifted Catholics and Anglicans will be strengthened and deepened even further.”
Roman Catholic and Anglican bishops, paired from thirteen regions around the world, have begun their meeting in Canada in which they are reviewing and evaluating the accomplishment of thirty years of ecumenical relationship between Anglicans and Catholics in their areas. The pairs of bishops come from New Zealand, Canada, England, United States, Ireland, India, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Southern Africa, Uganda, Australia, Brazil and the West Indies.
The bishops are gathered in private session at the Queen of Apostles Renewal Centre near Toronto, Ontario, under the joint chairmanship of Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey and Cardinal Edward Idris Cassidy, President of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Their first day has begun with a morning of prayer and scriptural reflection. The following days will begin and end with common prayer.
Roman Catholic and Anglican bishops from thirteen regions around the world are to gather in Canada May 14-20 to review and evaluate the accomplishment of thirty years of ecumenical dialogue between the two traditions and to reflect on how the special relationship between them has been developing in different parts of the world.
This high level meeting is happening at a time when Anglicans and Roman Catholics around the world are exploring the possibilities for further steps toward visible unity.