Stories of news & opinion from the Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogues
In the spirit of the recommendation of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) that there should be regular meetings of Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops in individual countries to discuss common concerns, a sixth such meeting of Irish bishops took place in Dublin on Saturday, 28th September. Thirteen bishops were present representing the Irish Episcopal Conference and the House of Bishops. In an atmosphere marked by positivity and candour, the bishops discussed a wide range of issues of common interest in relation to the ministry and service churches offer in Irish society, both north and south of the border. These included education; engagement with young people; the World Meeting of Families, emphasizing its ecumenical possibilities; the plight of refugees and migrants; and current social issues. All the participants said the experience was very valuable as they shared insightful perspectives that engendered renewed commitment to promoting the Kingdom of God.
‘Walking together on the way’ is the title of a new document to be published by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, whose members met this month in Erfurt, Germany.
Despite some “difficult conversations” and “hard questions” over the past year, the Anglican and Catholic theologians who make up ARCIC III managed, at the May 14th to 20th meeting, to conclude the first part of their mandate, finding agreement on ways in which the two Churches are structured at local, regional and universal levels.
The new statement opens the way for the Commission to tackle the second part of its mandate on how the Churches, at local and universal level, are able “to discern right ethical teaching”.
But what does the new ecumenical text contain? And how will it affect ordinary Catholics and Anglicans in the pews? To find answers to those questions, Philippa Hitchen spoke to the Catholic co-secretary of ARCIC III, Fr Anthony Currer of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity.
Anglicans and Roman Catholics should see in each other “a community in which the Holy Spirit is alive and active,” the latest communiqué from the official ecumenical dialogue between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church says.
Members of the third-phase of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) met in the central German city of Erfurt early this month for their seventh meeting. They chose to meet in the city to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation – it is here that Martin Luther was ordained and lived as a monk.
During their meeting, the members of ARCIC agreed the text of a new statement looking at Anglican and Roman Catholic ecclesiology. Walking Together on the Way: Learning to be Church – Local, Regional, Universal, to be known as The Erfurt Document, will be published next year.
Pope Leo XIII’s papal bull Apostolicae Curae (1896), which declared Anglican orders “absolutely null and utterly void,” has long cast a shadow over the search for unity between Anglicans and Roman Catholics. Anglican churches’ ordination of women as priests is a further complication, as Pope John Paul II made clear.
Now one of the Vatican’s top legal minds seems to have opened the way to reconsider Pope Leo’s teaching on Anglican orders. “When someone is ordained in the Anglican Church and becomes a parish priest in a community, we cannot say nothing has happened, that everything is invalid,” said Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.
The disclosure comes in a volume of papers and discussions in Rome as part of an ecumenical forum on the Malines Conversations. Its title refers to a series of Anglican-Catholic conversations acting on the 1920 Lambeth Conference’s “Appeal to All Christian People,” a statement widely credited as foundational to modern ecumenism. The Malines Conversations met with only lukewarm support from Rome and Canterbury but are now considered an important ecumenical stepping stone.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Governors of the Anglican Centre in Rome are very pleased to announce the appointment of Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi, Primate of the Anglican Church of Burundi from 2005 until 2016 as the Representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Holy See and Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome. He succeeds Archbishop David Moxon who retires in June.
Born in 1948, Archbishop Ntahoturi grew up in a small village in Matana, Southern Burundi, the son of a poor farming family. After training at Bishop Tucker Theological College in Mukono, Uganda, he was ordained in 1973. He came to England to further his theological training at Ridley Hall and St John’s in Cambridge, where he is now an honorary Fellow, and then at Lincoln College, Oxford. After his studies, he returned to Burundi where he joined the civil service, becoming chief of staff to President Jean-Baptiste Bagaza. After the overthrowing of President Bagaza in 1987, in a military coup, he was jailed from 1987 to 1990. In 1992, he became Provincial Secretary of the Anglican Church of Burundi until 1997.
Meals for the poor, bibles for African victims of human trafficking, and a special Lenten cake. These were the gifts Pope Francis received from the Anglican community of Rome on his Sunday visit to All Saints Church.
On the occasion of its 200th anniversary, Rome’s Anglican parish offered Pope Francis several gifts, two for the poor in his name and another for his palate.
First, All Saints parish and its twin Catholic parish in Rome, Ognissanti (‘All Saints’ in English), said they would offer a meal every Friday evening for the poor around the Ostiense train station in Pope Francis’ name.
Second, of the 200 English bibles printed for the parish’s anniversary, 50 will be donated to ‘prostitutes in Western Africa who often ask for them’.
The bibles will be distributed by a network of sisters who help victims of human trafficking, many of whom end up in forced prostitution.
Finally, some of the best products of the Anglican Church, including homemade jams and mustards, as well as a ‘Simnel Sunday cake’.
The path toward Christian unity can’t be found isolated in a laboratory hashing out theological differences, but rather by walking together on a common journey, Pope Francis said.
While theological dialogue is necessary, Catholics and Anglicans can continue to “help each other in our needs, in our lives and help each other spiritually,” the pope said Feb. 26 while answering questions from parishioners of All Saints’ Anglican Church in Rome.
“This cannot be done in a laboratory; it must be done walking together along the way. We are on a journey and while we walk, we can have these (theological) discussions,” he said.
The pope made history as the first pontiff to visit the Anglican parish, which was celebrating the 200th anniversary of its establishment in Rome.
Invited by the Anglican community, Pope Francis took part in an evening liturgy and blessed an icon of Christ the Savior to commemorate the occasion.
Pope Francis has paid a visit to All Saints Anglican Church in the heart of Rome. This afternoon the Pope presided over an evensong service with the bishop of the Anglican Diocese in Europe Robert Innes.
Whilst at the Church the Holy Father also answered questions from the congregation. Responding to one question the Holy Father said a visit to South Sudan was being studied at the moment. He also said there was the possiblity that he would be accompanied by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.
The Pope also blessed a newly commissioned icon of Christ the Saviour.
It’s the first time a pope has visited an Anglican church in Rome and it comes as part of All Saints’ 200th anniversary celebrations.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I wish to thank you for your gracious invitation to celebrate this parish anniversary with you. More than two hundred years have passed since the first public Anglican liturgy was held in Rome for a group of English residents in this part of the city. A great deal has changed in Rome and in the world since then. In the course of these two centuries, much has also changed between Anglicans and Catholics, who in the past viewed each other with suspicion and hostility. Today, with gratitude to God, we recognize one another as we truly are: brothers and sisters in Christ, through our common baptism. As friends and pilgrims we wish to walk the path together, to follow our Lord Jesus Christ together.
You have invited me to bless the new icon of Christ the Saviour. Christ looks at us, and his gaze upon us is one of salvation, of love and compassion. It is the same merciful gaze which pierced the hearts of the Apostles, who left the past behind and began a journey of new life, in order to follow and proclaim the Lord. In this sacred image, as Jesus looks upon us, he seems also to call out to us, to make an appeal to us: “Are you ready to leave everything from your past for me? Do you want to make my love known, my mercy?”
Pope Francis will make a historic visit to an Anglican Church in Rome on Sunday. He’ll join the congregation at the Church of England chaplaincy of All Saints for a short Choral Evensong service; it will include the blessing of a specially commissioned icon and the twinning of All Saints with the Catholic parish of Ognissanti, a Rome church with strong ecumenical ties.
The event comes as part of the 200th anniversary celebrations for All Saints which began with a small group of worshippers holding the first Church of England liturgy on October 27th 1816. The current church, close to the Spanish steps, was built over half a century later, designed by one of the most famous British architects of the Victorian era, George Edmund Street. All Saints is the largest Anglican congregation in Italy and part of the [Church of England’s] Diocese in Europe.
The church, led by its chaplain, Rev. Jonathan Boardman, and assistant chaplain, Rev. Dana English, was recently granted legal recognition from the Italian State. Diocesan Bishop Robert Innes will be welcoming Pope Francis, together with his suffragan Bishop David Hamid.
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”.
The same year that the International Anglican–Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission produced Growing Together in Unity and Mission (hereafter, GTUM), the International Commission for Anglican–Orthodox Theological Dialogue published the Cyprus Agreed Statement, The Church of the Triune God (hereafter, CTG). This statement represents the fruits of the third phase of a dialogue between Anglicans and Orthodox that began in 1973, and its particular task was “to consider the doctrine of the Church in the light of the doctrine of the Trinity, and to examine the doctrine of the ordained ministry of the Church” (Introduction).
This is a rich document, well worth careful study. Since I have spent some time thinking recently about Anglican and Roman Catholic ecclesiology in Rome with my Covenant brethren, including a consideration of GTUM, I want to identify a few places in CTG that helpfully reinforce and expand much of what we find in GTUM, as well as a few places that are possibly in tension with GTUM when held up for comparison.
Our parish, St. Matthew’s Anglican Church, sits on a major street at the edge of the great city of Toronto, with over 2.5 million residents. Less than a kilometer away sits Our Lady of Peace Roman Catholic Church.
For years now, both parishes join together every Sunday night from November through Easter in a program called “Out of the Cold,” hosting homeless folks who flock from all over the city for a feast. After supper, many of the men choose to stay overnight and keep warm, sleeping on mats on the gym floor. Many sit and chat, or watch the nightly movie; others take the time to shower, and pick out warm clothes.
The last time I volunteered, I talked with a Roman Catholic lady struggling with her faith and the stance of her church. We talked about how much we have in common in doctrine and in practice, and how little we worship together and serve together. She was someone without much of a theological background, and so it was difficult to explain to her why Anglican orders are not received as valid, or how our Communion has drifted further from Rome doctrinally over the years. For her, these esoteric beliefs — doctrines — were getting in the way of real fellowship.
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 has this morning (Thursday) held a meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury and other Anglican Primates and bishops at the Vatican. The Pope told them that ecumenism was “never an impoverishment, but a richness” and he said that during the past 50-years of closer relationship between Anglicans and Catholics, “the certainty has deepened that what the Spirit has sown in the other yields a common harvest.”
And he urged them: “Let us never grow tired of asking the Lord together and insistently for the gift of unity.”
Addressing the Anglican leaders as “dear brothers and sisters in Christ”, he described the gathering as “a beautiful sign of fraternity”.
And he described the historic meeting 50 years ago between Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey – the first public meeting between a Pope and an Archbishop of Canterbury since the Reformation – as producing “many fruits.”
A number of news services have highlighted October 5’s considerable ecumenical events, in celebration of the 50 years of the Anglican Centre in Rome, founded after Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey‘s visit to Pope Paul VI in 1966. At that time, Pope Paul gave Archbishop Ramsey his episcopal ring, a gesture of lasting ecumenical significance. Matt Townsend and I reported at The Living Church on the papers at the symposium, as well as milestones on the way to a new ecumenism (“Ecumenism that Transforms”). ACNS noted the commissioning of 19 pairs of Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops, as part of a new phase of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity and Mission (IARCCUM). ACNS also provided further reporting on the bishops’ pilgrimage and the sort of work they hope to do upon their return to their dioceses. ACNS and The Living Church reported on the common declaration of Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin Welby. But none of them offered an interpretation of the numerous, highly significant ecumenical statements and gestures during the events in Rome, not least as they related to the papacy and the status of the Anglican episcopate.
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.”