News & Opinion from the Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogues
The Executive Director of the Living Church Foundation, Dr Christopher Wells, has been named as the next Director of Unity, Faith and Order for the Anglican Communion. Dr Wells will succeed the Venerable Dr William Adam, who was installed as Archdeacon of Canterbury last month.
As Director of Unity Faith and Order, Christopher Wells will lead and support the work of the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) – the international body that advises provinces, the Secretary General and the Instruments of Communion on ecumenical relations and doctrine. He will also serve as the lead staff member for Anglican Communion delegations to official international ecumenical dialogues.
The Vatican’s lead cardinal for promoting Christian unity has warned of an “ecumenical emergency” which undermines evangelisation, unless Churches can find a common purpose in the ecumenical movement.
Cardinal Kurt Koch, the prefect of the dicastery for promoting Christian unity, said in a message to the Anglican bishops attending the Lambeth Conference that a “common ecumenical witness to Jesus Christ in the present world is only possible when Christian churches overcome their divisions”.
He said that there were different visions of ecumenism, from Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox perspectives, so “asking questions about the goal of the ecumenical movement, and consequently of a more precise understanding of Church unity cannot simply be done in an abstract way”. Instead, “this questioning is always directed and informed by prior ecclesial decisions of a confessional nature”.
“This means that the still largely lacking agreement on the goal of the ecumenical movement is rooted in a still largely lacking ecumenical agreement on the nature of the Church and its unity.” This means, he continued, that “there are basically as many ecumenical goals as there are confessional ecclesiologies”.
From across the 165 countries of the Anglican Communion, bishops are gathering in Canterbury today to pray, study scripture, discuss global challenges and seek God’s direction for the decade ahead.
The Lambeth Conference 2022, which runs until August 7, is only the 15th such global gathering of Anglican bishops in 155 years.
The event was postponed from 2020 because of the Covid 19 pandemic and takes place against a backdrop of global uncertainty – including the climate emergency, war and poverty.
Taking as their theme “God’s Church for God’s World”, the bishops will spend time praying and studying the Bible together (focussing on the book of 1 Peter) as well as discussing major challenges faced by their global communities – ranging from climate change and scientific progress to Christian Unity and inter-faith relations.
Churches from the global Anglican Communion will be formally represented on the body which nominates future Archbishops of Canterbury.
Until now the wider worldwide Anglican Communion, outside of England, has been represented by just one of the 16 members of the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) for the See of Canterbury.
But under changes to the Standing Orders of the General Synod formally approved today, there will now be five representatives of other churches of the Anglican Communion – one each from Africa; the Americas; Middle East and Asia; Oceania and Europe.
The new rules will also ensure the inclusion of laity and clergy as well as bishops; a balance of men and women and that at least half of the five will be of Global Majority Heritage.
All diocesan bishops of the Church of England, including the archbishops, are appointed by Her Majesty the Queen following a nomination by the Crown Nominations Commission for the see.
Anglicans have an indispensable role to play as Roman Catholics start a two-year conversation on how to become a more “synodal” church, Pope Francis said at his first meeting with Archbishop Linda Nicholls, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.
Nicholls met the pope at the latest meeting of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), which took place in May at the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace in Rome. Due to the absence of Philip Freier, archbishop of Melbourne and Anglican co-chair of ARCIC who was attending the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia, the primate spoke on behalf of the Anglican side of the dialogue. Nicholls presented a formal statement on ARCIC from the Anglican perspective. ARCIC’s other co-chair, Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham, England, spoke on behalf of Roman Catholics.
“It was really very lovely,” the primate said of her meeting with Francis. “The pope is a very warm and gracious man who really pays attention to the people he’s with and gives you his full attention while you’re there.”
Archdeacon of Canterbury Dr Will Adam shares ecumenical insights and hopes ahead of the 15th Lambeth Conference.
Anglican bishops from around the globe are gearing up for a major event in the life of their communion which will shape the ministry and mission of its members over the next decade. The fifteenth Lambeth Conference takes place in Canterbury from 26 July to 8 August, bringing together over 600 bishops, alongside spouses, ecumenical observers and other invited guests.
The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) General Secretary Rev. Anne Burghardt will be taking part in that meeting, together with Prof. Dirk Lange, LWF’s Assistant General Secretary for Ecumenical Relations. Among those on hand to welcome them to the ancient city on the south-eastern tip of England will be a friend and ecumenical expert, Rev. Dr Will Adam, who was recently appointed Archdeacon of Canterbury.
Originally held at Lambeth Palace, the residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury on the banks of the river Thames in London, the Lambeth Conference has been meeting more or less once a decade since 1867 for prayer, reflection, fellowship and discussions on the challenges facing the 80-million-member global communion. It is one of the four, so-called Instruments of Unity of the Anglican Communion.
With the 15th Lambeth Conference scheduled this summer, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is seeking to unite the Anglican Communion under common expressions of faith and social engagement, rather than focusing on debates over human sexuality that have divided bishops at past conferences.
“The aim of this conference – which, like all the [Lambeth] conferences, is a very significant moment in the life of the community – is to encourage Anglicans around the world to be looking outwards to the world,” he said in a press conference with conference organizers on June 22. “The church should express its mission and its life of discipleship through engagement with the great challenges that the next 30 or 40 years will impose upon the vast majority of Anglicans, especially those in areas of climate fragility, and political and other fragility.”
The Lambeth Conference, a gathering of bishops from across the Anglican Communion that has taken place about every 10 years since 1867, is being held July 26 to Aug. 8 at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England; Canterbury Cathedral; and Lambeth Palace in London. The conference is one of the three Anglican instruments of communion, in addition to the Primates’ Meeting and the Anglican Consultative Council, the communion’s main policymaking body.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has written to the Primates of Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda to tell them that his invitation to bishops from their provinces to attend the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops remains open. In a joint letter with the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, Archbishop Justin said: “God calls us to unity and not to conflict so that the world may know he came from the Father. That is the very purpose of the church globally.”
“Boycotts do not proclaim Christ”, the two Anglican leaders said. “Those who stay away cannot be heard, they will lose influence and the chance of shaping the future. All of us will be the poorer spiritually as a result of your absence.”
His letter was in response to a joint statement issued by the three Primates – Archbishop Henry Ndukuba of Nigeria, Archbishop Laurent Mbanda of Rwanda, and Archbishop Stephen Kaziimba of Uganda – in response to the Communiqué from the Primates’ Meeting at Lambeth Palace, London, in March, which they did not attend.
A South Sudanese bishop who was forced with his family into exile before he was one year old, the Right Revd Anthony Poggo, has been named as the next Secretary General of the Anglican Communion. Bishop Anthony Poggo, the former Bishop of Kajo-Keji in the Episcopal Church of South Sudan, is currently the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Adviser on Anglican Communion Affairs.
Bishop Anthony was selected for his new role by a sub-committee of the Anglican Communion’s Standing Committee following a competitive recruitment process led by external consultants.
He will take up his new role in September, succeeding the Most Revd Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, who steps down after next month’s Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops, which is being held in Canterbury, Kent, from 26 July to 8 August.
The Anglican Communion is the world’s third largest Christian denomination. It comprises 42 independent-yet-interdependent autonomous regional, national and pan-national Churches (provinces), active in more than 165 countries.
In a message filmed recently in Canterbury, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has shared his hopes for a new process of “Lambeth Calls” that will be an important feature of this year’s Lambeth Conference.
The term “Lambeth Calls” is being used for the bishops’ discussions at the conference, and papers which are shared by the bishops during the event to summarize the outcomes of their conversations.
“Lambeth Calls” will be short written statements that include declarations, affirmations and common “calls” to the church and the world that the bishops want to make. Lambeth Calls will relate to the main themes of the conference program and include: mission and evangelism, reconciliation, safe church, the environment and sustainable development, Christian unity, interfaith relations, Anglican identity, human dignity and discipleship.
The intention is to make each of the calls from the conference public and to ensure that there is a process by which the outcomes included in each call can be received and implemented. Member churches will be invited to consider the calls in their own synods and other bodies. It is expected that several themes from the calls will be on the agenda for the meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in 2023.
In line with the new Apostolic Constitution Praedicate Evangelium on the Roman Curia and its service to the Church and to the entire world effective as from 5 June 2022, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity has become the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity.
It was also on 5 June, Pentecost Sunday, in 1960 that the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity was created by Saint John XXIII as a preparatory commission of the Second Vatican Council, marking the commencement of the official commitment of the Catholic Church to the ecumenical movement. With the Apostolic Constitution Pastor bonus of 1988, Saint John Paul II transformed the Secretariat into the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
The Apostolic Constitution Praedicate Evangelium establishes that “it is the responsibility of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Christian Unity to apply appropriate initiatives and activities to the ecumenical commitment, both within the Catholic Church and in relations with other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, to restore unity among Christians” (art.142).
In 1889 an English aristocrat, Viscount Halifax (Charles Lindley Wood) and a French Roman Catholic priest, Abbé Fernand Portal, met on the beautiful island of Madeira. A friendship began that led to the Malines Conversations of the 1920s which were the precursor of the modern bilateral dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion, which now has two official commissions, ARCIC and IARCCUM.
The Malines Conversations continue in a modern form today as a theological working group, supporting the official dialogues through exploring ways to address some vital points which may still hinder our journey towards the unity to which we are committed as Anglicans and Catholics. Last December we published Sorores in Spe an evaluation of Apostolicae Curae, Pope Leo XIII’s negative judgement on Anglican Orders dating from 1896.
A recent session of the Malines Conversations were held in Madeira, returning to the place where one could say that the journey towards the restoration of full communion between Anglicans and Roman Catholics began. It was in many ways a pilgrimage to the roots of our dialogue.
The Anglican Chaplain of Holy Trinity Funchal, the Revd Michael Jarman, and the Bishop of Funchal, Dom Nuno Brás da Silva Martins, both played their part in hosting the dialogue group. On Sunday 15 May, the Revd Fr Thomas Pott delivered the sermon at the Anglican Eucharist in Funchal, and Dom Nuno later in the week presided at an ecumenical service at which I preached, and hosted the group for a reception and dinner. Ecumenical relations between Anglicans and Roman Catholics in Madeira are very good indeed. It was wonderful that Fr Michael and his parishioners at Holy Trinity could host the group at their Sunday mass; it is quite likely that Viscount Halifax worshipped at Holy Trinity in the late 19th century.
Pope Francis said on Friday that members of the Anglican Communion are “valued travelling companions” as Catholics take part in a worldwide synodal process.
Speaking to the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Dialogue Commission (ARCIC) on May 13, the pope said he hoped that Anglicans would contribute to the two-year initiative leading to the Synod on Synodality in Rome in 2023.
He said: “As you know, the Catholic Church has inaugurated a synodal process: for this common journey to be truly such, the contribution of the Anglican Communion cannot be lacking. We look upon you as valued travelling companions.”
The 85-year-old pope noted that in July he is due to travel to South Sudan with Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the Anglican Communion.
The pope, who has been making his public appearances in a wheelchair since May 5 due to a torn ligament in his right knee, said: “As part of this concrete journey, I wish to recommend to your prayers an important step. Archbishop Justin Welby and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, two dear brothers, will be my travelling companions when, in a few weeks’ time, we will at last be able to travel to South Sudan.”
Divided Christians must recognize how their sins have fractured Christ’s church, be honest about the struggles their communities are facing and be humble enough to recognize that others have gifts they need, Pope Francis said.
Welcoming members of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission to the Vatican May 13, the pope also insisted that while the formal theological dialogues continue, divided Christians also must be willing to get their hands dirty “in shared service to our wounded brothers and sisters discarded on the waysides of our world.”
Pope Francis encourages the Anglican Communion to contribute to the Catholic Church’s synodal process, and looks ahead to his “pilgrimage of peace” to South Sudan in July in the company of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland.
Pope Francis has reiterated the Church’s commitment to walk together with the Anglican Communion towards full Christian unity, while reflecting on the ongoing synodal process and expressing his desire to promote peace and reconciliation in South Sudan.
Speaking to members of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Dialogue Commission (ARCIC), whom he received in the Vatican on Friday, the Pope recalled the establishment of the Commission in 1967 by Pope Paul VI and Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey, to embark on a journey of full reconciliation.
He noted that during three phases of work the Commission has sought “to leave behind what compromises our communion and to nurture the bonds that unite Catholics and Anglicans.”
The Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue of Canada (ARC Canada) has been meeting regularly for 50 years, with a mandate to serve the cause of visible Christianity unity and common witness between the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) and the Roman Catholic Church in Canada. Having continued the Dialogue online from 2020-2021, members rejoiced to be able to convene in person on May 2-5 at the Manoir D’Youville in Châteauguay, QC.
These days were the source of a renewed beginning in several ways: ARC Canada welcomed a few new members into its ranks, continuing a long tradition of gifted and dedicated ecumenical leaders who have contributed to its work over the decades. A new proposed terms of reference was reviewed that would, among other things, expand the participation of representatives from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) from a role as observers to full membership, as full communion partners within the ACC delegation. There was also a chance to engage with recent discussions of synodality in the Roman Catholic Church, and to review aspects of some of the latest ecumenical study on the subject of Anglican ordinations.
The joyful carol that we know as the ‘Carol of the Bells’ has its origins in a Ukrainian folk song which in ancient times was sung, not at Christmas, but at this time of the year to mark the fresh beginnings of spring. It tells the tale of a swallow flying into a home after the winter to promise the family a new season of joy, happiness and plenty.
It’s difficult to contemplate such a hopeful scene for the people of Ukraine this Easter as the world continues to witness the horror of death, destruction and displacement being visited on their country these past few months. Peace and prosperity seem a distant dream. It must be much easier for them to meditate on the pain of Good Friday, or on the emptiness of Holy Saturday, than on the joy and happiness of Easter morning.
And yet when the Lord appeared to his disciples after his resurrection, his opening words were ‘Peace be with you’. His words meant much more than the traditional ‘Shalom’ greeting, for in speaking Easter peace, he also showed his friends the wounds of violence in his hands and in his side – the marks of the crucifixion. He therefore identifies himself to them as both the Crucified, and the Risen Saviour, one acquainted with suffering; his peace is offered through the blood of the cross.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Right Hon Justin Welby, is playing host to the senior archbishops, presiding bishops or moderators from across the Anglican Communion this week, at a Primates’ Meeting being held at Lambeth Palace, London.
The leaders of the independent-yet-interdependent autonomous national and regional churches of the Anglican Communion were first invited to gather for “leisurely thought, prayer and deep consultation” by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Donald Coggan, in 1978. Since then, successive Archbishops of Canterbury have invited their fellow Primates to gather at varying intervals at venues around the world.
This week’s meeting is the first in-person gathering of Anglican Primates since they met in Jordan in January 2020. International travel restrictions to protect against the Covid pandemic has prevented further in-person meetings until now. The Primates held online meetings in November 2020 and 2021 to discuss a range of issues, including the global impact of the pandemic.
It had originally been planned for the meeting to take place in Rome, but was switched to London at a time when travel restrictions in Italy meant that a significant number of Primates would not have been able to fully participate. There are currently no Covid-related travel restrictions for visitors to the UK, but a small number of invited Primates will be taking part in the meeting online because of return-travel restrictions in their home countries.
The annual meeting of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID) and the Office of Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation (IRDC) of the World Council of Churches (WCC) took place at the PCID Office on 24-25 March 2022.
The meeting was characterized by three features: i) An appraisal of the 45-year ecumenical journey between the PCID and the WCC in fostering interreligious dialogue through joint projects and collaboration and their reception and impact in local communities. ii) Brainstorming and mapping out a plan of action for future celebration of the 50th anniversary of this journey. iii) Prayer for peace in the world, particularly for Ukraine.
Over the years, PCID and WCC have engaged in a dialogue on a shared Christian perspective towards interreligious dialogue, issuing a number of documents including “Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World: Recommendations for Conduct” (2011), “Education for Peace in a Multi-Religious World: A Christian Perspective” (2019), and “Serving a Wounded World in Interreligious Solidarity: A Christian Call to Reflection and Action During COVID-19” (2020).
Church leaders and experts involved in the work on the new Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia presented ‘Praedicate Evangelium‘ to journalists on hand both at the Holy See Press Office, as well as those watching online during a two-and-a-half-hour press conference. The text of the document was released just two days earlier, on the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, when Pope Francis had the Apostolic Constitution promulgated.
Among the presenters at the Press Conference, Bishop Marco Mellino, Secretary of the Council of Cardinals, noted that the title itself of the document, ‘Praedicate Evangelium‘, underscores the missionary dimension and core duty of evangelization, proclaiming the Good News of the Gospel, which regards all the offices assisting the Pope in his pastoral ministry. He also pointed out how the Roman Curia is by its nature at the service of the universal Church and under the direction of the Pope assisting him to carry out his universal pastoral mission throughout the world. He also noted how the concept of synodality enters into the equation now, as the Roman Curia becomes increasingly instrumental in listening and dialoguing with the particular Churches as it carries out its service.