Stories of news & opinion from the Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogues
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 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.
The Anglican Communion’s Director of Unity, Faith and Order, Dr Will Adam will leave his position in the coming months to pursue a new role as the next Archdeacon of Canterbury and Residentiary Canon of Canterbury Cathedral, the Mother Church of the Anglican Communion. He is currently based at the Anglican Communion Office (ACO).
Speaking of his new appointment, Dr Adam said: “it’s a great honour and pleasure to be invited to take up this role. Canterbury is a place very close to my heart – as it has been for pilgrims from around the world for centuries. I’m excited by the opportunities for mission and ministry in Canterbury Diocese and the Cathedral as they work towards building a flourishing and sustainable future for their communities. I can’t wait to get to know the parishes, churches and communities of the Archdeaconry as we work together in God’s service.”
The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, the Most Revd Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, commented: “I am pleased that Will Adam will be taking up this significant post in Canterbury. He comes with long experience as a parish priest and pastor which has been informed by his work in the world Church. We will miss him at the Anglican Communion Office but congratulate Will and the Cathedral and Diocese of Canterbury on this news.”
Northern Ireland’s top Catholic and Anglican prelates are calling on the UK government to do more to help Ukrainian refugees. “I think perhaps the United Kingdom has said let’s think about the bureaucracy and see how many doors we can open. That’s the wrong way round,” said Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, the Catholic primate of All Ireland. “I really feel that where there is a humanitarian disaster of this scale in Europe then it behooves all of us to respond generously and urgently to the need,” he said.
His Anglican counterpart, the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh, John McDowell, called on the UK government to replicate the European Union in opening its doors to Ukrainian refugees. “The Home Office is not a notoriously sympathetic department and has maybe difficulty processing these matters, but we would certainly urge them to do as much as other countries in the European Union have done and to do that with a good grace and a good heart and to do it quickly, so that people who are already extraordinarily anxious don’t have a further anxiety added when they’re coming to the borders,” McDowell said.
Today, on the vigil of the Feast day of Saint Patrick, the Church of Ireland Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop John McDowell, and the Catholic Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin, and the led the annual Saint Patrick’s lecture and discussion organised by Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council in the Market Place Theatre & Arts Centre, Armagh. The annual lecture and discussion reflects on how the witness of Saint Patrick speaks into our contemporary world. This year’s theme was: Saint Patrick as a model for reconciliation and peace. Following this event, the archbishops met with assembled media to deliver their Saint Patrick’s Day message and to express concern about the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.
On 15 March a study group of Anglicans and Methodists led by Revd Dr Tim Macquiban from the Methodist Church in Britain and Revd Canon Jane Brooke from the Church of England was received at the office of the PCPCU by Monsignor Juan Usma Gómez, Head of the Western Section.
The visit was part of a three‒day program in Rome to explore how churches are promoting peace and reconciliation. The group was also accompanied by Revd Matthew Laferty, director of the Methodist Ecumenical Office Rome (MEOR).
Fulfilling a promise made years ago, Pope Francis this July will visit South Sudan, a country torn apart by a civil war. He will also visit the Democratic Republic of Congo. “At the invitation of their respective Heads of State and Bishops, His Holiness Pope Francis will make an Apostolic Journey to the Democratic Republic of Congo from 2 to 5 July 2022, visiting the cities of Kinshasa and Goma and to South Sudan from 5 to 7 July, visiting Juba,” says the statement released by the Vatican’s press office a little after noon Rome time.
Francis had announced the trip himself, from the window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, following a Sunday Angelus in 2019. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and the country’s instability delayed the visit. Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni did not clarify if Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, would be joining in the South Sudan leg of the visit, but the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury confirmed the Anglican leader would accompany the pontiff. The two have spoken about wanting to visit this African nation together. In fact, Welby spoke about this possibility Feb. 6. “God willing, sometime in the next few months, maybe year, we will go to see them in Juba, not Rome, and see what progress can be made,” Welby said. “That’s history,” Welby said of the likely trip that will mark the first time the two Christian leaders will travel together.
Next month’s meeting of Anglican Primates – the senior archbishops, moderators and Presiding Bishops from the 42 Churches of the Anglican Communion – will be held in London, England. The meeting had been planned to take place in Rome, Italy. However, Covid-related travel restrictions in Italy meant that around half of the church leaders would not be eligible to fully participate.
The meeting, called by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, will take the form of a spiritual retreat, with the church leaders praying and studying the Bible together. The Primates will also discuss the latest plans for the Lambeth Conference – the decennial meeting to which all Anglican bishops from around the world are invited. The next Lambeth Conference, postponed from 2020, will take place in Canterbury, England, in July and August this year.
The Archbishops’ Council has launched a consultation on a proposal to change the make-up of the body which nominates future Archbishops of Canterbury. The proposal would give the worldwide Anglican Communion a greater voice on the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) for the See of Canterbury. At present the entire Communion outside of England is represented by just one of the current 16 voting members, compared to six from the Diocese of Canterbury alone. The proposal would increase the Anglican Communion representatives to five while reducing the number of members from the Diocese to three. As at present, there would also be nine other members from the Church of England, including six elected by General Synod.
The idea originated from the Diocese of Canterbury itself where the Diocesan Synod agreed a motion asking the Archbishops’ Council to consider decreasing the representation of the Diocese of Canterbury on future CNCs for the See of Canterbury. The consultation, which will include key partners from across the Church of England and the Anglican Communion, will run until March 31. Responses will be collated in the spring with an expectation of a final proposal being put to the General Synod for a vote in July. If approved it would change the Synod’s standing orders, which govern CNCs. The General Synod, as part of the consultation, will also debate the proposal within the consultation document at its next meeting next month.
As in previous years, during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity L’Osservatore Romano published a series of articles prepared by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity on the ecumenical relations of the Holy See. The texts, which are published in Italian, offer an update on the ecumenical situation and on initiatives undertaken in 2021.
On Thursday 20 January 2022 the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity published a working paper on the consequences of the current pandemic for ecumenical relations.
Entitled “Ecumenism in a Time of Pandemic: From Crisis to Opportunity”, the text summarizes the outcomes of a survey undertaken in 2021 among the Bishops’ Conferences and Eastern Catholic Synods.
After analysing the opportunities of the pandemic for relations among Christians, as well as the negative impact, the document identifies a range of challenges that the ecumenical movement faces in a post‒pandemic world.
The document aims at offering an initial contribution to reflection in the hope that it may promote further discussion and stimulate dialogue at all levels with other Christians.
For the forthcoming 2022 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Cardinal Mario Grech and Cardinal Kurt Koch invite all Christians to pray for unity and to continue to journey together
In a joint letter sent on 28 October 2021 to all bishops responsible for ecumenism, Cardinal Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and Cardinal Grech, General Secretary of the Synod of the Bishops, offered suggestions aimed at implementing the ecumenical dimension of the synodal process in the local churches. “Both synodality and ecumenism are processes of walking together,” the two Cardinals wrote.
The 2022 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity on the theme “We saw the star in the East, and we came to worship him” (Mt 2:2) prepared by the Middle East Council of Churches, offers a propitious occasion to pray with all Christians that the Synod will proceed in an ecumenical spirit.
Reflecting on the theme, both Cardinals affirm, “Like the Magi, Christians too journey together (synodos) guided by the same heavenly light and encountering the same worldly darkness. They too are called to worship Jesus together and open their treasures. Conscious of our need for the accompaniment and the many gifts of our brothers and sisters in Christ, we call on them to journey with us during these two years and we sincerely pray that Christ will lead us closer to Him and so to one another.”
Just before Christmas 1937, Monsignor Ronald Knox wrote a letter to the English Catholic periodical, The Tablet. Knox was the son of a Church of England bishop and had converted to Catholicism shortly after taking a brilliant First at the University of Oxford. He later became the first Catholic Chaplain to Oxford since the Reformation.
The letter arose from a remark that a friend of Knox’s had made, that she “wasn’t going to have her house turned upside down just because it was Christmas”. Thinking afterwards about what she had said, Knox wrote in his letter, “What is Christmas from start to finish but things being turned upside down?”
Even the days, continually darkening in the run–up Christmas, turn with the solstice and light begins to win again. Just when trees should be at their barest, lustrous evergreen branches are brought indoors and enhanced with lights and glitter. And just at a time (especially in the ancient world) when darkness was a cover for thieves in the night coming to burgle homes, in our modern recasting of the story, a genial old boy squeezes himself down the chimney and leaves gifts.
A group of Catholic and Anglican theologians has publicly called on the Vatican to review and overturn a papal document from 1896 that declared Anglican ordinations “absolutely null and utterly void.” “Where we once walked apart, we now walk together in friendship and love,” wrote members of the Malines Conversations Group after tracing the history of ecumenical agreements between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion and, especially, reviewing examples of collaboration and gestures of recognition.
The judgment made by Pope Leo XIII in his apostolic letter “Apostolicae Curae” in 1896 “does not accord with the reality into which the Spirit has led us now,” said members of the group, which is an informal Catholic-Anglican dialogue that began in 2013. Members of the group, who are not appointed to represent their churches but keep their respective ecumenical offices informed of their studies and discussions, presented their document Dec. 15 at Rome’s Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas. The 27-page document is titled, “Sorores in Spe — Sisters in Hope of the Resurrection: A Fresh Response to the Condemnation of Anglican Orders.”
The members of the Malines Conversations Group are honoured to invite you to the presentation of their new document:
SORORES IN SPE – Sisters in Hope of the Resurrection: A Fresh Response to the Condemnation of Anglican Orders (1896)
during an ecumenical seminar at the Angelicum’s Institute for Ecumenical Studies, Rome, Wednesday, 15 December 2021, 15:00-16:00, in presence at Aula 11 of the Angelicum or in direct streaming on Angelicum YouTube.