News & Opinion from the Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogues
The Malines Conversations Group, an unofficial theological dialogue of Catholic and Anglican theologians, met in St Paul’s Bay, Malta, from 20 to 26 May 2023. This was the ninth meeting of the group, named in honour of the original Malines Conversations of the 1920s. These early informal conversations, held between a small group of British Anglicans and European Catholics, were made possible by the bonds of friendship between the members of the group. In that spirit, despite some disruption caused by COVID-19, the current Malines Conversations Group has been gathering annually, always in early spring, alternately in Anglican and Roman Catholic venues.
Archbishop Stephen Cottrell, the Archbishop of York in the Church of England, is leading a delegation on a visit to Rome from May 20-24. As part of their journey, they have visited the Basilicas of St Peters and St Paul Outside the Walls, where they spent time praying in the crypts. Prayer at the tombs of the apostles is a traditional focus of pilgrimage to Rome.
On Sunday, the delegation attended All Saints Anglican Church, an English parish in the heart of Rome where the Archbishop preached. He also preached at the Anglican Centre in Rome on Tuesday. Other visits will be to the Community of Sant’Egidio, a lay Roman Catholic association dedicated to social service; the Benedictine monastery of San Gregorio al Celio, in Rome, from which Pope St Gregory sent St Augustine to Canterbury; and the Venerable English College, a seminary training English and Welsh Roman Catholic priests.
The highlight of their trip was a private audience with Pope Francis in the Apostolic Palace. Archbishop Cottrell said that his audience with Pope Francis, at which he was accompanied by his chaplain, the Revd Dr Jenny Wright, and his wife, Rebecca, had “further consolidated the strong bonds of friendship between our two World Communions. We are now looking forward, for further cooperation between the Dicasteries of the Vatican and the Anglican Centre in Rome.” Archbishop Ian Ernest, director of the Anglican Centre in Rome and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s representative to the Holy See, accompanied them on their visit. The delegation was also accompanied by Cardinal Kurt Koch, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, and Revd Martin Browne OSB, the Dicastery official responsible for relations with Anglicans.
When King Charles III and his wife, Queen Consort Camila, are crowned on Saturday, the event will mark a historic juncture in Catholic-Anglican relations, as it will be the first time a Catholic bishop has participated in the ceremony in four centuries.
In a May 5 statement, the Archdiocese of Westminster in the UK, overseen by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, called Saturday’s coronation “an historic occasion for the nation, and also for the Catholic community.”
“For the first time in over 400 years, a Catholic Archbishop will take part in a Coronation in this country,” the statement said, referring to the fact that Nichols has not only been invited to attend the ceremony, but he will also give a blessing.
Other Catholic representatives at the coronation will be Vatican Secretary of State Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin and the newly-appointed apostolic nuncio to Great Britain, Spanish Archbishop Miguel Maury Buendía, as well as Archbishop Mark O’Toole of Cardiff, Bishop Hugh Gilbert of Aberdeen, Scotland, and the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, Eamon Martin.
The Cross of Wales, a new processional cross presented by King Charles III as a centenary gift to the Church in Wales, will lead the Coronation procession at Westminster Abbey on 6 May.
In a significant ecumenical gesture, the Cross of Wales incorporates a relic of the True Cross, the personal gift of Pope Francis to the King to mark the Coronation. The relics, set into the silver cross, are two small wooden splinters from the cross on which Christ was crucified.
Words from the last sermon of St David are chased on the back of the Cross in Welsh: “Byddwch lawen. Cadwch y ffydd. Gwnewch y Pethau Bychain”, which translates as: “Be joyful. Keep the faith. Do the little things.” The Cross was blessed by the Archbishop of Wales, Andrew John, at Holy Trinity Church, Llandudno, on April 19. It will be officially received by the Church in Wales at a service to follow the Coronation and its use going forward will be shared between the Anglican and Catholic Churches in Wales.
A leading Durham University theologian is to help shape the Catholic Church for years to come. Professor Anna Rowlands has been selected for a secondment that will see her spend two years working with the General Secretariat of the Synod, and the Dicastery (Department) for Integral Human Development of the Holy See (Vatican). Her role includes working closely with the team managing the global Synod process established by Pope Francis.
Lambeth Palace responds to the recent statement by the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GSFA).
A Lambeth Palace spokesperson has said:
“At last week’s meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) in Ghana, there was widespread support for working together patiently and constructively to review the Instruments of Communion, so that our differences and disagreements can be held together in unity and fellowship. The Archbishop is in regular contact with his fellow Primates and looks forward to discussing this and other matters with them over the coming period.”
Members of the global Anglican Consultative Council took time out from their week-long 18th plenary meeting (ACC-18) in Accra today to visit a 17th-century castle on Ghana’s Cape Coast. At the height of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, many enslaved Africans were held at Cape Coast Castle before being transported to the Americas on British slave ships. After touring the castle and visiting the basement dungeons, known as slave holes, and the cells for condemned prisoners, members of the ACC took part in a Service of Reflection and Reconciliation at the adjacent Christ Church Anglican Cathedral.
They were joined by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, President of the ACC; the Archbishop of Ghana and Primate of West Africa, the host province of ACC-18, Cyril Ben-Smith; and the Archbishop of the West Indies and Bishop of Jamaica, Howard Gregory, attending ACC-18 in his role as Chair of the Commission on Theological Education in the Anglican Communion.
A proposal for a piece of work to “explore theological questions regarding structure and decision-making [in the Anglican Communion] to help address our differences” has been welcomed by members of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC).
Today (Tuesday 14 February), at their week-long meeting in Accra, Ghana, members of the ACC, gathered for their 18th plenary meeting (ACC-18), affirmed “the importance of seeking to walk together to the highest degree possible, and learning from our ecumenical conversations how to accommodate differentiation patiently and respectfully.”
The words were in a resolution proposed by IASCUFO – the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order. ACC members asked for proposals from IASCUFO “that may impact the ACC constitution” to be brought for full discussion to the next meeting of the ACC, which is expected to be hosted by the Church of Ireland in three years’ time. In the meantime, IASCUFO is asked to proceed with the work and report its progress to the Instruments of Communion.
The Episcopal Church’s representatives to the Anglican Consultative Council participated Feb. 14 in a discussion on the challenges of maintaining – and, in some ways, restoring – unity among the worldwide Anglican Communion’s 42 provinces at a time of stark divisions over human sexuality and marriage equality.
About 110 representatives from 39 of those provinces are in Accra, Ghana, this week for the 18th meeting of ACC, one of the Anglican Communion’s four Instruments of Communion and the only to include laity. The other three are the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops, the Primates’ Meeting and the archbishop of Canterbury, an office known as the “focus of unity.”
In a post-colonial world, the Church must find ways of demonstrating unity without one powerful group imposing its values on another, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said today.
In a presidential address to the 18th plenary meeting of the global Anglican Consultative Council (ACC-18), gathered in Accra, Ghana, Archbishop Justin said that “no one group should order the life and culture of another. Such control is often neo-colonial abuse.”
Pope Francis asked the Anglican archbishop of Canterbury and the moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland to join him for his usual post-trip news conference on their flight back to Rome from Juba, South Sudan, Feb. 5.
At the end of six days in African countries bloodied by war and conflict, Pope Francis said that “the biggest plague” afflicting the world today is the weapons trade.
Tribalism with its ancient rivalries is a problem, he told reporters Feb. 5, “but it is also true that the violence is provoked” by the ready supply of weapons and that making it easier for people to kill each other just to make money “is diabolical — I have no other word for it.”
As part of their historic ecumenical pilgrimage to South Sudan, Pope Francis, Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury and the Rev. Iain Greenshields, moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, led an ecumenical prayer for peace Feb. 4 in Juba. After scolding South Sudan’s political leaders and consoling some of its poorest victims, Pope Francis, Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury and the Rev. Iain Greenshields, moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, rallied their faithful to prayer and action.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has said “my heart breaks with sorrow for South Sudan” amidst ongoing violence and sectarian conflict in the country. Preaching at All Saints Anglican Cathedral in Juba this morning, the Archbishop urged those who have committed “secret crimes and evil deeds” to ask for God’s mercy and transformation and prayed they would know the “infinite love of Christ”. The Archbishop is currently on a historic three-day Pilgrimage for Peace to South Sudan with Pope Francis and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland.
Pope Francis tells the leaders of divided South Sudan that future generations will either venerate their names or cancel their memory, based on what they do now, and he issues an appeal “to leave the time of war behind and let a time of peace dawn.”
The President and the Vice Presidents of South Sudan have it within their “reach” to extend justice and compassion to all the people of the world’s youngest nation, the Moderator of the General Assembly has said. Addressing President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his Vice Presidents in Juba this afternoon, Rt Rev Dr Iain Greenshields told them that the world “needs churches and leaders who are generous of heart, liberal of love, and profligate with God’s grace.” The Moderator made the remarks at an official ceremony held at the “Palais de la Nation” alongside Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Dr Greenshields said the world needs leaders who care about values, the conditions in which people live and act out their faith and work amongst the most vulnerable and marginalised. “These things make for peace,” he added.
The 18th plenary meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council will take place in Accra, Ghana, from 12 to 19 February. The Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) is one of four “Instruments of Communion or “Instruments of Unity” of the global Anglican Communion of 42 autonomous and interdependent-yet-interdependent Churches present in more than 165 countries. The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, is President of the ACC and will join other members of the ACC in Accra for this month’s meeting.
As in previous years, during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity L’Osservatore Romano published a series of articles prepared by the Dicastery 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 2022.
Before beginning their ecumenical pilgrimage of peace to South Sudan, Pope Francis and the leaders of the Anglican Communion and the Presbyterian Church of Scotland asked Christians around the globe to accompany them with prayers. Pope Francis is scheduled to fly first to Congo for a visit Jan. 31-Feb. 3 before meeting up in Juba, South Sudan, with Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury and the Rev. Iain Greenshields, moderator of the Church of Scotland. About 60% of South Sudan’s population is Christian, and the leaders’ three denominations are the largest in the country.
Pope Francis invites Christians to pray for his upcoming Apostolic Journey to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, saying the African nations have suffered greatly from lengthy conflicts. Pope Francis sets off on Tuesday as a “pilgrim of peace” to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan on 31 January – 5 February.
In South Sudan, “the Church speaks with one voice for peace,” says Presbyterian leader about the upcoming trip with Pope Francis. From February 3 to 5, the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, the Right Reverend Dr. Iain Greenshields, will join Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, on a “pilgrimage of peace” to South Sudan. The three Christian branches have worked together for several years to promote peace in the youngest state in the world, which continues to be troubled by conflict since its independence in 2011.