News & Opinion from the Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogues
We are sorry to report the sad news that Bishop Paride Taban, an ecumenical pioneer and courageous peace-builder, died on the feast of All Saints.
Bishop Taban was born in 1936 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1964 and to the episcopate in 1980, becoming an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Juba. In 1983 he became the first bishop of the diocese of Torit in which rule he served until retirement in 2004.
In 1989, when the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) overran Torit, Bishop Taban was arrested along with three other Catholic priests. However, he was able to continue to minister under rebel rule. In 1990 the Sudan Council of Churches was formed, with Bishop Taban becoming its first leader. The body was immediately involved in peace talks.
The Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue in Canada (ARC) has met regularly since 1971. It works closely with the Anglican-Roman Catholic Bishops’ Dialogue (ARC-B), which was established in 1975. Supported by the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, the mandate of both Dialogues is to advance ecumenical understanding and cooperation between the churches in our country. In recent years, the Anglican contingent on ARC has also added members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) as an expression of the deepening full communion relationship between the ACC and ELCIC.
The Anglican Centre in Rome is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of its famous John Moorman Library with an exhibition of some of its most treasured items. The exhibition, which is being opened by the Archbishop of Cantebrury, Justin Welby, this morning (Saturday 30 September) will highlight the library’s ecumenical missionary endeavours.
The exhibition will include new artworks commissioned for the anniversary and inspired by the library’s rich history and collection.
The Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, Archbishop Ian Ernest, said: “this exhibition is made up of the library’s most treasured material, along with contributions of created artworks by international artists inspired by the library’s history and collection, highlighting the Anglican Centre’s ecumenical missionary endeavours and bearing witness to the quest of God’s people on their journey towards unity.”
Church leaders from Ireland have gathered in Rome to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.
In a joint statement, the Irish and British Ambassadors to the Holy See, Frances Collins and Chris Tott, said that they were delighted to welcome the leaders from several denominations.
“For decades, the Churches have played an important role in supporting peace and reconciliation,” they said, expressing hope that visit would “serve to inspire other church and faith-based leaders as they work to support peace and reconciliation around the world.”
The presence of Reformed churches in Rome is being strengthened through the appointment of Tara Curlewis in a dual-serving capacity.
Curlewis, an ordained minister in the Uniting Church in Australia, will serve in two roles: as the new minister of the Church of Scotland’s St. Andrew’s Church and as the Reformed Ecumenical Officer for the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC).
She said she was looking forward to taking up a calling that is grounded in an international and multicultural congregation and “exercising ministry in an exciting ecumenical setting.”
Curlewis said ecumenism “is in her DNA” and churches are “at their best when their voices unite to advocate for shared concerns together.”
“When I am in the ecumenical spaces, I am filled with an inner stirring of God’s perichoresis and have a sense of that same stirring as I prepare to take up the role in Rome, which provides strategic opportunities to uphold and promote the concerns of the Reformed churches,” she said.
Bishop David Hamid, suffragan bishop of the Diocese in Europe and one of the longest serving bishops in the Church of England, has announced his plans to retire in February 2024.
Bishop David said: “For over 20 years I have been blessed to have one of the most fulfilling and enriching jobs in the Church. At times the Diocese in Europe is difficult to explain to outsiders and to many in other parts of the Church of England, but I can sum up from my experience that it is a family, a family of committed and loving people, a truly rich and diverse, if scattered community, which seeks to live the Christian life in the Anglican way. The diocese embodies a profound vision of ecumenical outreach and collaboration and is a beautiful multicultural and multiethnic mosaic. These particular aspects of her life are very close to my own heart and have added to my joy in serving the diocese as one of its bishops.
Ecumenism and the search for Christian unity are no mere niche interest, the Anglican Church of Canada’s lead animator for ecumenical and interfaith relations Canon Scott Sharman says, but rather “an essential part of being a disciple of Jesus today”—and ecumenical agreements between churches in countries like Canada may soon become more common.
Sharman was responding to the Lambeth call on Christian unity, one of 10 statements drafted by committees of Anglican bishops from around the world, laying out priorities for the Anglican Communion. Each call is expected to be shaped in response to feedback: an earlier version of the calls served as the basis for discussion at the 2022 Lambeth Conference, a gathering of 650 bishops from across the Anglican Communion; this spring, an updated version was released based on that discussion. Now, Anglicans worldwide are invited to share their own feedback through a series of webinars.
The Lambeth call on Christian unity in its 2022 version urged the Anglican Communion to renew its “commitment to an urgent search for the full visible unity of the Church”; and for Anglicans to build relationships with other churches in their provinces, working with them to proclaim the gospel and respond to the needs of world. It asked Anglicans to learn from other Christian traditions and seek dialogue to overcome theological and ecclesiological differences; to speak up for those suffering persecution; and to establish relationships of communion with other churches.
An historic agreement to recognise and celebrate the significance of the holy well and Shrine to Saint Winefride in Holywell has been signed by the local Roman Catholic and Anglican Bishops.
The Bishop of Wrexham and the Bishop of St Asaph have pledged to work co-operatively towards the development of the whole site in Holywell as an integrated place of worship, pilgrimage and tourism, while maintaining the distinctive tradition of worship associated with the Shrine. The two bishops, Rt Revd Peter Brignall and Rt Revd Gregory Cameron signed a statement of intent (in full below) during a service in the Beaufort Chapel of St James’ Church yesterday (Wednesday 12 July).
The site of the ancient Shrine to St Winefride comprises the holy well and associated buildings and St James’ Church, the historic centre of Anglican worship in Holywell. The Shrine has been a continuous place of Roman Catholic devotion for 1400 years.
Is it time for a game changer in relations between the Churches? There are already signs of the times pointing to a better way forward. The joint mission of the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland to South Sudan was a powerful symbol of what church leaders can achieve when they work together. The visit of the Archbishop of York to Pope Francis in Rome was another indication that ecumenism still has plenty of potential. Archbishop Stephen Cottrell said afterwards that one of the biggest mistakes that Christians have made is to talk, write and confer about church unity “rather than seeing it as something that we must do.” He is right, though talking and writing have their place. And conferring.
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.”