Stories of news & opinion from the Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogues
A joint Anglican-Roman Catholic delegation visited southern Malawi last week to celebrate the success of an ecumenical scholarship programme started last year by the Anglican Diocese of Upper Shire and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Mangochi. The St Timothy Scholarship Programme was launched in September 2017 as a direct response to the Common Declaration of Pope Francis and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby at San Gregorio al Celio in Rome on 5 October 2016. The two leaders commissioned and sent out 19 pairs of Anglican and Catholic bishops to work together in collaborative mission and witness to the “ends of the earth” to give voice to their common faith in Jesus Christ. The programme has been warmly endorsed by the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM).
The programme, which is funded by offshore donors and managed jointly by the two dioceses, provides scholarships to enable children from the poorest families to attend residential secondary schools run by the dioceses on an all expenses paid basis. The €600 (Euro, approximately £530 GBP) scholarships cover tuition fees, room and board, school uniforms, school shoes, athletic wear, stationery, toiletries, bedding, school bag, scientific instruments and a travel allowance funding the student’s cost of travelling from home to school and return by public transport at the beginning and end of each school term.
An informal but officially-sanctioned ecumenical dialogue between Anglican and Roman Catholic theologians has met to consider “the difficult question of Anglican Orders.” The Malines Conversation Group was originally established in the early 1920s by Cardinal Désiré-Joseph Mercier, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Malines-Brussels; some 24 years after Pope Leo XIII declared that Anglican Orders were “absolutely null and utterly void”. The 1920s Malines Conversations Group envisioned the restoration of communion between Anglicans and Roman Catholics in the phrase l’Église Anglicane unie non absorbée – united, but not absorbed.
The leaders of the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches in Ireland have issued a joint statement celebrating “all that has been achieved in building peace” since the historic Belfast Agreement was signed 20 years ago. In a joint statement on eve of the 20th anniversary of the agreement, which is also known as the Good Friday Agreement, as it was agreed by political parties on 10 April 1998 – Good Friday – Archbishops Richard Clarke and Eamon Martin, say that the agreement “has continuing potential to transform society and life for all of us. Nothing remotely its equal has been outlined then or since.” Archbishop Richard is the Anglican Archbishop of Armagh and Primates of the Church of Ireland; Archbishop Martin is the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and leader of the Catholic Church in the country. They say that the Good Friday Agreement “sought to address contentious political problems in the context of decades of violence, divided communities and immense suffering and death on our streets. As such it was a complex and, in places, controversial document.
Two staff members are being recruited to help organise the 2020 Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops from around the world. More than 1,000 bishops and spouses from around the world are expected to attend the event at the University of Kent in Canterbury and at Canterbury Cathedral. Now, as momentum towards the historic gathering builds, the company tasked with organising it are looking for a manager and an administrator.
During a special service to commemorate 500 years of the Reformation at the Westminster Abbey today, representatives of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the Roman Catholic Church received the Anglican Communion’s affirmation of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ). The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby presented LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge and the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) Bishop Dr Brian Farrell with the 2016 Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) resolution “welcoming and affirming the substance of the JDDJ.”
You might have heard the story about the German friar who nailed 95 provocative statements to a church door a long time ago, triggering something we now call the Reformation. If you’re looking for a modern interpretation, 500 years ago next Tuesday, Martin Luther posted a particularly incendiary series of tweets. He wanted to provoke debate about corruption in the Roman Catholic Church. He certainly achieved that. Sadly, Luther couldn’t take advantage of Twitter — and it’s generally accepted that he didn’t actually hammer his arguments to a church door. Instead he used the then cutting-edge technology of printing. But the impact was no less dramatic. What Luther wrote went around Europe incredibly quickly; it was the viral content of its day.
The journey of Anglicans and Roman Catholics towards the goal of visible unity was given a further impetus yesterday, 26 October, when the new Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the Holy See, Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi, was installed in his post by Archbishop Justin Welby. The service which was Anglican Evensong sung by the joint choirs of All Saints Anglican Church and St Paul’s within the Walls Episcopal Church, (with our own Canon Jonathan Boardman of All Saints as Cantor/Precentor), was held in the Caravita Church, the home of an English-language Roman Catholic Community in the city. There was a hearty assent from Archbishop Bernard when the Archbishop of Canterbury asked him “Will you commit yourself to the ministry of reconciliation striving to make visible the unity of the Church in Christ?”
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.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s new representative to the Holy See, Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi of Burundi, says his appointment will help Anglicans and Catholics to work more closely together on key issues of reconciliation, poverty and human trafficking. The Archbishop, who will also serve as director of Rome’s Anglican Centre, says his experience in jail, following a military coup in Burundi, taught him humility and other valuable lessons about the responsibility of religious leaders.
‘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.
Another milestone in relations between Canterbury and Rome took place in the Vatican on Monday as a traditional Anglican Choral Evensong was celebrated for the first time in St Peter’s Basilica. Anglican and Catholic bishops and clergy – including one female chaplain, Rev Dana English from the Anglican Church of All Saints Rome – gathered together at the altar below Bernini’s great bronze sculpture encasing the relics of the Chair of St Peter. Sunshine streamed through the giant alabaster window depicting the Holy Spirit as a dove, while the renowned choir of Merton College, Oxford, sang motets by the English Renaissance composer William Byrd, as well as some more contemporary works and well-loved Anglican hymns.
Anglicans and Catholics must not simply recall the legacy of great saints from the past, but must pass on to others “what we have received ourselves in the hope of a reunited Christendom.” That was the message from English Archbishop Arthur Roche, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, to a historic celebration of Anglican Choral Evensong in St Peter’s Basilica. Archbishop David Moxon, director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, presided at the March 13th liturgy. The choir of Merton College, Oxford, sang motets by the English Renaissance composer William Byrd, as well as more contemporary works and some well-loved Anglican hymns.
An ecumenical milestone was marked in the Vatican on Monday as a traditional Anglican Choral Evensong was celebrated for the first time in St Peter’s Basilica. Cardinal Angelo Comastri, Archpriest of the Basilica, gave permission for the historic event during meetings with Archbishop David Moxon, Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome. The renowned choir of Merton College, Oxford came to sing music written at the time of the Reformation, as well as contemporary compositions and well-loved Anglican hymns.
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?”