Popes from the Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogues
Braving a volatile political and security situation, Pope Francis embarks on a long-anticipated journey of unity and reconciliation to two African countries wracked by bitter divisions, warring factions and humanitarian crises seldom on the radar of international power brokers.
The Pope will travel first to Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, on Jan. 31 before proceeding to South Sudan from Feb. 3-5. In the latter country, he will be joined by the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the moderator of the Church of Scotland, Iain Greenshields, in what has been described as an ecumenical pilgrimage to facilitate a peace process that has been moving at a glacial pace following 10 years of a brutal civil war.
Pope Benedict XVI is rightly remembered not only as a gentle pastor but as a dedicated upholder of Catholic teaching. He was also committed to the ecumenical dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and other Christian Churches, including the Church of England and the Churches of the Anglican Communion. When he visited Lambeth Palace in 2010 as part of his State Visit to the United Kingdom, he told a gathering of Roman Catholic and Anglican bishops, “I wish to join you in giving thanks for the deep friendship that has grown between us and for the remarkable progress that has been made in so many areas of dialogue during the forty years that have elapsed since the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) began its work. Let us entrust the fruits of that work to the Lord of the harvest, confident that he will bless our friendship with further significant growth”.
In Pope Benedict’s long life and ministry of service to Christ in His Church he saw many profound changes in the church and in the world. He lived through the Nazi regime in Germany and served briefly in the Second World War. As a younger theologian and priest he witnessed first-hand the discussions of the Second Vatican Council. As a professor and then as an Archbishop he lived in a divided Germany but saw too the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of his homeland.
Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland will make an historic Ecumenical Peace Pilgrimage to South Sudan from 3rd to 5th February next year.
The long-awaited visit was due to take place in July of this year, but was postponed after the Vatican announced that Pope Francis would not be able to travel on advice from his doctors. The visit was promised during a spiritual retreat held at the Vatican in 2019, in which South Sudanese political leaders committed to working together for the good of their people.
The three spiritual leaders have often spoken of their hopes to visit South Sudan – to stand in solidarity with its people as they face the challenges of devastating flooding, widespread famine and continued violence. Pope Francis has said: “I think of South Sudan and the plea for peace arising from its people who, weary of violence and poverty, await concrete results from the process of national reconciliation. I would like to contribute to that process, not alone, but by making an ecumenical pilgrimage together with two dear brothers, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.”
The Second Vatican Council was the universal Catholic Church’s response to God’s love and to Jesus’ command to feed his sheep, Pope Francis said, celebrating the 60th anniversary of the council’s opening.
The council reminded the church of what is “essential,” the pope said: “a church madly in love with its Lord and with all the men and women whom he loves,” one that “is rich in Jesus and poor in assets,” a church that “is free and freeing.”
Pope Francis, sent greetings to the World Council of Churches 11th Assembly as it opened.
The Pope wished the representatives of the churches at the 31 August to 8 September assembly “a meaningful and fruitful meeting that deepens and strengthens the bonds of communion between the Churches and the ecumenical organizations present.”
The pontiff said in advance greetings that he has a “pastoral interest in the work of the Assembly.”
Pope Francis also noted that the Catholic Church has sent “delegated observers” to WCC assemblies since the WCC 3rd Assembly took place in New Delhi in 1961.
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.”
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.
The leaders of the Orthodox, Catholic and Anglican communions of churches have issued a rare joint statement on the need to protect creation. The message was released yesterday (Tuesday) during the Season of Creation, which runs from runs from 1 September – designated as the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation – to 4 October – the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi. It looks ahead to the UN climate change conference taking place in Glasgow, Scotland, in November.
Pope Francis recorded a video–message which was broadcast as part of the Pentecost service of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Right Reverend Justin Welby. The period between the feasts of the Ascension and Pentecost has traditionally been a time of prayer for Christian unity. Pentecost celebrates that moment when, by the power of the Holy Spirit, peoples of many different languages were united in hearing and accepting the first preaching of the resurrection of Jesus. In the southern hemisphere many countries keep these days as the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, and by promoting the Thy Kingdom Come movement, Archbishop Welby has made it a special time for Christians to unite in prayer for the evangelisation of the world. In the video–message Pope Francis prays that Christians “be more deeply united as witnesses of mercy for the human family” and warns, “We cannot ask others to be united if we ourselves take different paths.”
A new volume of the “Exchange of Gifts” series of the Vatican Publishing House (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, LEV) has been issued. Entitled “Diversi e uniti. Comunico quindi sono” (“Diverse and United: I communicate, therefore I am”), the book draws together a selection of Pope Francis‘s writings in which he reflects on human relationships – the relationships that exist between people created in the image of God.
The text is introduced by Most Reverend Dr Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual leader of Anglicans worldwide. In his preface, Archbishop Welby writes, “My brother in Christ, Pope Francis, lays before us in his words the promise of divine love and mercy: the love that God has for His people and the invitation that God gives to each of us to be in a relationship with Him”.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Right Reverend Justin Welby led a retreat with Pope Francis in Casa Santa Marta this week (10-11 April) for the political leaders of South Sudan. The Reverend John Chalmers, former Moderator of the Church of Scotland was also in attendance. The ecumenical retreat was the fruit of an unprecedented collaborative effort by Lambeth Palace and the Secretariat of State.
A remarkable, spontaneous gesture. Breaking protocol, at the conclusion of his remarks at the end of the spiritual retreat, Pope Francis fell to his knees, kissing the feet of South Sudan’s civil authorities.
“To the three of you who signed the Peace Agreement, I ask you, as a brother, remain in peace”, the Pope said. “I ask you from the heart. Let us move forward. There will be many problems, but don’t be afraid, go forward, resolve the problems”. In impromptu remarks following his address, Pope Francis said, “You have started a process; may it end well. Although struggles will arise, he said, these should stay “within the office”. However in public, he said, “before the people: [keep your] hands united”. In this way, the Pope said, “from simple citizens, you will become Fathers of the Nation”.
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?”
Pope Francis will make a historic visit to an Anglican Church in Rome on Sunday. He’ll join the congregation at the Church of England chaplaincy of All Saints for a short Choral Evensong service; it will include the blessing of a specially commissioned icon and the twinning of All Saints with the Catholic parish of Ognissanti, a Rome church with strong ecumenical ties. The event comes as part of the 200th anniversary celebrations for All Saints which began with a small group of worshippers holding the first Church of England liturgy on October 27th 1816. The current church, close to the Spanish steps, was built over half a century later, designed by one of the most famous British architects of the Victorian era, George Edmund Street. All Saints is the largest Anglican congregation in Italy and part of the [Church of England’s] Diocese in Europe. The church, led by its chaplain, Rev. Jonathan Boardman, and assistant chaplain, Rev. Dana English, was recently granted legal recognition from the Italian State. Diocesan Bishop Robert Innes will be welcoming Pope Francis, together with his suffragan Bishop David Hamid.
A call for Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops from around the world to work more closely together in witness and joint mission is part of the ongoing fruit of a unique eight-day gathering held earlier this fall in Canterbury and Rome, says Regina Archbishop Donald Bolen. “We were commissioned as pairs of bishops to go and work together, to witness together wherever possible, and to encourage our brother bishops to work together,” says Bolen, one of the bishops from around the world commissioned for the task by Pope Francis and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.
“The ongoing story is what the pairs of Anglican and Catholic bishops can do together across Canada, and across the world.” The purpose of the summit was to discover where Catholics and Anglicans can give greater witness to their common faith and collaborate in mission to the world, based on 50 years of dialogue and the agreed statements of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) and the IARCCUM document, “Growing Together in Unity and Mission.”
If Christians are called to live their faith concretely, then they cannot leave out concrete signs of the unity to which Jesus calls them. And just because the formal Anglican-Roman Catholic theological dialogue has been forced to grapple with new church-dividing attitudes toward issues such as the ordination of women and the blessing of same-sex marriages, it does not mean that common prayer led by Anglican and Catholic leaders and concrete collaboration by Catholic and Anglican parishes are simply window dressing.
Dozens of Catholic and Anglican bishops and several hundred priests and laity from both communities gathered in Rome in early October to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Vatican meeting of Blessed Paul VI and Anglican Archbishop Michael Ramsey of Canterbury, almost 50 years of formal theological dialogue through the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (known as ARCIC) and the 50th anniversary of the Anglican Centre in Rome.
The celebrations, highlighted by an ecumenical evening prayer service Oct. 5 with Pope Francis and Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, coincided with a meeting of a newer body, the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission, known as IARCCUM.