Stories of popes from the Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogues
In their first meeting, Archbishop Justin and Pope Francis both spoke this morning of the bonds of “friendship” and “love” between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.
The two leaders agreed that the fruits of this dialogue and relationship have the potential to empower Christians around the world to demonstrate the love of Christ.
The Archbishop and the Pope agreed on the need to build an economic system which promotes “the common good” to help those suffering in poverty.
The new director of the Anglican Centre in Rome says he sees promising signs for more visible ecumenism in these early days of Pope Francis’s pontificate. The Most Rev. David Moxon, who became ACR’s director on May 23, says he’s been steadily encouraged by symbolic acts, such as the pope’s solicitation of prayers from a diverse crowd in St. Peter’s Square and his washing of at least one non-Christian’s feet during Holy Week. “These are signs of hope in a very down to earth and genuine way,” Archbishop Moxon said via email from Rome. In addition to his role as director, Moxon is the Archbishop of Canterbury’s representative to the Holy See.
When Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher returned from his historic visit to Pope John XXIII in 1960 he reported that the Holy Father asked him when the Anglicans would come back to the Catholic Church. Fisher replied: ‘We cannot come back but we can go forward together.’ At the time this revelation stunned and excited both Anglicans and Catholics. It appeared to mark one the most hopeful moments in the 424 bitter years since Henry VIII broke with Rome and changed the ‘Church in England’ into ‘the Church of England’
On reflection the comment raises more questions than it answers about the one Church that existed before the schism, and about the Churches that might be going ‘forward together’. If there is no going back to the oneness of the Church before 1534, in what sense will the Churches be one in the new togetherness?
A glance at the early Church in Britain, and a more detailed look at some of the various manoeuvrings toward going ‘forward together’ can give us a somewhat better understanding of the difficulties involved.
Several hours before the historic meeting in the Vatican, three Protestant demonstrators from Britain heckled the archbishop at a Holy Communion service in the All Saints Anglican church in Rome.
The three, two of them Baptist ministers, stood up at the completion of Ramsey’s sermon and exposed aprons emblazoned, “Archbishop a Traitor to Protestant Britain.”