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A communique from the all-male Anglican & Roman Catholic bishop’s gathering

A communique from the all-male Anglican & Roman Catholic bishop’s gathering

Roman Catholic and Anglican bishops met from 30 SEP – 7 OCT for the 2016 meeting of the International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM). Following the meeting this communique was issued;

IARCCUM 2016 has been an extraordinary, historic summit, rich in symbolism and significance for the Anglican Communion and Catholic Church.

It brought together 36 bishops from around the world for a week in Canterbury and Rome to celebrate the deepening relationship between the two traditions over the past 50 years – and to find practical ways to work together to demonstrate that unity to the world and address its social and pastoral issues.

The highlight was the mandating of the bishops by Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, at a service they jointly led at the chapel of San Gregorio al Celio. The service also saw the Pope and Archbishop exchange gifts as a sign of friendship – echoing the moment in 1966 when Pope Paul VI presented his papal ring to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey – a moment that ushered in a new era of dialogue.

The days in Rome also saw the formal presentation of a document detailing 20 years of work on reconciling the two traditions by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission. And the bishops attended a symposium on current relations between the churches and the possibilities of future co-operation and dialogue.

The time in Canterbury was also rich in symbolism. The Suffragan Bishop in Europe, David Hamid, gave the homily at a Catholic Vigil Mass in the undercroft of the Cathedral. The following day, the Archbishop-elect of Regna, Donald Bolen, preached the sermon at the Sung Eucharist.

Bishop David – who co-chairs IARCCUM with Archbishop Don – said the summit had been an historic time in the history of our official dialogue, and deeply valuable.

“This has been an immensely rich occasion, full of significance for our two traditions. It has been a source of deep joy to all the bishops gathered from all over the world, who have shared their experiences, their challenges and their wisdom. It was a profound time of collegiality and communion, and they are inspired now to go out into the world and work together for unity and common mission.”

Archbishop Don said it had been an incredible time and he was excited about the future.

“The bishops engaged in everything in a way that was beautiful to see. Strong friendships have formed. In our discussions, we did not shy away from the difficulties we sometimes face. But the possibilities for our two traditions working together in a needy world are abundant and promising.”

One of the bishops, Archbishop Paul Nabil El Sayah from Beirut said the summit had been a joyful occasion that would yield practical results.

“The atmosphere has been very positive,” he said. “You can feel there is deep, sincere fellowship and a willingness to bring new things forward. I am completely sold on practical ecumenism. I see lots of potential. This is not about looking inwards but about coming to the outside world together. The more we come together, the more our message has credibility.”

Bishop Alwin Samuel, from Sialkot in Pakistan, has been working alongside Archbishop Sebastian Shaw from Lahore during the summit. Bishop Alwin said he was looking forward to collaborating more with the Catholics at home.

“We have been looking at how we can take concrete steps towards unity. One example is where we have existing projects of our own. We looked at how we could begin to work together on them. For example, in areas such as health, especially women’s health, where one church might provide the resources and the other would deliver them.”

The photo and text of the communique are from the Anglican Communion News Service.


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Jay Croft

Ayup, Rod. It makes my teeth grate to see the term “separated brethren.” Very patronizing.

Related: Old-time popes would give long speeches targeting “the faithful.” With so many falling away from the RC version of Christianity, it would have been better to focus on “the unfaithful” or at least “the wavering.”

Marshall Scott

From Archbishop Paul Nabil El Sayah from Beirut: “I am completely sold on practical ecumenism. I see lots of potential.”

I would agree with this, and note that when we it is possible it happens best at the local level. Current official climate can make things difficult sometimes, but where two congregations or two judicatories can find common cause that is worth pursuing.

Paul Goings

“The difficulty is that Rome’s official negotiation starting position is that it does, in fact, have all the truth, i.e. that the ‘fullness of catholicity’ resides in the Roman Catholic Church.”

Okay, then what is Anglicanism’s starting position? Do we think we could be wrong about X, Y, or Z? If not, then our starting position is the same as Rome’s, except that we’re “right” about the popular social issues.

Rod Gillis

Anglicanism does not have a starting position. There is no Anglican counter part to the decrees of modern RC councils.

Rod Gillis

@ Paul Goings, “…we indeed do have a starting position, and one that we are convinced is correct.” Yes, organizations do have policies and positions, and those who support those policies do so because they hold them to be correct.

But on the matter at hand, comparing apples to apples as it were, ecumenism, unity, and ecumenical co-operation, Rome has a starting position as outlined in the Decree on Ecumenism.

When Bishop Waynick says, “None of us has all the truth…” she is articulating a very Anglican approach, one that is more open ended and egalitarian, one that is the opposite of the Roman notion that the R.C. church possesses “the fullness of Catholicity”. That position governs who Rome participates in practical ecumenical endeavors, and is used to enforce how other churches may participate, in this case by not excluding women bishops from the so called “pilgrim pairing”.

The issue here is that Rome, officially, sees church unity in terms of all the other “separated brethren” re-joining Roman obedience.

Paul Goings

But Anglicanism does have positions that differ from RC issues (apart from the dogmatic/doctrinal controversies). So we indeed do have a starting position, and one that we are convinced is correct. In this we do not differ essentially from Rome, save for being on opposite sides of certain issues, which, again, we think we’re right about.

Susan Huyton

The woman in the picture is Anna Rowlands, A Roman Catholic theologian on the staff of Durham University.

Rod Gillis

Well done, for identifying Dr. Rowlands, in the photo. Published photos should i.d. all members in the shot. Kinda of metaphor for the problem, no? Was Rowlands a staff theologian for the event? Hans Kung and Joe Ratzinger were staff at Vatican II, and ironically, became as memorable as the bishops of The Council were forgotten to history.

Vicki Zust

I hope the male bishops, including Presiding Bishop Curry, who participated in the event and were complicit in allowing half of humanity to be referred to and treated as “obstacles” rather than an equal human beings at least have the decency to blush the next time the recite the Baptismal Covenant promise to “respect the dignity of every human being”. Apparently their willingness to strive for that didn’t include missing the chance to participate in a party and photo op.

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