(Vatican Radio) The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby joined the head of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, Cardinal Kurt Koch and other ecumenical experts on Wednesday for a Symposium at Rome’s Gregorian University marking half a century of progress in Anglican-Catholic relations.
The Symposium, entitled ‘50 Years of Walking Together in Faith’ explored not only the theological progress made through the documents of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), but also the ways in which communities are working to incorporate those developments into the life of the local churches. Taking part in the Symposium were pairs of Anglican and Catholic bishops from countries around the world who are spending a week together in Canterbury and Rome, sharing pastoral challenges and best practices for closer practical collaboration.
Later on Wednesday evening, Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby presided together at Vespers in the Rome church of St Gregory on the Caelian Hill, signing a common declaration and symbolically sending out the Anglican and Catholic bishops together on a renewed mission of evangalisation.
One of the organisers of this week’s events is Fr Tony Currer, in charge of Anglican-Catholic relations at the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. He spoke to Philippa Hitchen about this significant milestone in ecumenical relations…
Fr Tony says he hopes these events will mark a milestone in two different ways: firstly, by celebrating the 50th anniversary of first historic meeting in the Vatican between Archbishop Michael Ramsey and Blessed Pope Paul VI and the many developments that stemmed from that encounter.
But in the Vatican, he continues, “we have lots of anniversaries that come from the Second Vatican Council” so rather than just being “a point to look back and congratulate ourselves on what we’ve done, we have put a lot of effort into IARCCUM (International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity and Mission) to make sure this is a forward looking event”.
Fr Tony also points out the Catholic-Anglican dialogue is the only group to have two commissions within the Pontifical Council, ARCIC for the theological work and IARCCUM to look at “how to make those agreements into tangible expressions in the life of Anglicans and Catholic Christians across the world”
Speaking of the impact of this week’s events, Fr Tony says the task of the pairs of bishops working in partnership is to be “advocates for collaboration” within the episcopal conferences and Anglican provinces in their own regions.
He says the mandating of these bishops will be a “powerful sign” at the church of San Gregorio, the place from where Gregory the Great sent Augustine out on mission to England. Once again, he says, the church “will again be a place of sending on mission” but this time “like the Lord sending His disciples out in pairs, they will be sent out in pairs on mission to the world to respond to pastoral challenges of our day”