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Very brief observation on Anglican-Catholic relations

The Holy See tends to see the Anglican Communion as the Church of England;
Anglicans tend to see the Catholic Church as the Church of Rome.

While Rome and Canterbury are sister churches in need of full communion, they represent communions broader that the local primatial sees!

Thank you, Dame Mary Tanner.

Seriously, Anglicans, referring to the Catholic Church as the “Roman Church” is equivalent to Catholics referring to the Anglican Communion as the “Church of Canterbury”, or “Canterburian Church”.

Moreover, “Roman Catholic” is better suited for the Latin Church – it excludes all the Eastern Catholics. It is entirely inaccurate to apply this name to the entire Catholic Communion. Even if you can find pre-Vatican II era Catholic texts that do so (the only post-conciliar texts which do so are ecumenical concessions…)

There are more Catholics in say, Brazil (130 million), than in Italy (50 million). More Catholics in the Church of Mexico City (7 million) than in the Church of Rome (2.5 million).

I have lived near, and even in, the same monastery from which St. Gregory the Great sent missionaries to England at the turn of the seventh century, so i understand the deep relationship between the Church of England and the local Church of Rome, but let us remember the bigger picture.

As for the Holy See, one could hear in recent years the lament that “there’s no point in ecumenism any more now that they ordain women bishops.” As if the 2015 ordination of Allison White in the Church of England was the first in the Communion, and not Barbara Harris in 1989 in the Episcopalian Church (U.S.).

Similarly, the Holy See tends to see all of Lutheranism as it if it is the German Evangelishkirche. How easily some forget the episcopal polity of the Nordic countries or that there are as many Lutherans in Ethiopia as in Sweden (about 6 million each).

This is, i think, a symptom of Euro-centrism. It is a parallel to the linguistic myopia wherein Europeans insist on learning, and seeing as normative, Portuguese of Portugal (10 million speakers) rather than Portuguese of Brazil (201 million speakers); Spanish of Spain (46 million) rather than Spanish of Mexico (120 million); British English (60 million) rather than American English (300 million).

Malines Conversations Group – Communiqué

From March 17 to 20, a group of Anglican and Catholic theologians gathered at the Monastery of Chevetogne in Belgium to initiate a new ecumenical exploration under the title ‘Malines Conversations Group’.  Desiring to stand in the tradition of the Malines Conversations, which were convened by Cardinal Mercier of Mechelen (Malines) in the 1920’s, the Group’s first meeting included reflection on socio-cultural, liturgical and ecclesial developments from the time of the Malines Conversations to the present, and on the anthropological dimension of liturgical experience in our two communions.

During the meeting, the Conversation participants joined the monks of Chevetogne for their worship, both in the Byzantine and Latin rite traditions. They also went on pilgrimage to Mechelen and joined in prayer at the tomb of Cardinal Mercier.

Like the Malines Conversations of the 1920’s, the current dialogue is informal and not officially sponsored by Anglican and Catholic Churches, though it has been organized in consultation with and has received the blessing of Church authorities. Archbishop Rowan Williams and Cardinal Godfried Danneels have agreed to serve as Patrons of the Conversations.  At the recommendation of those responsible for coordinating ecumenical relations in the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion, the Malines Conversations Group will remain in communication with both the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) and the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM).

Though not intentionally planned this way, the meeting was held during the same historic week as the inauguration of the Petrine Ministry of Pope Francis and the enthronement of Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, and was imbued with the hope which those events carried for the life of our two communions, and the future of our relations.

Anglican participants:

  • Rev. Dr. Jennifer Cooper, College of the Resurrection, Mirfield, UK
  • Rev. Dr. James Hawkey, Westminster Abbey, London, UK
  • Rev. Dr. Simon Jones, Chaplain of Merton College, Oxford, UK
  • Rev. Dr. Jeremy Morris, Dean of King’s College, Cambridge, UK
  • Rev. Dr. Michael Nai-Chiu Poon, member of ARCIC III, Singapore
  • Canon Dr. Nicholas Sagovsky, member of ARCIC III, London, UK

Catholic participants:

  • Most Rev. Donald Bolen, Catholic Co-Chair of IARCCUM, Saskatoon, Canada
  • Dr. Joris Geldhof, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium
  • Dr. Maryana Hnyp, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium
  • Rev. Dr. Keith Pecklers, S.J., Gregorian University, Rome
  • Rev. Dr. Thomas Pott o.s.b., Monk of Chevetogne, University of Sant’Anselmo, Rome
  • Rev. Cyrille Vael o.s.b., Monk of Chevetogne

The Malines Conversations Group members expressed their heartfelt thanks to Abbot Philippe Vanderheyden and the monks of Chevetogne for the extraordinary welcome extended to them.  Their aim is to meet again next March at a location in the United Kingdom.

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