The occasion, in Central London
, was the national launch of Anglican Catholic Future, a new network seeking to renew the Catholic witness of the Church of England
. The Rt Revd
Stephen Conway, Bishop of Ely, was celebrant of the Mass of the Holy Spirit that had as its preacher, the Vicar of historic catholic shrine, St Mary Magdalen, Oxford
, Fr Peter Groves.
In his sermon
Fr Groves said, “If we are prepared to stop talking loudly about our own new ideas – ideas we’d probably find in Augustine, or Aquinas, if we bothered to look – we might be patient enough to listen to and learn from the universality, the catholicity, of the Christian faith. There is nothing in God’s creation which is not transformed by the incarnate love of Christ, past, present and future. ”
Anglican Catholic Future seeks to inspire laity and clergy for the work of Christian mission and ministry rooted in Catholic practice, piety and theology. Its mission statement declares, “By returning to the fundamentals of the apostolic faith, but without recourse to political agendas and party rivalries, we seek the renewal and revitalisation of the church’s mission and apologetic proclamation.”
It goes on to say, “The Catholic identity of the Church of England has suffered a crisis stemming from a preoccupation with divisive issues. As a result the Catholic tradition in Anglicanism
has become fragmented and nerveless. Many who hold this tradition dear feel that the time is right to rediscover our Catholic roots and values for the sake of the church’s witness in our land.”
A letter of greeting and encouragement from the Archbishop of Canterbury
, the Most Revd Justin Welby, was read to those assembled. In the letter he said, “I am deeply grateful to God for the catholic principles which you espouse and by which you live. I am thankful that together we belong to a church both catholic and reformed – a church which welcomes a breadth of Christian expression under the Lordship of Christ” A pastoral letter was distributed signed by nineteen bishops from the Catholic tradition of the Church of England. The bishops state “Within the ministry of the whole people of God we believe that a catholic future for the church will be one that rejoices in the ministry of women and men as bishops, priests and deacons. We know that you will be open to the insights and fruits from the breadth of the whole church and trust that you will be an encouragement to all at the start of this new chapter.”
Ten regional groupings are being established to make this a truly national network, and we invite anyone interested in associating with this new venture to register via the website, http://www.anglicancatholicfuture.org
and to help support the work as they can, as individuals and congregations.
The congregation included bishops, priests, deacons, laity, young and old, seminarians and a wide spectrum of persons overall.Photos by Toby York of the launch can be viewed here
Future events will include Canterbury Pilgrimage in October.
At the end of the Mass one parish priest said, “It was like Easter Day
all over again, and then some.”
Having experienced the sheer aesthetic beauty of the Church of The Annunciation at Marble Arch, in London, I can well imagine the joy experienced by these Anglo-Catholics gathered in celebration of the renewed face of Anglican catholicism in the U.K.
Let’s all hope that ‘Anglican Catholic Future’ proves to be an open, welcoming feature of a new catholic revival in the Church of England, and not a mere abstraction from the traditional heart. Already, though, its association with the organisation ‘Affirming Catholicism’ brings some assurance of the more inclusive view.
Knowing that Fr.Philip Chester is the Vicar of St. Matthews Anglican Church, Westminster, and Fr. Alan Moses is from one of the other great bastions of Anglo-Catholicism in the heart of London – All Saints. Margaret Street, that both welcome Women and the LGBT community into their congregations, one can only believe that this new blossoming of the tradition will augur well for the future of the tradition.
Deo gratias! Christ is Risen, Alleluia!
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand