Bishop Tim Thornton at the Synod on the Family
The Church of England’s Bishop of Truro, the Rt Revd Tim Thornton, represented the C of E and Anglican Communion at the Roman Catholic Church’s recent Synod on the Family.
In this video, he tells the Vatican website about the importance of Anglicans and Roman Catholics “journeying together” and to understand each other’s cultures rather than simply read each other’s documents.
The Anglican Church News Service (ACNS) has today provided this useful video link with the on-line reflection (mid-Synod) of Anglican Bishop Timothy Thornton, the Bishop of Truro in the Church of England. Bishop Timothy found the experience of being at this gathering of Roman Catholic Bishops from around the world, as an invited observer, to have been a most valuable insight into the eirenic way in which Pope Francis has addressed the meeting. Both Bishop Timothy and the Pope are keen that the Church exerts the highest degree of pastoral and personal ‘listening’ to members of families, in order that their real needs might be addressed, in a more Christ-like fashion by the Church.
This second video link hosts the reflection of other observers – both Roman Catholic and non-Roman clerics and laity – who give their opinion on how being at the Synod had affected them, personally. Perhaps the most surprising reflection – in this particular video, is from the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane, ++Mark Coleridge – whose enthusiasm for Pope Francis’ address to the Synod on ‘Synodality’, wherein the Pope defined the papacy – not as being ‘above the Church’, but rather part of it as a Baptised Christian; a member of the College of Bishops; and the Petrine voice of the Church whose discernment gathers up the essence of the Holy Spirit’s wisdom from the deliberations of the Synodical Church which involves every member.
Archbishop Mark was in obvious agreement with Pope Francis’ definition of the Church as ‘Synodical’ (rather than hierarchical – ruled from the Vatican) – while acknowledging the role of Peter’s Successor as the Interpreter of the voice of the Holy Spirit in the Church. The Archbishop of Brisbane also indicated that this could have an effect on how the Roman Catholic Church in Australia could carry out its mission, and on his return he would quite possibily be recommending that the Australian Catholic Church should operate synodically in future.
Even Pope Francis said that the local bishop is the first shepherd of the flock in his own diocese – an understanding more like the ideal of Anglican and other non-Roman episcopal Churches, where the local bishop has more authority in his/her own diocese than might presently be granted to diocesan bishops in the Roman Catholic Church.
This idea would not lessen the authority of the Pope as ‘Moderator’ of the Roman Catholic Church, but it will allow laity and clergy, as well as bishops, a larger part in its administration at the local level.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand