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Lutheran Bishop Receives the Eucharist in St. Peter’s, Rome

Lutheran bishop receives communion at St Peter’s Basilica

Lutherans communion resized

The National Catholic Register reportedsources stating that Bishop Samuel Salmi of Oulu in Finland and other Finnish Lutherans indicated to the Catholic priests at the Mass that they wanted a blessing.

They reportedly tried to show they were ineligible to receive by putting their right hands on their left shoulders.

But the priests, who were reportedly aware that the people coming forward were Lutherans, offered them communion anyway.

The bishop said Pope Francis was not at the Mass.

But Bishop Salmi added that the Pope has repeatedly indicated he would like to develop unity between different denominations.

Bishop Salmi told a news agency that Pope Francis has theological enemies in the Vatican and so may be limited in how freely he can speak.

After news reports came out about Lutherans receiving Catholic communion, the Finnish Catholic Church called the incident a mistake and an obstacle to unity.

In November, Pope Francis urged a Lutheran woman married to a Catholic to “talk to the Lord” about receiving Catholic communion.

She should then “go forward” the Pope said, but he cautioned that he “wouldn’t ever dare to allow this, because it is not my competence”.

The Pope’s words were interpreted by Rome’s Lutheran community to mean that Lutherans could receive Catholic communionin accordance with their conscience.

But just before Christmas, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said this was not correct.

Cardinal Gerhard Müller told the National Catholic Register that “misunderstandings come up again and again because of a failure to take account of the fact that, unfortunately, there is actually a different understanding of the Church between Catholics and Protestants”.

These differences, he said, “are not only theological-conceptual, but of a confessional nature”.

He added that the Church continues in its ecumenical goal to reach “visible and institutional unity”, with the Pope as head of the Church.

In October, Pope Francis is to participate in a joint ecumenical commemoration in Sweden marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

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Although Pope Francis was not present at this departure from Catholic Tradition (allowing non-Catholics to receive the Eucharist in a Roman Catholic ceremony); there can be little doubt – being aware of this Pope’s eirenic attitude towards non-Catholics – that he would have offered the Eucharist to a visiting party of Lutherans together with their Bishop at a Mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

This relaxation of Vatican protocol seems most encouraging – especially in the light of the fact that His Holiness will be present at an important Lutheran gathering in Sweden to mark the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

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Communion Light – or Heavy?

A tale of two Primates

Let me start by being up front:

I strongly believe,as a liberal or progressive or, if you really insist revisionist, on matters relating to human sexuality that last week was a bad week for the Anglican Communion.

I would have preferred a looser fitting communion to have emerged from the conference, an idea floated by ++Justin. But this didn’t happen. Has the opportunity to re-shape the communion gone forever? I think it probably has.

My own view is that by 2020 it is possible, highly possible, that the Anglican Communion, will have disintegrated, with critics blaming either Archbishop Justin or those liberal Episcopalian types such as Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.

The critics will be wrong, however, for the future of the Anglican Communion will be determined by the arch conservatives. 

++Justin and +Curry, in my view, both emerged from last week have chalked up a few notches on the leadership score board.

Archbishop Justin deserved credit not because he secured some form of significant victory, because he didn’t. At best he has taken the communion, perhaps, against the odds, into ‘time added on for injuries.’

He deserves huge credit for ensuring that the discussions about human sexuality (why do we use  this phrase when we really mean homosexuality) were not limited to the scope of marriage. Above all Justin was courageous enough  to court ridicule and risk total, and personal, failure.

Justin was right to remind his colleagues, and the world, that the church has both caused pain and withheld love from same sex brothers and sisters. And, he was right in ensuring his critique was global:

I want to take this opportunity personally to say how sorry I am for the hurt and pain, in the past and in the present, that the church has caused and for the love that we at times completely failed to show, and still do so, in many parts of the world, including this country.’

For ++Justin the church is not an innocent bystander and by implication neither are his arch-episcopal colleagues. Yes primates it is official: you, as bishops, have been and continue to be agents of pain and injustice. Not my words, but Justin’s.

More on the epoch changing implications of this later.

Bishop Michael Curry was grace personified. He accepted his ‘yellow card’ with such dignity it beggars belief. In reacting to his estrangement he thanked all who had prayed for both him and the Episcopalian church. He reminded each and every one of us of our mission to bring salvation into the here and now through the eradication of all forms of injustice and, he proclaimed Jesus Christ as Lord. Finally he dared to say that the T.E.C. may well have a vocation to challenge and lead the Anglican Communion in issues relating to human sexuality and, he spoke without bitterness or rancor.

So what will determine whether the Anglican Communion has a future? I think it all comes down to the quote below  taken directly from the ‘Communique’ issued by the Primates. I suggest that on this one quote hangs the future of the Anglican Communion.

‘The Primates condemned homophobic prejudice and violence and resolved to work together to offer pastoral care and loving service irrespective of sexual orientation. This conviction arises out of our discipleship of Jesus Christ. The Primates reaffirmed their rejection of criminal sanctions against same-sex attracted people.’

Sadly, some conservative primates were, with indecent haste and little forethought, keen to stress that the precise nature of condemnation and the exercise of pastoral care should be decided upon locally. If ‘we’ really are a communion, or even a domination, this idea should be given the heave-ho. Why?

Because, the whole point of being in a communion is collective responsibility and mutual accountability. That was the rationale for excluding  the T.E.C. from active involvement in shaping the life of the communion over the next three years. 

The conservative primates simply can’t have it both ways. You are either ‘resolved to work together’ (their words) or, to work in isolation. In a communion you can’t determine your own terms and conditions. The conservative success last week was in establishing this in relation to doctrine. The liberal success was in enshrining this principle in relation to justice; specifically justice for the global LGBTI community. And it is only because both the conservative and the liberal teams (a nicer word than opponents)  were able to make partial gains that we are now in time added on for injuries.

And so, each and every primate and province faces a self-imposed, and collective, challenge namely to demonstrate to their brothers and sisters in Christ that their commitment to end violence and prejudice is concrete and real and that they don’t simply fall into the trap of saying ‘I wish you well,’ without actually doing anything to radically reduce homophobia.

The (predominately conservative) Primates have actually pledged to change the face of human history. Maybe they really mean it; maybe they need to be more careful when signing on the dotted line, but lets give them the benefit of the doubt and ask the question that arises from their amazingly bold, and collective, statement: are the primates really up for it?

If they are the Anglican Communion may have a new and better future. If their words are shallow, if they refuse to accept the principles of mutual accountability, ‘peer group review’ and the judgment of their ‘colleagues’ (even their ‘liberal’ colleagues)  despite the noblesse of the language used in the ‘Communique’ then the communion is already in a state of palliative care and deserves to be put out of its misery.

Conservative Primates over to you. You have set yourselves a hard task. It is unlikely that you are going to change your core doctrine, yet you have pledged to change human history. And, you have pledged to do it, not in isolation but together as members of a communion. You have said that you will love liberal colleague and your homosexual neighbour as yourself.

What does this mean, what does it look like, what are the specific actions that will make this a lived reality? What is grace demanding of you given the commitments you have made?  

These are your questions.

________________________________________________________________I find Andrew Lightbown’s article, referenced by Simon Sarmiento on ‘Thinking Anglicans‘, to be another very deep and thoughtful reflection – from the point of view of an admittedly gay person – on the outcome from the Primates’ Meeting in Canterbury. 

Andrew’s mention of the expression of penitence for the Communion Churches’ treatment of homosexuals, by the Archbishop of Canterbury on behalf of the assembled Primates, needs to be validated by some sort of action that is consistent with that apology, or its is simply ‘a gong booming or a symbol clashing’, which Scripture tells us is useless as a tool for the implementation of Gospel justice.

Of course, the Archbishop of Uganda – bless him – was not able to live with the implications of that apology and left the Meeting before the formal communique – containing this apology – was promulgated. The reason being that his own Province of the Anglican Communion has expressed its desire that TEC be expelled from the Communion – precisely because of its innovative acceptance of homosexuals within the life and ministry of its provincial Church.

Almost as if to dodge the real issue, however, the reason for the discipline inflicted on TEC has been stated as its re-definition of the Institution of Marriage (to include Same-Sex-Unions).  Now everyone is aware that this was hardly the underlying presenting problem. Same-Sex raltionships of any sort are, and have been, a problem for Uganda and each of the GAFCON Provinces, whose institutional homophobia has been attributed to certain passages of the Bible that have been cited as authoritative – even today – as determining gender and sexuality issues in the 21st century.

Former dealings with issues of human justice – such as slavery and the equal treatment of women in the Church – have also been attributed to the authority of the Bible. However, such issues, quite rightly, have now been addressed, progressively, in the context of an enlightened view of society. The Church, which has been erected on biblical ideals of justice underpinning the treatment of society’s most vulnerable, needs to keep up with current understandiongs of what justice means for every sector of society, and that includes those who are unjustly marginalised for something they have no control over – their sexual orientation.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Anglican Primates challenged on Action re LGBTI Apology

Apology to LGBT community must be followed by action, senior Anglicans warn Archbishop of Canterbury

Reuters
The Archbishop of Canterbury

Senior Anglicans who wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury on the eve of last week’s Primates Meeting have thanked him for his apology for the way the Church has treated the gay community, but warned that his words must be followed by action.

Eighty-five senior Anglicans who originally signed a letter to Archbishop Justin Welby have written again to thank him for the apology he made to LGBT Christians at the end of the Primates Meeting, but added that words alone are not enough.

They warned that words without action will further undermine trust and cause “yet more pain”.

At the end of their week-long meeting, during which the conservative Archbishop of Uganda left early, the remaining Primates of the Anglican Communion agreed by a substantial majority that The Episcopal Church should face “consequences” for consecrating gay bishops and approving same-sex marriage.

About the lesbian and gay community, Archbishop Welby said: “I want to say how sorry I am for the hurt and pain in the past and present that the Church has caused and that the love we have at times completely failed to show.” This followed the publication of an open letter to Welby calling for repentance for the way the Church had behaved towards the LGBTI communities.

The latest letter, signed by more than 80 people including cathedral deans, retired bishops and senior clergy and laity, says that failure to carry into action the commitments on equality and opposing criminal sanctions would seriously undermine trust and lead to further pain for LGBTI Christians.

They say the stance taken in the Primates’ Communique is a welcome first step: “These are significant and important words, which will engender hope that the Church might finally start to alter the way in which it conducts this debate. That said, we believe that words alone are not enough.”

The letter draws attention to the lack of action on commitments first given in 1998, when similar words were used in Resolution 1.10 from the 1998 Lambeth Conference, which laid down a conservative, Biblically-orthodox line on sexuality.

The 85 signatories tell the Archbishop: “You will therefore understand that we will want to hold the Primates to account for their commitments. We are deeply aware that words without action will undermine further the trust of our LGBTI brothers and sisters, and sadly cause yet more pain.”

Canterbury Cathedral
Primates at evensong in Canterbury Cathedral last week.

The letter goes on to urge all the Primates who agreed to the communique “to remain true to your word and resolute in your determination to implement these statements swiftly.”

Jayne Ozanne, co-ordinator of the two letters and a member of General Synod, told Christian Today: “Our initial letter asked in essence two things – the acknowledgement that the Church had failed in its duty of care to LGBTI members of the Body of Christ, and repentance for pain and rejection that it has caused. The Primates’ communiqué following the 2016 Primates Meeting has done both, added to which they have reaffirmed their rejection of criminal
sanctions against gay people.

“Archbishop Justin has gone one step further and personally apologised for the pain that the Church has caused. We therefore need to recognise these positive statements for what they are, and take them as a sign of hope that the Primates will work with us to fight injustice. To do otherwise would of course involve a betrayal of trust.”

The communiqué and personal apology are the strongest statements made yet by the Anglican Primates against criminal sanctions, which still exist in many parts of Africa.

One signatory, the Ven David Newman, a leading evangelical and Archdeacon of Loughborough, said: “I know that many across the Church will want to welcome, as I do, the lead the Archbishop has given in making such a full and heartfelt apology for the hurt and pain the Church has caused our LGBTI brothers and sisters in Christ. My prayer is that his lead will shape the tone of how we talk about this issue and instigate a renewed determination across the communion to confront homophobic prejudice wherever it infects our attitudes to others.

“I hope that significant steps will be taken to stand against the criminalisation of people purely on the grounds of their sexuality. As followers of Christ I believe we can do so much more to model his welcoming love to people in all their potential and vulnerability.”

Other signatories include Vicky Beeching, a theologian and LGBT campaigner, the Very Rev Mark Bonney, Dean of Ely, Canon Chris Chivers, Principal of Westcott House, Cambridge, Canon Jeremy Davies, former Precentor of Salisbury Cathedral, Dr David Ison, Dean of St Paul’s, Dr Jeffrey John, Dean of St Albans and Prof Diarmaid MacCulloch, specialist in church history at the University of Oxford.

Lambeth Palace has not yet commented on the letter, but in response to other people who have written regarding the Primates Meeting, his office said: “Archbishop Justin has asked me to write thanking you for your message following the recent Anglican Primates’ gathering in Canterbury. You will not be surprised to learn that we have received an enormous number of messages and letters, some angry and distressed at the outcome, while others were supportive of it.

“Archbishop Justin fully recognises the strength of feeling that attends any discussion which touches on human sexuality. The communiqué that was issued at the end of the meeting seeks to respect that… As you will see, the Primates condemn homophobic prejudice and violence, and resolve to work together to offer pastoral care and loving service irrespective of sexual orientation. This conviction arises out their discipleship of Jesus Christ. Importantly they also reaffirm their rejection of criminal sanctions against same-sex attracted people.

“The communique states the Primates’ intention to develop a newly agreed process so that it can be applied to any unilateral decision which threatens unity. It is their hope and expectation that the conversation will develop and continue in the months ahead.

“As a global Anglican family each Primate represents but one voice in a Communion where the majority are from the Global South. That is also true for the Archbishop of Canterbury, although he chairs the meetings. It is important to know that the Primates made the unanimous decision to remain walking together in the Communion, however painful it might be, as a deep expression of their unity in the body of Christ.”

The response also pointed towards the Archbishop’s latest blog on the subject, in which he says: “As I said in the press conference on the final day of the meeting, I am deeply sorry for the pain that the church has caused LGBTI people in the past – and the present – and for the love that too often we have completely failed to show in many parts of the world, including England. The worst thing about that is that it causes people to doubt that they are loved by God. We have to see that changed.”

He also admits he feared the Primates Meeting would end in schism: “It’s no secret to say that before the meeting, the signs were not good. It really was possible that we would reach a decision to walk apart – in effect, to split the Anglican Communion.”

He concludes: “If Christ’s flock can more or less stay together, it’s hope for a world that tears itself apart – a sign of what can happen with the love and mercy of God through Jesus Christ.”

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This latest article arising from the recent Primates’ Meeting in Canterbury this month – by Christian Religious Affairs Editor Ruth Gledhill, of ‘Christian Today’ – indicates the need for the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates of the Anglican Communion to put flesh on the bones of their conciliatory moves towards the LGBTI community in the Church. The letter from 85 senior Anglican – including Cathedral Deans and retired Bishops (perhap the only C. of E. Bishops who feel able to protest on this issue) is mentionerd here:

“The 85 signatories tell the Archbishop: “You will therefore understand that we will want to hold the Primates to account for their commitments. We are deeply aware that words without action will undermine further the trust of our LGBTI brothers and sisters, and sadly cause yet more pain.”

In the wake of the controversial disciplining of TEC by the Primates’ Meeting, one really does wonder what the Primates are actually DOING about following up their apology for sanctions being made in the Global South against LGBTI people, whose lives are still in danger from being criminalised by repressiove governments. Until action is taken by the Primates of the Anglican Church in those Provinces concerned, there may be wide-spread disbelief in the integrity of the apology made by the Archbishop of Canterbury and his co-Primates.

See also:  https://jacobluther.wordpress.com/2016/01/21/hymn-to-the-anglican-communion/

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Archbishop Welby condemns ‘cancer’ of extremism

Tim Wyatt by Tim Wyatt  – Church Times –  Posted: 29 Jan 2016 @ 12:04

UN PHOTO/RICK BAJOMAS

Click to enlarge

Summit: Ban Ki-moon’s motorcade leaves Davos, last Friday

CHRISTIANITY is not immune from the “cancer” of violent extremism, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

Every world faith, including Christianity, includes a minority of people who refused to live peacefully with those who were different from them, Archbishop Welby said.

“We need to remember it’s not just Daesh [Islamic State, or IS]. In all the major world faith traditions, including Christianity, there is a group that cannot tolerate diversity, cannot tolerate difference,” he said.

Speaking during a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last Friday, Archbishop Welby said that the current surge of violent religious extremism was the worst that Christianity had experienced since the 16th- and 17th-century wars of religion.

Although it was clear that sociology and economics partly explained religious extremism, faith leaders also had a responsibility to offer a theological narrative that was more attractive than that offered by IS, the Archbishop argued.

The answer was to promote “good religion”, he said. “As a Christian, I would say that our role is to present the faith of Christ in a way that is so clearly full of the love . . . of God that it is an effective counter-narrative in and of itself.”

AP

AP

Click to enlarge

Discussion: Archbishop Welby speaks with the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Shawki Ibrahim Abdel-Karim Allam (left), and the President of the Centre for the Study of Islam and the Middle East (CSIME) at Davos, last week

The Archbishop also criticised those who would attempt to proscribe extremist thought itself. Using words attributed to Queen Elizabeth I, he told the audience that “you cannot make windows into men’s souls. . . We cannot look into the inner heart of a person. And therefore I think we have to be very careful about thought control. To educate, yes. To inspire, even better. To make things hard to think, better still. But to control thought is taking on the values we are trying to oppose.”

He also questioned whether it was possible to define extremism, noting that, in some senses, Martin Luther King had been an extremist.

Earlier on Friday, Archbishop Welby had joined a discussion with the Grand Mufti of Egypt, among others, about how different faiths could work together to combat extremism.

He said that interfaith dialogue was more “honest” now than in the past: discussion was no longer reduced to “Wouldn’t it be nice if we were all nice!” But the West still needed to become more comfortable speaking of its extremism problem through theological language.

“We no longer have the vocabulary; we have lost the capacity in Europe to use theological values to discuss our differences in society generally.”

While at the Forum, Archbishop Welby also took part in a discussion on how faith communities were responding to the challenges of the 21st century, including inequality.

In a statement, he asked people to pray for everyone taking part at the summit. “Now, perhaps more than ever, we need to work collaboratively and unselfishly for the common good.”

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I have high-lighted the first three paragraphs of this communique from this week’s ‘Church Times’ – reflecting that, in the present circumstances of the Anglican Communion’s recent Primates’ Meeting, and the obvious problems that occasioned that meeting, you will need no further comment from me to discern the Archbishop of Canterbury’s thoughts on the urgent need to accept diversity in the Church.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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John Vanier addresses Community of Saint Anselm

‘You are more precious than you dare believe’ – Jean Vanier speaks with Community of St Anselm

15 Jan 2016

The founder of the L’Arche movement, Jean Vanier, spoke with members of the Community of St Anselm at Canterbury Cathedral this morning.

Vanier, 86, yesterday addressed the week-long gathering of Anglican Communion Primates at Canterbury Cathedral that concludes today.

The Community of St Anselm, an international Christian community for young men and women launched by the Archbishop of Canterbury, has been praying for the Primates in the Cathedral every day this week.

Speaking to the Community in the Crypt where Primates have gathered for worship this week, Vanier spoke of the importance of trusting oneself.

“The big thing is to trust oneself. It’s about listening to the inner voice. Listening to something that’s inside each one of us, which is a compass to make us more human, and more in tune with things of God.”

“In the Vatican Council is says the dignity of the human being is the personal conscience, which is that secret sanctuary where God speaks with each of us, indicating what is just and true and helping us move away from the opposite.”

“We are in a world where people are not encouraged to listen to the inner voice – what do you think, what do you believe? – we are in a world where people are not encouraged to believe in themselves.”

He added: “You are more precious than you dare believe.”

Reflecting on his decades-long experience of living in community with people with disabilities and without, Vanier said communities such as the Community of St Anselm are “nourishing” because they involve living with people who are very different from ourselves.

He said it is good to be surrounded by those who clash with us, because it helps us find “the place of nourishment” and “to discover little by little who am I”.

Vanier answered questions from the Community about living with fear and growing in faith. He said his deepest fear is fear of humiliation, and his deepest desire is to be with Jesus.

Watch the Community of St Anselm on praying for the Primates at Canterbury Cathedral: https://youtu.be/rusKyFKpdCA

(See also the following link from Bishop Graham Kings, Mission Theologian in the Anglican Communion: http://fulcrum-anglican.us3.list-manage2.com/track/click?u=18b39f33b318532d34bc38396&id=16b6e848a4&e=d8f439ab22

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From the very useful link to Bishop Graham King’s overview of the Primates’ Meeting, (linked immediately above the line here) I have selected the above article which describes the informal impromptu meeting of Fr. John Vanier (L’Arche Community) with the Lambeth Palace-based ecumenical Community of St. Anselm.

The fact that Fr. Vanier had introduced to the remaining Primates, on the final day of their meetings in Canterbury, the prospect of joining together in the Foot-Washing ceremony – as a way into corporate reparation for perceived (and secret) activities that encouraged division in the Communion – affords us all some idea of the tensions within the gathering that were able to be dealt with by those prelates remaining at the Meeting.

Interesting too is the fact that the ecumenical Community of Saint Anselm – set up by the ABC at Lambeth Palace for the purpose of seeking the unity of Christians – should have been praying especially for the Primates’ Meeting and, as a consequence, received a personal visit from Fr. John Vanier, Founder of L’Arche communities around the world, that deal specifically with disabled and broken people.

Restoration and reconciliation are two priorities for this 86-year-old Roman Catholic priest. May we hope that his words to the young people at Lambeth were fruitful in their working for unity in the Universal Church. And may the experience of the Primates’ mutual foot-washing have renewed, or brought about, a spirit of deep fellowship in the hearts of the participants. 

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Corporate Blessing from Canterbury, Rome & Constantinople

A picture paints a thousand words

What thousand words is this picture saying?

++David Moxon’s own report is here, but I suspect Anglicans, Roman Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox might have their own thousands of words to say.

Pope Francis is really pulling out all the stops to reach out, beyond the strict literalness of Roman law (which, for instance, declares Mr David Moxon to be a layperson) and previously expressed papal views (that, saving the Eastern Orthodox) other Christians belong to “ecclesial communities” and not to actual, real churches. So here he includes Archbishop David Moxon in a shared blessing of thousands of Christians gathered at the end of a week of prayer for Christian unity.

But, wait, there is more.

Pope Francis has also said these words in his homily on the occasion. Words which are full of extraordinary grace and hope for real progress to be made towards actual Christian unity:

“As Bishop of Rome and pastor of the Catholic Church, I want to ask for mercy and forgiveness for the behavior of Catholics towards Christians of other Churches which has not reflected Gospel values. At the same time, I invite all Catholic brothers and sisters to forgive if they, today or in the past, have been offended by other Christians. We cannot cancel out what has happened, but we do not want to let the weight of past faults continue to contaminate our relationships. God’s mercy will renew our relationships.” (from the same link above)

Note that Pope Francis is crystal clear: he talks of “other Churches” (not, “ecclesial communities”).

Let me put that in another way: other Churches.
And in case I have not clearly pointed out to you the expression he used, it was: OTHER CHURCHES.

Actually, even more important than such recognition, is the recognition that Catholics have erred. But so have Protestants and I think the “ball” of confession, forgiveness and repentance has been lobbed into our church courts. Who will make reply?

We are living in a new ecumenical era. The wave is flowing, will we catch it or miss it?

________________________________________________________________

What more wonderful demonstration of Christian Unity can there be than this? Pope Francis, Bishop of Rome; an Anglican Archbishop; and an Eastern Orthodox Metropolitan are pictured here giving a corporate Blessing on the occasion of a Roman Catholic-sponsored service at the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in the Holy City itself. And all at thespecific invitation and encouragement of the Pope himself.

This extraordinary show of solidarity with ‘other Christians’ was not just some off the cuff nod to ecumenism but an honest outreach of the reigning Pontiff towards other Church Leaders on his own turf. The only comparable collegial outreach of any reigning pontiff towards the leadership of the Anglican Church was when Pope Paul VIth took off his episcopal ring and gave it to a visiting  Anglican Archbishop. Perhaps we Anglicans might hope that the official Roman Catholic denial of the efficacy of Anglican Orders might be re-addressed during the reign of Pope Francis. Too much to hope? I think not.

Granted that Kiwis may be more interested than most Anglicans in this particular occasion – simply because the Anglican prelate pictured here is none other than our very own Archbishop David Moxon, formerly Pakeha Archbishop of ACANZP and currently the Anglican Communion’s Representative to the Holy See, living in Rome. Archbishop David is an acknowleged Anglo-Catholic – whose own episcopal ordination actually took place in the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Hamilton, New Zealand. No! He wasn’t ordained to, but only in, the Roman Catholic Church, his own Cathedral in Hamilton being deemed too small for the occasion of his consecration.

I cease to be amazed at the ecumenism and deep humanity of Pope Francis. In his eirenic attitude towards other Christians, and indeed to other religions and all humanity; he has shown the pastoral concern and humility of the Christ he follows. Let’s hope that his concern for others outside of his own ecclesial community will rub off on those members of the Vatican Curia who are currently concerned about just how far he might go to build up the Body of Christ in ways perhaps differently from their own more conservative view.

May this be the beginning of an era in the Roman Catholic Church that will help to break down barriers between people of faith in Christ as Redeemer and Light of the World.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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