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Ecumenism: A summit meeting of Catholics and Anglicans in Rome

Ecumenism: A summit meeting of Catholics and Anglicans in Rome

This week, more than 50 bishops from 27 countries will discuss a stronger common witness in a fractured world, some in the presence of Pope Francis and Anglican President Justin Welby, the global Anglican Communion announced.

The motto of the ecumenical meeting until Monday, January 29, is “Growing together.” The program of bishops from all continents, appearing in pairs as Anglicans and Catholics, began Tuesday with a tour of St. Peter's Basilica and an Anglican “Evensong” in the iconic Vatican Cathedral.

The Pope and the President at Paul's grave

Highlights on Thursday (January 25): Then Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby want to assign bishops in pairs to “be witnesses of Christian unity” at the tomb of the Apostle Paul in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. He added that this will be an important moment symbolizing Anglican-Catholic solidarity and the advancement of ecumenical dialogue. The summit is organized by the International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM), which was established by the two churches for ecumenical dialogue.

In addition to the daily discussions, there will be a visit to the Church of San Bartolomeo in Rome, where Archbishop Welby will preside over the Anglican Eucharistic celebration. The group is expected to arrive on Friday at the church of San Gregorio al Celio, where Pope Gregory the Great sent the first Archbishop of Canterbury to England in 597.

And in Canterbury, southern England (January 26-29), a visit to St. Thomas Catholic Church is on the agenda. The Catholic Bishop of Hong Kong, Cardinal Stephen Chow, preaches at Anglican Canterbury Cathedral.

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Progress of ecumenism

Among the topics discussed at the meeting were the situation of the churches and peoples in all the regions represented, the conciliarity, the environment, peace and reconciliation, and protection from abuse in the church. The summit will be co-chaired by the Catholic Archbishop of Regina (Canada), Donald Pullen, and the Anglican Bishop of the Diocese of Europe, David Hamid.

“Anglicans and Catholics have been engaged in dialogue at the international level for 55 years,” Pollan noted. Although consensus was reached on key issues that were once contentious, the successes of the dialogue did not change the relationship at the local level. “IARCCUM’s goal is to build on this history of dialogue by encouraging pairs of bishops in different parts of the world to help their churches live creatively and faithfully to the degree of what we have in common,” the Archbishop stressed.

Anglican Bishop Hamed said that the “Growing Together” program was unique in the ecumenical world. During the meeting, the bishops will have the opportunity to “share the joys and sorrows of the episcopal office” and explore how the two churches can improve the lives of people locally and around the world.