Mixed balance sheet with future prospects

Mixed balance sheet with future prospects

Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin Welby (r.) © Maurizio Brambatti

Pope Francis and the Anglican Primate of England, Justin Welby, celebrated a service together in Rome. In doing so, they commemorated the beginning of official dialogue between Catholics and Anglicans 50 years ago.

Evening Prayer was held at the church of St. Andrew and St. Gregory on Monte Celio. The celebration was attended by 36 Catholic and Anglican bishops from 19 countries, according to Vatican sources.

Mixed balance of the dialogue

At the end of the evening prayer, Francis and Welby signed a statement. In it, they give a mixed review of the dialogue so far, but express hope for further progress. In the past 50 years, he said, "great progress" has been made in relations between the two churches. Especially with regard to the ordination of women and the attitude toward homosexuality, however, there was new disagreement. The question of how authority is exercised in the church also remains contentious. However, he said these differences should not lead to a reduction in ecumenical engagement.

Call for cooperation in everyday life

In his homily, the pope called on both churches to cooperate in everyday life. Catholics must always ask themselves if an activity could not be tackled together with the "Anglican brothers", he said. Welby said that if Christians fought among themselves and did not share mercy and forgiveness, the church would become a "circus for gladiatorial combat". Christian unity emerges through works of mercy, she said. This Thursday, the Archbishop of Canterbury will meet with the Pope for talks at the Vatican.

The beginning of the official dialogue between Catholics and Anglicans is marked by the meeting of Anglican Primate Arthur Michael Ramsey with Pope Paul VI. on 23. March 1966 at the Vatican. At the time, they agreed to establish a mixed international commission that has since met regularly to reach agreement on contentious ies.

The monastery of Saint Andrew and Saint Gregory on the Roman hill of Celio was the home of the Benedictine monk Augustine, whom Pope Gregory I. 596 and – after a first failure – again 597 to the mission of the Anglo-Saxons to the south of England sent out. Augustine later became the first bishop of Canterbury.

Third meeting between Francis and Welby

It is the third Roman meeting of the current Primate Welby with Francis, after June 2013 and June 2014. Most recently, the church leaders met at the World Meeting of Religions for Peace in Assisi in mid-September.

Between 1397 and 1960, there were no visits between the Pope and the Primate of England for centuries. In the course of the Reformation, King Henry VIII separated from the Church. of Rome and declared himself head of an Anglican state church in 1534.

Only since the ecumenical thaw of the 1960s has an increasingly trusting dialogue developed.

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