Rome: 50th Anniversary Symposium and Lecture: Interweavings Number 14, October 2016

Graham Kings

by Graham Kings

Date added: 18/11/2016

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Rome: 50th Anniversary Symposium and Lecture

Interweavings for October 2016

by Graham Kings


50 years ago, Pope Paul VI surprised Archbishop Michael Ramsey at the end of his visit to Rome. He gave him his episcopal ring. The Archbishop of Canterbury burst into tears. He recognised that the gift was fraught with theological significance, so soon after Vatican II.

Archbishop Justin wore that ring this month in Rome, during the 50th anniversary celebrations of his predecessor's visit. On 5 October 2016, Pope Francis I gave him not a ring but the head of a bishop's crozier. It was a specially made replica of the crozier head associated with Pope Gregory the Great. The original crozier head had been lent from San Gregorio to Canterbury Cathedral for the Primates' Meeting in January this year.

The context was Vespers at the Church of San Gregorio, Rome, where the Pope and the Archbishop commissioned 19 pairs of Catholic and Anglican Bishops for united mission. This was the monastery where Archbishop Justin's first predecessor, Augustine, was Abbot. From there, Pope Gregory the Great sent him to evangelise the English and gave him the 'Canterbury Gospels', which are now kept in Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. The original crozier head was present at Vespers, next to an icon of Christ, Gregory and Augustine. Augustine became Archbishop of Canterbury in 597 AD.

In 2013, Francis was inaugurated as Pope on Tuesday 19 March. Two days later, Justin was inaugurated as Archbishop of Canterbury, as he kissed the Canterbury Gospels and sat on Augustine's chair. Hence, the Pope's lighthearted greeting to the Archbishop at their first meeting that year, 'I am more senior than you...'

I was very moved to be present at Vespers and the dinner afterwards, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Michael Ramsey's visit. From the visit emanated three institutions of great moment: the Anglican Centre in Rome; the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) and the renewal of diplomatic relations, after 5 centuries, between the United Kingdom and the Holy See.

In this Interweavings article, we shall be considering first the anniversary Symposium held at the Pontifical Gregorian University that morning and then my lecture at the Pontifical Urban University.


A. Symposium of ARCIC and IARCCUM at Gregorian University

19 Anglican and 19 Roman Catholic Bishops held a conference this month which began at Canterbury and culminated in Rome, with the Symposium at the Gregorian and Vespers at San Gregorio. It was part of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity and Mission (IARCCUM), which published Growing Together in Unity and Mission in 2006.

This was set up in 2001, following a meeting in Mississauga, Canada in 2000, between Archbishop George Carey and Archbishop Edward Cassidy, the then President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. It has a focus on grass roots episcopal involvement in unity and mission throughout the world. It was seen as a balance to the longer established theological focus of ARCIC, which was, at the time, going through particular difficulties.

Canon Dr John Gibaut, Director of Unity, Faith and Order for the Anglican Communion and Fr Tony Currer, who serves at the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, assisted in the planning of the conference. There were four parts to the Symposium: introductory statements from the co-chairs; four lectures; two testimonies; and addresses by Cardinal Koch and the Archbishop of Canterbury. The following is based on my notes at the time.


 1.   Co-Chairs of ARCIC and IARCCUM

Archbishop Bernard Longley, the Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham and co-chair of ARCIC, spoke of the theological significance of gestures. He referred first to Pope Paul VI's gift to Archbishop Michael Ramsey; second, to the invitation of Pope Saint John Paul II to Archbishop George Carey to open doors of St Paul Outside the Gate, which resonated with Vatican II's concept of the continuity of episcopal ministry in Anglicanism, 'Rome needs the churches of East and West to express full catholicity’; third, to the Synod of Bishops on New Evangelization, in 2012, where Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop Rowan Williams were together. He then looked forward to the Commissioning of the 19 pairs of Bishops that evening at Vespers and - it seems in hindsight - prophetically to the gift at Vespers.

Archbishop Sir David Moxon, Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, and Anglican co-chair of ARCIC, spoke of the role of the Centre in ARCIC and of the events of that week.

Bishop David Hamid, Assistant Bishop in Europe and co-Chair of IARCCUM, spoke of the importance of hierarchy in the process of the reception of discussions on unity and of the Commission's role in putting flesh on a key desire of the 1966 meeting: communion in mission.

Archbishop-Elect of Regina, Canada, Don Bolen, and co-Chair of IARCCUM, mentioned that during the last few days in Canterbury they had discussed persecution, secularism and moral problems. He quoted the Ecumenical Directory of the Pontifical Council, 'To do everything together that is allowed by their faith' - which echoes the Lund Principle of 1952. On 31 October 2016, Pope Francis visited Lund in Sweden for the beginning of the year of celebrations of the 500th anniversary (31 October 2017) of Luther's 95 Theses being nailed to the door of the Castle Church at Wittenberg.


2. Four Lectures

(a) Dr Anna Rowlands, Lecturer in Catholic Theology at Durham University, was a theological consultant at the IARCCUM conference. She spoke of the importance of ecumenical social teaching documents emanating from the first meeting of Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin.

She mentioned that the official body of Roman Catholic social teaching was plural and suspicious of magisterial statements. On the Anglican side, the cloud of social witnesses included Samuel T Coleridge, Matthew Arnold, William Temple, Desmond Tutu and Rowan Williams.

Temple had a consistent view of nationality as a gift from God and the role of the nation in Divine Providence. For him, the nation had a 'corporate personality'. The nation, as well as the Church, is a gift from God. Catholics, following the French Revolution, are more wary of the concept of the nation state. She mentioned 'Saints for our Day': Oscar Romero, Thérèse of Lisieux, and (perhaps one day...) Dorothy Day. 'Dying together so that we may live together'.

She concluded with three summary interpretations: first, the foundational role of human dignity, freedom, and scriptural anthropology; second, the ecclesiological significance of the gospel; third, the importance of intermediate virtuous civil institutions, including voluntary bodies.

(b) The Revd Canon Professor Nicholas Sagovsky, Whitelands Professorial Fellow, University of Roehampton, London, a member of ARCIC II and III, and former Canon Theologian of Westminster, focused on four main points.

First, for the sake of the dispossessed we need our ecumenical responses to be in good working order. In September 2016, faith leaders had written to the British Prime Minister urging her to welcome more refugees. This followed a similar letter from lawyers and economists. Sadly, however, Roman Catholic bishops in England and Wales were not amongst the 224 leaders who signed the letter, though some Jesuits were.

Second, the Anglican influence on the founding of the British Welfare State. Of the four founding fathers, three were practicing Anglicans. William Beveridge was the architect of the Welfare State and R H Tawney was its prophet. Both were laymen and brothers-in-law, associated with the London School of Economics. William Temple was the Archbishop of Canterbury. The fourth, Mynard Keynes, was an admirer of the other three. All four took on 'squalor, ignorance, want, idleness and disease'.

The duty of the benign state was to care for all its citizens. Sadly, ‘the Welfare state was now turning into the Market State'.

Third, the established nature of Anglicanism. The Anglican contribution to the Welfare State was made possible because the Church of England is the Established Church. The other Provinces of the Anglican Communion are not legally established, but often have a national influence. Sometimes for good, e.g. Desmond Tutu chairing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa and sometimes for bad e.g. the previous Apartheid regime and Anglican relations to indigenous peoples in different parts of the world.

Fourth, a model of theologically inspired practice. Bishop David Sheppard and Archbishop Derek Worlock were role models in Liverpool for over 20 years. Their episcopal partnership was iconic and shared with the President of Free Church Council. They gave priority to each other in their diaries. They ministered together and represented the needs of the city to central Government. Their legacy can be seen in the founding of the Liverpool Law Centre and of the Ecumenical College, now renamed Liverpool Hope University.

(c) Professor Paul Murray, Professor of Systematic Theology and Director of the Centre for Catholic Studies at Durham University, and Dr Paula Gooder, Theologian in Residence at the UK Bible Society, gave a joint lecture on Receptive Ecumenism and ARCIC III. Both are members and they mentioned its three concerns towards a 'differentiated union in Christ' at local, regional and universal levels: describing their structures; acknowledging their tensions and difficulties; and considering ways forward.

Paul Murray spoke of learning from Anglicans about lay people in ecclesial governance and about the significance of the Lambeth Conferences and Primates' Meetings. Lay people in the Catholic Church are limited to consultation and are not involved in decision making and in the selection and appointment of bishops. There are regional bodies and Episcopal conferences, but these are strongly centred in Catholic teaching.

Paula Gooder said 'Anglicans are good at diversity...' and showed her appreciation for: Roman Catholic mechanisms for unity; Synods of Bishops as places to gather for formation, learning, consultation and discernment; corporate episcopal leadership at the national level; even Apostolic Nuncios being helpful. She ended with a short exposition of Ephesians 4:1-3, as a vision of relating, showing humility, gentleness, patience and bearing with one another in love.

(d) Dr Etienne Vetö is a member of the charismatic Catholic Chemin Neuf community and teaches Trinitarian Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University. He looked towards the future and spoke first of eight mega trends leading up to 2050: the ongoing rise of the 'Third Church' of the global South (after the East and the West); the continuing decline of the Church in the global North; migrations due to persecution and climate change; the significance of other religions, especially Islam; the bio-tech revolution; the gender and sexual revolutions; the social media and web revolutions: polarizations moving from left and right, and progressive and conservative, to something new.

The latter trend seemed to me to particularly full of insight. He considered future polarities, beginning now, to be in three dimensions; Open and Closed (borders and economics); Populist and Institutional (emotions and reasons); and Extremist and Moderate (politics and religions).

He considered the 'Charismaticisation of the Church' by discussing this ‘Third Church’ in both intra-denominational and ecumenical dimensions. He then raised the issues of the guidance of the Holy Spirit and Providence in our personal lives: 'Are we acting with the Holy Spirit's support or is the Holy Spirit acting through us?'; 'God's action may not be so much in causality as in vocation, promise, commitment, visitation, consummation, and judgement.'

He concluded with brief questions about gender and sexuality asking, ‘Why is it so difficult to agree on these ethical questions?’ and ‘While we still disagree, what degree of unity can we have?’

3. Two Testimonies from Beyond Europe: Paired Bishops in the Middle East

(a) Archbishop Paul Nabil el-Sayah, Archeparch of the Maronite Church and Curial Bishop of the Maronite Catholic Patriarchate of Antioch, spoke of his experience of Lebanon as a secular state to where Christian converts come from all over the Arab world. He mentioned the challenges of armed conflict, freedom of conscience and militant Islam.

He considered that the ecumenical response should include: working with moderate Muslims; re-creating the civil state (separating religion and nation); accepting the equality of religions and the freedom of conscience; initiating joint social projects; letting the East help the West to deal with Islam.

He concluded forcefully: 'Syria is a disgrace. Nobody is safe. During our coffee break a humanitarian convoy to Aleppo had been bombed.'

(b) Bishop Grant Lemarquand, Assistant Bishop of the Horn of Africa, in the Diocese of Egypt, began by saying, 'The Bible is a book about migration' and went on to give an overview. He then described how Anglican refugees became unintentional missionaries from Sudan during their Civil War. They began a church in Gambella, Ethiopia. Now, after 30 years, there are over 100 Anglican churches. Since the current outbreak of inter-ethnic fighting in the new country of South Sudan in December 2013, there has been a new wave of refugees.  When he arrived in Gambella in 2013 there were 300,000 residents: now, with the new refugees, there are about 600,000.

He concluded with a moving conversation he had had with a refugee from South Sudan:

'What did you carry with you?'

'Our children.'

'What did you leave behind?

'Our elderly, the keepers of our tradition.'


4. The Cardinal and the Archbishop

(a) Cardinal Kurt Koch, the President of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity  launched the Final Report of ARCIC II, 1983-2005, Looking to a Church Fully Reconciled, This was edited by three members of ARCIC II, Adelbert Denaux, Nicholas Sagovsky, Charles Sherlock.

The Cardinal said that it is longer than the short pithy statements of ARCIC I. This book includes the following statements:

1. Salvation and the Church (1987)

2. Church as Communion (1991)

3. Life in Christ: Morals, Communion and the Church (1994)

4. The Gift of Authority: Authority in the Church III (1999)

5. Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ (2005)

Each of the five statements has an introduction, a summary of its reception and an essay of elucidation.

(b) Archbishop Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, expressed his thanks to Cardinal Koch, Archbishop David Moxon and the Gregorian University. He spoke of the importance of integrity in our speaking:

We love one another and need to talk honestly. We don't need always to put out our best China. Ours is the ecumenism of wounded hands. In IARCCUM, we become each other's healers by walking together into the world. We have avoided simplicity this morning: simplification exaggerates. Benjamin Franklin said, "If we don't hang together we will most assuredly hang separately." The same is true in Ecumenism.

The Archbishop stated that we are called together to tackle persecution, poverty, climate change, nationalism, and human trafficking:

The future of Ecumenism is relational, more than institutional. If relational, then painful.

He said that he was struck that until Bishop Grant Lemarquand had spoken, Africa had not been mentioned:

Africa has the "forgotten wars": 4 million people died in 25 years in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

He mentioned the refugee Muslim family from Homs, Syria, who had been dug out from the rubble and are now living at Lambeth Palace.

He enjoyed Nick Sagovsky's emphasis on praxis and said that he still uses the dining table in the Old Palace at Canterbury, around which Temple, Beveridge and Tawney discussed the proposed Welfare State. As a former Dean of Liverpool, he rejoiced in the legacy of David Sheppard and Derek Worlock.

Finally, the Archbishop introduced briefly to the Symposium the Community of St Anselm, who had accompanied him from Lambeth Palace and the 15 Primates who had come from around the Anglican Communion. Both groups joined him later, with the choir of Canterbury Cathedral, for Vespers with Pope Francis at the Church of San Gregorio, where he preached.


B. Lecture at the Pontifical Urban University

Prior to my lecture at the Pontifical Urban University, on 7 October 2016, I was shown round the archives and the ethnographical museum of the Propaganda Fide by Professor Sandra Mazzolini, Professor of Missionary Ecclesiology at the University, and the assistant archivist at the museum, Giovanni Fosci. I had met my host, Professor Mazzolini, first at the Eccelsiological Investigations conference at Georgetown University, Washington in May 2015.

Propaganda Fide was founded in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV to evangelize the nations of the world and to protect the Catholic Church against heresy in Europe in particular. Since 1988, at the instigation of Pope John Paul II, it has been named the Congregation for the Evangelization of the Peoples. The museum and archives are spectacular. Amongst other artefacts, we saw the first biography of St Francis Xavier, 1506-1552, written on palm leaves in Tamil; the historic letter from the Coptic Pope in Alexandria to the head of the newly founded Propaganda Fide; a letter from the Dalai Lama, dated 1741 with a fine seal, to the Pope, giving permission to preach the Gospel in Nepal; and a hand-written letter from John Henry Newman, dated 1853, to Prefect of the Propaganda Fide, giving thanks for his help with arranging for a written blessing from the Pope to be sent to Newman.   

It was a great joy to give a lecture in the Newman Hall of the Pontifical Urban University. I was invited by the Rector, Professor Fr Alberto Trevisiol, I.M.C., and by the Dean of the Faculty of Missiology, Professor Carmelo Dotolo, and chose the title ‘Evangelical-Catholic Dialogue on Mission, 1977-1984: Insights and Significance’. Professor Sandra Mazzolini kindly arranged to have it translated into Italian, and this helped me finish writing it three weeks in advance! As well as faculty members and students, two of the Anglican Bishops, who had been commissioned at Vespers at the Church of San Gregorio on the Wednesday by the Pope and Archbishop of Canterbury and who were still in Rome, came to the lecture: John Bauerschmidt, Bishop of Tennessee, and Grant Lemarquand, Bishop of the Horn of Africa.

In the lecture, I explored the archives of John R W Stott in Lambeth Palace Library, where I have a research desk. While he was Rector Emeritus of All Souls Church, Langham Place, London and theologian of the worldwide Evangelical movement, he co-chaired the Evangelical-Roman Catholic Dialogue on Mission, from 1977-84. The Catholic co-chair was Mgr Basil Meeking, under-secretary of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, Rome. This is a rich seam in the archaeological strata of a significant period for mission and ecumenism. Both the Dialogue and resulting Report were extraordinary and unique in their time. I argued that the style of the Report is neat, irenic, lucid and concise – as to be expected of Stott – and that the content is fair in its elucidations of the two traditions.

The dinner afterwards, with members of the Faculty, will remain with me as a key memory of conviviality.



It was a joy to be in Rome for this historic week. Other events included receptions at the Knights of Malta, the Anglican Centre, and the Residence of the UK Ambassador to Italy, with a concert by the choir of Canterbury Cathedral. Morning Prayer in the crypt of St Peter's Basilica, led by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Community of St Anselm, was particularly moving.

It was wonderful to see Archbishop Bernard Longley again, the Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham. In 2001, he had preached in the NI Shopping Centre at the beginning of our ecumenical Good Friday procession along Upper Street, Islington, when I was vicar of St Mary's church.

I enjoyed staying with the young theologians of ‘Covenant’, the theological website of The Living Church, including the editor, Dr Zachary Guiliano and the editor of The Living Church, Dr Christopher Wells. Eating together, with wine, theology and discussion, turned into another memorable ongoing symposium.



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