Catholics, Anglicans say they must work as one to proclaim Gospel

The fact that Roman Catholics and Anglicans are not in full communion does not excuse them from working together to proclaim the Gospel, according to a representation of bishops from both communities that included Brisbane Catholic Archbishop John Bathersby.

CLICK HERECatholic News Service reports that members of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Consultation on Unity and Mission met over the weekend outside Rome and joined Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, at a Sunday evening prayer service at Rome's Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.

Anglican Archbishop Peter Carnley of Perth, Anglican co-chairman of the commission, said Roman Catholics and Anglicans must witness together not only to give credibility to their message, but also to give the world a glimpse of the nature of God.

In his homily at the prayer service, Archbishop Carnley said the only valid model for Christian unity is the unity of the Trinity, described by St. Basil the Great as being "three persons and one communion."

The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are "not absorbed into the life of the others to the point where all individuality is lost," but they are one "by virtue of the fact that they share a common will and a common purpose; they are one in the common exchange of love," Archbishop Carnley said.

The unity of the church is not just a reflection of the unity of the Trinity, he said, it is a sharing in that unity.

In interviews after the prayer service, Archbishop Carnley and other members of the commission said they were finishing work on a document that would outline Anglican-Roman Catholic theological agreements achieved over the past 40 years and give practical suggestions for ways members of the two communities could act on the agreements together.

Archbishop John Bathersby of Brisbane, the Catholic co-chairman of the commission, said the document would try to summarise "what we hold together," what the remaining differences are and what practical action can be taken jointly.

The archbishop said the future of Roman Catholic-Anglican dialogue faces questions related to how the Anglican Communion deals with internal tensions over issues related to homosexuality and to the ordination of women bishops in the Church of England, the mother church of the Anglican Communion.

"But what we do know is that we have a great deal of agreement" on matters of faith "and, surely, out of that, action has to follow," he said.

"Just because we are not in full communion we do not have an excuse for not going out and working together for the kingdom of God," Archbishop Bathersby said.

Anglican Bishop David Beetge of Highvale, South Africa, said the commission gives Anglicans and Roman Catholics "a vehicle for working together and identifying areas where we can cooperate" even as the Anglican Communion deals with its internal questions.

"We in the Anglican Communion understand we are not making things easy for our dialogue partner, but I am hopeful we will move forward," he said. "Sacraments, the dignity of human life, spirituality, theology - there is so much there we can and must celebrate.

"When we pray and work together, our own members and the world see how close we really are," Bishop Beetge said.

US Episcopal Bishop Ted Gulick of Kentucky said the commission hopes "to harvest the theological fruits" of 40 years of official dialogue, "taking the thinking and turning it into mission."

Clarity about the faith Roman Catholics and Anglicans hold in common, he said, "begs for action."

Catholics, Anglicans say they must work as one to proclaim Gospel (Catholic News Service 14/11/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission - ARCIC (Centro Pro Unione)
Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity | Anglican Communion

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15 Nov 2005