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ENGLAND, WALES: Anglican, Catholic bishops hold bi-lateral meeting


Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams (left), with the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor  

[Episcopal News Service]  The Church of England House of Bishops and the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales are joining together for a bi-lateral meeting at Hinsley Hall, Leeds, November 14-15.

The bishops are being chaired by the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, and the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor.

The meeting, fraternal in character, is based on shared prayer, discussion and a desire for further development of their shared Christian witness. Their reflections are being resourced by the work of the International Anglican - Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM), whose report is expected to be published in 2007.

Williams and Murphy-O'Connor issued the following statement:

"This historic meeting, forty years on from the visit of Archbishop Michael Ramsey to Pope Paul VI -- the meeting from which the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission dialogue flowed -- marks a further development in the warm relations that exist between the Anglican and Catholic Bishops in England and Wales. Many of us already meet together regularly at regional and local meetings, and are involved in a wide range of shared projects.

"We recognize the importance of working together to present a shared Christian witness to our society, and acknowledge the importance of working with other Christian denominations, and with those of other faiths to take forward the common good in society.

"This meeting is a significant sign of our mutual commitment to dialogue and joint witness based on our common faith. It underlines our responsibility to work together as partners in mission and service to the people of our country. The mission given to us by Christ obliges and compels us to engage more deeply and widely in this partnership in mission, grounded in dialogue and shared prayer.

"Our Christian faith is rooted in our common baptism. However, our communion remains imperfect. 

"Our enthusiasm for dialogue means that we must be honest in addressing issues on which we disagree. This is possible when we hold to the Gospel. We trust in the Holy Spirit to inspire our pilgrimage to unity and common mission."

The meeting is being held in line with the mandate of the IARCCUM, which is a joint commission of bishops responsible to the Anglican Communion and the Holy See for finding practical ways to express the fruits of the dialogue between Anglicans and Roman Catholics. Its mandate draws on the recommendations of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Joint Preparatory Commission in Malta, in 1968.