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ITALY: Archbishop and Pope share worship, say 'churches share witness and service'

11/25/2006

ACNS Rosenthal
His Grace of Canterbury and His Holiness of Rome sign the Common Declaration November 23 in the Vatican   (ACNS Rosenthal)

 
[Episcopal News Service]  His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, shared worship together November 23 at the Redemptoris Mater Chapel in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. The worship followed a formal Audience in the Papal Library.

The service took the form of midday prayers with psalms sung in plainsong, in the presence of senior Vatican representatives, including Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, and senior Anglicans, including Archbishop Peter Carnley, former Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, and Bishop David Beetge of Highveld in Southern Africa.

The Redemptoris Mater Chapel, formerly known as the Matilde Chapel, was rededicated by Pope John Paul II in 1999 after nearly four years of restoration work.

After the service Pope Benedict hosted a private lunch for Williams.

Earlier, in a Common Declaration signed by Benedict and Williams, the two leaders expressed thanks for 40 years of cooperation and dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the churches of the Anglican Communion and renewed the historic commitment to the goal of "full visible communion in the truth of Christ." The two paid tribute to the continuing process of dialogue which had begun with the historic meeting between Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey in 1966.

"Since that meeting, the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion have entered into a process of fruitful dialogue, which has been marked by the discovery of significant elements of shared faith and a desire to give expression, through joint prayer, witness and service, to that which we hold in common," the declaration acknowledged.

As that process continues, the declaration said, difficulties and obstacles to this goal caused by new developments within the Anglican Communion would need to be faced.

"...in renewing our commitment to pursue the path towards full visible communion in the truth and love of Christ, we also commit ourselves in our continuing dialogue to address the important issues involved in the emerging ecclesiological and ethical factors making that journey more difficult and arduous."

The churches share a common witness and service, the statement said, and there were issues and challenges which could be tackled jointly.

"There are many areas of witness and service in which we can stand together, and which indeed call for closer co-operation between us: the pursuit of peace in the Holy Land and in other parts of the world marred by conflict and the threat of terrorism; promoting respect for life from conception until natural death; protecting the sanctity of marriage and the wellbeing of children in the context of healthy family life; in outreach to the poor, oppressed and the most vulnerable, especially those who are persecuted for their faith; in addressing the negative effects of materialism; and in care for creation and for our environment. We also commit ourselves to inter-religious dialogue through which we can jointly reach out to our non-Christian brothers and sisters."

The Common Statement concluded with a reminder of the churches' common calling:

"Confident of the apostolic hope "that he who has begun this good work in you will bring it to completion"(cf Phil 1:6), we believe that if we can together be God's instruments in calling all Christians to a deeper obedience to our Lord, we will also draw closer to each other, finding in his will the fullness of unity and common life to which he invites us."

During the Audience, Williams praised the ecumenical commitment of Pope Benedict XVI in a formal greeting presented to the Pope:

"I have been heartened by the way in which from the very beginning of your ministry as Bishop of Rome, you have stressed the importance of ecumenism in your own ministry," he said. "If the Good News of Jesus Christ is to be fully proclaimed to a needy world, then the reconciliation of all Christians in the truth and love of God is a vital element for our witness."

He acknowledged the difficulties and obstacles to unity and said that churches were affected by each other's troubles:

"I say this, conscious that the path to unity is not an easy one, and that disputes about how we apply the Gospel to the challenges thrown up by modern society can often obscure or even threaten the achievements of dialogue, common witness and service. In the modern world, no part of the Christian family acts without profound impact on our ecumenical partners; only a firm foundation of friendship in Christ will enable us to be honest in speaking to one another about those difficulties, and discerning a way forward which seeks to be wholly faithful to the charge laid upon us as disciples of Christ."

Anglicans and Roman Catholics shared a charge, he said, to serve Christ in the preaching of the Gospel:

"However, there is a task which is laid upon us both as pastors of the Christian family: to be advocates of reconciliation, justice and compassion in this world - to be ambassadors for Christ - and I am confident that an honest exchange of our concerns will not be allowed to eclipse what we can affirm and proclaim together - the hope of salvation and healing found in the Grace and Love of God revealed in Christ."

During the Audience, Williams presented the Pope with a specially commissioned icon showing St. Gregory and St. Augustine -- forbears of Pope and Archbishop of Canterbury respectively -- in the presence of Christ the Savior, Lord of the earthly and heavenly realms. The icon has been painted by Sergei Fyodoro, a Moscow-based iconographer. Further details are below.

Earlier in the day, Williams and the Anglican delegation said prayers in St. Peter's Basilica at the Tomb of Pope John Paul II, whose funeral Williams attended in 2005.

Photographs for this article are available here.


Editors Notes

Text of Archbishops Greeting to Pope Benedict XVI
Message from Pope Benedict XVI to the Archbishop of Canterbury
Common Declaration of the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and Pope Benedict XVI
Anglican Delegation for the Papal Audience (in alphabetical order)
Note on Archbishop's gift to the Pope
 

Text of Archbishop's greeting

Your Holiness,

It gives me great pleasure to be able to greet you in this city, which was sanctified in the very early days of the Christian era by the ministry of the Apostles Peter and Paul, and from which so many of your predecessors have borne noble witness to the transforming Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Early in my ministry as Archbishop of Canterbury, I was able to visit your much loved and venerated predecessor, Pope John Paul II, and to bring to him the greetings of the worldwide Anglican family of churches of some eighty million Christians. Pope John Paul had inspired many throughout the world by his dedication to Christ, and, as you know, had won a special place in the hearts of many beyond the Roman Catholic Church by the compassion and steadfastness revealed in his ministry to all.

As we meet on this occasion, we are also recalling and celebrating the visit forty years ago of my predecessor Archbishop Michael Ramsey to Pope Paul VI, when this encounter between the leaders of the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches initiated a process of reconciliation and friendship which has continued to this day. The ring that I wear today is the episcopal ring which Pope Paul gave to Archbishop Michael, this cross the gift from Pope John Paul II, symbolic of our shared commitment to work together for the full visible unity of the Christian family.

It is in that same fraternal spirit that I make this visit now, since the journey of friendship that they began is one that I believe that we should continue together. I have been heartened by the way in which from the very beginning of your ministry as Bishop of Rome, you have stressed the importance of ecumenism in your own ministry. If the Good News of Jesus Christ is to be fully proclaimed to a needy world, then the reconciliation of all Christians in the truth and love of God is a vital element for our witness.

I say this, conscious that the path to unity is not an easy one, and that disputes about how we apply the Gospel to the challenges thrown up by modern society can often obscure or even threaten the achievements of dialogue, common witness and service. In the modern world, no part of the Christian family acts without profound impact on our ecumenical partners; only a firm foundation of friendship in Christ will enable us to be honest in speaking to one another about those difficulties, and discerning a way forward which seeks to be wholly faithful to the charge laid upon us as disciples of Christ. I come here today, therefore, to celebrate the ongoing partnership between Anglicans and Roman Catholics, but also ready to hear and to understand the concerns which you will wish to share with me.

However, there is a task which is laid upon us both as pastors of the Christian family: to be advocates of reconciliation, justice and compassion in this world - to be ambassadors for Christ - and I am confident that an honest exchange of our concerns will not be allowed to eclipse what we can affirm and proclaim together - the hope of salvation and healing found in the Grace and Love of God revealed in Christ.

Feast of St. Clement
23rd November 2006


Message from Pope Benedict XVI to the Archbishop of Canterbury

Your Grace,
Dear friends,

Grace and peace to you in the Lord Jesus Christ! Your visit here today brings to mind the important custom established by our predecessors in recent decades. It also reminds us of the much longer history of relations between the See of Rome and the See of Canterbury which began when Pope Gregory the Great sent Saint Augustine to the land of the Anglo-Saxons over 1400 years ago. I am happy today to welcome you and the distinguished delegation accompanying you. This is not our first meeting. Indeed, I was grateful for your presence, and that of other representatives of the Anglican Communion, at the funeral of Pope John Paul II, and again at the inauguration of my pontificate a year and a half ago.

Your visit to the Holy See coincides with the fortieth anniversary of the visit of the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Michael Ramsey, to Pope Paul VI. It was a visit filled with great promise, as the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church took steps towards initiating a dialogue about the questions to be addressed in the search for full visible unity.

There is much in our relations over the past forty years for which we must give thanks. The work of the theological dialogue commission has been a source of encouragement as matters of doctrine which have separated us in the past have been addressed. The friendship and good relations which exist in many places between Anglicans and Catholics have helped to create a new context in which our shared witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been nourished and advanced. The visits of Archbishops of Canterbury to the Holy See have served to strengthen those relations and have played an important role in addressing the obstacles which keep us apart. This tradition helped give rise to a constructive meeting of Anglican and Catholic bishops in Mississauga, Canada, in May 2000, when it was agreed to form a joint commission of bishops to discern appropriate ways to express in ecclesial life the progress which has already been made. For all of this, we give thanks to God.

In the present context, however, and especially in the secularized Western world, there are many negative influences and pressures which affect Christians and Christian communities. Over the last three years you have spoken openly about the strains and difficulties besetting the Anglican Communion and consequently about the uncertainty of the future of the Communion itself. Recent developments, especially concerning the ordained ministry and certain moral teachings, have affected not only internal relations within the Anglican Communion but also relations between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church. We believe that these matters, which are presently under discussion within the Anglican Communion, are of vital importance to the preaching of the Gospel in its integrity, and that your current discussions will shape the future of our relations. It is to be hoped that the work of the theological dialogue, which had registered no small degree of agreement on these and other important theological matters, will continue be taken seriously in your discernment. In these deliberations we accompany you with heartfelt prayer. It is our fervent hope that the Anglican Communion will remain grounded in the Gospels and the Apostolic Tradition which form our common patrimony and are the basis of our common aspiration to work for full visible unity.

The world needs our witness and the strength which comes from an undivided proclamation of the Gospel. The immense sufferings of the human family and the forms of injustice that adversely affect the lives of so many people constitute an urgent call for our shared witness and service. Precisely for this reason, and even amidst present difficulties, it is important that we continue our theological dialogue. I hope that your visit will assist in finding constructive ways forward in the current circumstances.

May the Lord continue to bless you and your family, and may he strengthen you in your ministry to the Anglican Communion!


Common Declaration of the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and Pope Benedict XVI

Forty years ago, our predecessors, Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey, met together in this city sanctified by the ministry and the blood of the Apostles Peter and Paul. They began a new journey of reconciliation based on the Gospels and the ancient common traditions. Centuries of estrangement between Anglicans and Catholics were replaced by a new desire for partnership and co-operation, as the real but incomplete communion we share was rediscovered and affirmed. Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Ramsey undertook at that time to establish a dialogue in which matters which had been divisive in the past might be addressed from a fresh perspective with truth and love.

Since that meeting, the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion have entered into a process of fruitful dialogue, which has been marked by the discovery of significant elements of shared faith and a desire to give expression, through joint prayer, witness and service, to that which we hold in common. Over thirty-five years, the Anglican - Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) has produced a number of important documents which seek to articulate the faith we share. In the ten years since the most recent Common Declaration was signed by the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury, the second phase of ARCIC has completed its mandate, with the publication of the documents The Gift of Authority (1999) and Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ (2005). We are grateful to the theologians who have prayed and worked together in the preparation of these texts, which await further study and reflection.

True ecumenism goes beyond theological dialogue; it touches our spiritual lives and our common witness. As our dialogue has developed, many Catholics and Anglicans have found in each other a love for Christ which invites us into practical co-operation and service. This fellowship in the service of Christ, experienced by many of our communities around the world, adds a further impetus to our relationship. The International Anglican - Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) has been engaged in an exploration of the appropriate ways in which our shared mission to proclaim new life in Christ to the world can be advanced and nurtured. Their report, which sets out both a summary of the central conclusions of ARCIC and makes proposals for growing together in mission and witness, has recently been completed and submitted for review to the Anglican Communion Office and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and we express our gratitude for their work.

In this fraternal visit, we celebrate the good which has come from these four decades of dialogue. We are grateful to God for the gifts of grace which have accompanied them. At the same time, our long journey together makes it necessary to acknowledge publicly the challenge represented by new developments which, besides being divisive for Anglicans, present serious obstacles to our ecumenical progress. It is a matter of urgency, therefore, that in renewing our commitment to pursue the path towards full visible communion in the truth and love of Christ, we also commit ourselves in our continuing dialogue to address the important issues involved in the emerging ecclesiological and ethical factors making that journey more difficult and arduous.

As Christian leaders facing the challenges of the new millennium, we affirm again our public commitment to the revelation of divine life uniquely set forth by God in the divinity and humanity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. We believe that it is through Christ and the means of salvation found in him that healing and reconciliation are offered to us and to the world.

There are many areas of witness and service in which we can stand together, and which indeed call for closer co-operation between us: the pursuit of peace in the Holy Land and in other parts of the world marred by conflict and the threat of terrorism; promoting respect for life from conception until natural death; protecting the sanctity of marriage and the well-being of children in the context of healthy family life; outreach to the poor, oppressed and the most vulnerable, especially those who are persecuted for their faith; addressing the negative effects of materialism; and care for creation and for our environment. We also commit ourselves to inter-religious dialogue through which we can jointly reach out to our non-Christian brothers and sisters.

Mindful of our forty years of dialogue, and of the witness of the holy men and women common to our traditions, including Mary the Theotókos, Saints Peter and Paul, Benedict, Gregory the Great, and Augustine of Canterbury, we pledge ourselves to more fervent prayer and a more dedicated endeavour to welcome and live by that truth into which the Spirit of the Lord wishes to lead his disciples (cf. Jn 16:13). Confident of the apostolic hope "that he who has begun this good work in you will bring it to completion"(cf. Phil 1:6), we believe that if we can together be God's instruments in calling all Christians to a deeper obedience to our Lord, we will also draw closer to each other, finding in his will the fullness of unity and common life to which he invites us.


Anglican Delegation for the Papal Audience (in alphabetical order)

  • The Rt. Rev. David Beetge, Anglican Co-Chair of IARCCUMM
  • The Rev. Canon Gregory Cameron, director of Ecumenical Affairs for the Anglican Communion
  • Archbishop Peter Carnley, Anglican Co-Chair of ARCIC
  • The Rt. Rev. John Flack, Archbishop's Representative to the Holy See
  • The Rev. Canon Jonathan Goodall, Chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury
  • Tim Livesey, public affairs secretary to the Archbishop of Canterbury
  • The Rev. Canon Andrew Norman, secretary for International Ecumenical and Anglican Communion Affairs to the Archbishop of Canterbury


Note on Archbishop's gift to the Pope

The gift being presented by Williams is an icon which has been specially commissioned for the occasion. It is a panel icon of Christ the Saviour, Lord of the Universe, Head of his Body the Church, with standing figures of Pope St Gregory and St Augustine of Canterbury in prayer. Tempera on a gold ground and gesso on wood. Painted by Sergei Fyodorov in 2006. 66 cm x 46 cm

The composition of the icon is unique and shows the New Testament concept of the Church. Looking onto the icon as through a chancel arch into the altar, we see Christ the Saviour, Lord of the heavenly and earthly realms. By his death and resurrection, Christ has united in his risen body all who believe in him. The saintly forbears of the Pope and the Archbishop - both Benedictine monks - intercede for the Church on earth to Christ whose heavenly kingdom is close at hand. They signify the apostolic continuity of both churches through centuries of unity and, more recently, of disunity.

The icon has been painted in Moscow by Sergei Fyodoro, a young Russian iconographer, a pupil of Fr Zenon. His work features in several of the major churches of the Church of England, most notably at the Benedictine Foundation of Westminster Abbey.

The inscription on the reverse reads:

"Presented by Rowan, Archbishop of Canterbury to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI with fraternal love and esteem as a sign of my prayer for your apostolic ministry and of the shared goal of our two communions - the full visibility of the one holy Church on earth."