Anglican, Catholic leaders in England dialogue

Catholic and Anglican leaders in England have expressed their ongoing commitment to dialogue after meeting for their biennial conference last week.
The Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Rev Bernard Longley said the meeting in Leicester, held over January 16 and 17, ‘highlighted how very far we have come in our fraternal discussions in the past 50 years’.
‘We have a strong bond, we are dealing with the same problems which we must continue to tackle in our different ways and support each other in our love for Christ and His flock,’ he said.
‘This meeting has been frank and realistic. I am both encouraged and strengthened by this sincere dialogue and our friendship as brothers and sisters in Christ. We journey onwards in hope – we have so much in common – in this drama of redemption.’
In total, 27 Anglican bishops and 27 Catholic bishops attended the conference to pray and reflect together on areas of disagreement as well as opportunities for collaboration at a regional and national level.
Those in attendance included the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, and the leader of the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby.
The delegates also spent some time reflecting on Walking Together On The Way, the most recent document to have been issued by the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) last July.
Walking Together On the Way was underpinned by the idea of ‘receptive learning’ in which the two Churches acknowledge the presence of the Holy Spirit in the other and recognise areas of mutual learning.
ARCIC members Dr Paula Gooder and Professor Paul Murray led the bishops in the time of reflection during which they considered the life of their global communions and the differences and similiarities between the Church structures.
In addition to ongoing Anglican-Catholic dialogue, the two Churches discussed matters of importance to the nation, including the UK’s relationship with the EU which has been made uncertain by Brexit.
Dr Helen-Ann Hartley, Bishop of Ripon, welcomed the opportunity to meet with Catholic leaders: ‘This 24 hour period has been a highly stimulating and honest time of sharing: prayer, fellowship, laughter and mutual support.
‘I would like to think that the body of Christ has been enriched by this time and look forward to other opportunities to engage together.’
The meeting ended the day before Christians around the world kicked off the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity on January 18, which this year takes as its inspiration Deuteronomy 16:18-20, ‘Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue…’

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