Page 5, 18th December 1981

18th December 1981
Page 5
Page 5, 18th December 1981 — "Far too many Catholics in England and Wales are hostile to the search for unity"

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Locations: Rome, Canterbury


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"Far too many Catholics in England and Wales are hostile to the search for unity"

by Bishop John R. H. Moorman

Member of the Joint International Commission of the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. BISHOP JOHN MOORMAN and 1 have been asked to write companion articles about relationships between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church. In the event, he is using his knowledge as a member of the International Commission to expound the teaching of the ARCIC Agreed Statements; 1, as a former parish priest and present Secretary of the Ecumenical Commission, am more concerned with the response to A RCIC's work which we must make in our parishes and other places where Anglicans and Roman Catholic meet locally.

For without local work and, increasingly, local collaboration the work of the theologians will run into the sand. But given such collaboration, we could be entering on a new and hopeful stage in the life of our two churches For full unity is what we are talking about. The first beginnings of better relations between our churches were made when Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher of Canterbury visited Pope John XXIII in Rome in 1960. In 1966, came a longer. more businesslike meeting between their successors. Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey of Canterbury; Pope and Archbishop pledged themselves to work for the full unity of the two churches. Not friendship or good relations or practical cooperation — but complete unity.

On this we must pause. Seventeen years after the publication of the Vatican Council's Decreeon Ecumenism, there are still far too many Catholics in England and Wales (and, to be fair. many people in other churches as well) who are either hostile to the search for unity or who regard it as a fringe activity low down on the list of our priorities; worst of all, there are some who still regard ecumenical dialogue as little more than a polite name for among us unconditional surrender on the part of all nonRoman Catholics. The irony of all this is that those who speak and write in this way are often those who pride themselves most on their loyalty to the Church Yet it was a pope, Paul VI, who in 1970 referred to the Anglican Communion as a 'sister church'; it was the present Holy Father who spoke in an address to the members of ARCIC in September 1980 of 'A common treasure, which we must recover and in the fulness of which we must share. not -losing certain characteristic qualities and gifts which have been ours even in our divided state'.

The theologians have done the work entrusted to them by the highest authority in the two churches; it is now up to the test of us to make that work our own.

Our aim, I believe. must be nothing less than a state of affiairs in which every Roman Catholic parish in England and Wales is in touch with its neighbouring Anglican parish to arrange for their clergy and people to discuss the ARCIC statements. It can be done; it has been done in many places. including one place of which I can speak from my own knowledge. I have been fortunate enough, as a parish priest, to take part in fruitful conversations in which parishioners, Anglican and Catholic, adopted the methods of ARCIC itself and went round the table stating their own faith on the Ministry and the Eucharist. It was fruitful just because people. some of them for the first time in their lives, got behind the jargon words in which they had been brought up and simply stated their beliefs — with a great measure of agreement.

Unfortunately, we are often more ingenious at finding excuses for not doing something than we are at finding ways of achieving it. It is the time of the Pope's visit, we will ber told: but what better preparation, what better followup, can there be than the study of the ARCIC statements on authority, which have so much to tell us about the papacy itself.

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