NEARLY 60 representatives from Anglican and Roman Catholic religious communities from all parts of the world today reached the half-way mark in an important conference at Downside Abbey. near Bath. They have been
meeting since Monday to discuss "The Religious Life in the world of today".
Downside Abbey is one of the main religious centres f o r Church Unity in the world. It was especially set aside at the conference of Abbots in Rome in 1959 to "interest" itself in the work for Christian re-union, Every Anglican religious community, with the exception of only one which is strictly enclosed, is represented at the conference. There a r e also representatives from most of the Catholic monasteries in England, and from France, Italy and America.
UNDER 40s The conference was opened on Monday by the Abbot of Downside, Dom Christopher Butler, who gave a brief talk. Then letters of approval from Cardinal Bea, President of the Secretariat for promoting Christian Unity, and Archbishop Ramsey of Canterbury were read to the participants.
All those taking part in the conference are under 40 years of age. In all nine papers are being read and each is followed by a discussion.
Courtesy visits have been paid both by the Bishops of Bath and Wells, Bishop Rudderham of Clifton, the Abbot of Nashdom, and the Superior General of the Society of St. John the Evangelist.
o m Cuthbert McCann, O.S.B., one of the conference organisers, told the CATHOLIC HERALD this week that he considered it of the utmost importance that young religious. who will later meet at major international and interdenominational conference tables, should live together and exchange views early on in their careers. "After all, the views of the young are the views of the future", he added.
"It is the first time that such a gathering has been held in this or any other country. A very few years ago it would have been quite unthinkable.
A GOOD START
"Ever since 1959 we have been seeking practical ways of working for Christian unity. This is our most corporate activity so far and is a very good start."
He said that there were no detailed plans for the future but he hoped that the next conference might be held in an Anglican monastery.
The senior Anglican Chaplain to London University, Prebendary Gordon Philips, who was largely responsible for this week's conference, said that one of its chief advantages was in the fact that those taking part were meeting on common ground.
"They are all genuinely concerned with and committed to the religious life. It is important that Anglicans and Catholics should meet on common ground which they actually experience and understand. Other things can develop quite easily from there".
Prebendery Philips is a member of the Commission set up by Archbishop Ramsey to promote a friendly and intelligent relationship between Catholics and Anglicans.