Strengthening the bonds of affection and seeking together to witness to the Gospel

Archbishop David Moxon has described the Roman Catholic response to the Church of England’s General Synod’s vote in favour of the ordination of women to the episcopate as “gracious, honest and constructive. There is the acknowledgement that this decision in the Anglican Communion represents an obstacle to organic union, but also that this decision will not stop the ongoing ecumenical quest, cooperation and friendship that we value so much.”

The Roman Catholic Church’s commitment to dialogue with the Church of England has been reiterated by Archbishop Bernard Longley, who not only is Chairman of the Department for Dialogue and Unity of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, but also – with Archbishop Moxon – co-Chairman of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC III). “For the Catholic Church, the goal of ecumenical dialogue continues to be full visible ecclesial communion.  Such full ecclesial communion embraces full communion in the episcopal office. The decision of the Church of England to admit women to the episcopate therefore sadly places a further obstacle on the path to this unity between us. Nevertheless we are committed to continuing our ecumenical dialogue, seeking deeper mutual understanding and practical cooperation wherever possible."

Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has written to ecumenical partners stressing the importance of friendship and understanding, and calling for continuing collaboration: “It is clear to me that whilst our theological dialogue will face new challenges, there is nonetheless so much troubling our world today that our common witness to the Gospel is of more importance than ever. There is conflict in many regions of our world, acute poverty, unemployment and an influx of oppressed people driven away from their own countries and seeking refuge elsewhere. We need each other…”

Father Anthony Currer, the staff person for relations with Anglicans at the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, describes the Church of England’s vote to allow women bishops “is not creating a new reality for dialogue” between Anglican and Roman Catholic faiths, with other provinces of the Anglican Communion already having women bishops. But he calls it a “significant” move by the Church of England — the mother church of the communion — which is a point of reference for Anglicans worldwide.  “With Anglicans we have communion, which we describe as impaired or impartial. An area we have to explore with our dialogue partners is what is sufficient for the full communion we are seeking.”


Archbishop Welby's Letter to Ecumenical Partners

Archbishop Longley's Statement