Faith seeking understanding

Seeking to heal the pain of separation

This year, as well as commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, Mark Lindsay urges us to celebrate the work that goes on behind the scenes to break down the walls of division between Anglicans and Roman Catholics

By Mark Lindsay

July 7 2017Throughout the Christian world this year, we remember the (purported) beginnings of the Reformation in 1517. (Let’s leave aside the inconvenient facts that reform movements within the Roman Church had been active for at least 200 years before Martin Luther is supposed to have nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Schloßkirche, that the nailing of the Theses itself is historically dubious, and that there was not one Reformation but many!) But as we do remember the Reformation this year, we cannot help but reflect, not only upon the breach between the Roman and Protestant traditions and the recurrence of sectarian violence that that breach has for so long engendered, but also upon the more recent and happy history of rapprochement, or at least, détente.

Preliminary signs of bridge-building were visible in 1964 when, as part of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI promulgated the Decree on Ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio. Actions built on words three years later when the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, established ARCIC - the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission.

A full 50 years on, a demonstration and celebration of precisely this ongoing work of reconciliation was on show recently at the Trinity College Theological School. The School, which has long been committed to the forging of close ecumenical connections, and to the maintenance and enlivening of its catholic Anglican heritage, was delighted to host on 31 May a series of events to commemorate the 50th anniversary of ARCIC’s inception, and the Australian launch of the final report of its second phase, Looking Towards a Church Fully Reconciled.

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