At the conclusion of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) summit, Anglican and Catholic Bishops emphasize the fruitful ecumenical journey towards reconciliation, thereby expressing their desire to work toward Christian unity while addressing global challenges.
“Our Common Witness, Calling, and Commitment”, is the title of a press release by the bishops, released on February 1, after participating in the ecumenical summit entitled”Growing Together”.
In the text, the Anglican and Catholic bishops express a resolute call for unity and a shared mission. Their declaration follows a week-long gathering from January 22-29, where the bishops convened in Rome and Canterbury to discuss joint mission and witness.
The summit, organised by the IARCCUM, drew support from the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity in Rome and the Anglican Communion Office, Secretariat to the Anglican Communion.
The bishops, who attended the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, represented 27 countries globally, and were commissioned by Pope Francis, and the Archbishop of Canterbury during Vespers at the basilica of Saint Paul outside the Walls in Rome.
“After four centuries of conflict and separation, the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion have now been on a walk towards reconciliation for almost six decades. At times, the path has been bumpy, but the Holy Spirit has been at work and our churches have persevered in a dialogue which has been extraordinarily fruitful,” per the statement.
The bishops recognize the joy and life found in their communion in Christ, emphasizing its deep and profound nature. They committed to building on the fruitful dialogue, bridging the gap between shared faith elements and their tangible expression in ecclesial lives.
In the four areas of Witness, Friendship, Mission, and Synodality, the IARCCUM bishops urge the Church to prioritize relationships. They went on to echo Pope Francis’s call to put “first our brothers and sisters, then the structures.”
“Synodality is not merely about the Church’s governance; it is about putting relationships at the centre of the Church’s life,” the statement stressed, referencing the words of the Pope during their commissioning at St Paul’s, outside the Walls in Rome: “First our brothers and sisters, then the structures.”
Addressing the urgent climate crisis, the bishops also stressed the need to care for our common home, echoing the Holy Father’s Encyclical on the Environment (Laudato si’), and the Lambeth Call on the Environment and Sustainable Development issued by Anglican bishops during the 2022 Lambeth Conference.
They conclude the statement with a commitment to proclaim the Good News of peace in places affected by ongoing wars. As they return to their local churches, the bishops pray that their ministry alongside one another as Catholics and Anglicans will be a foretaste of the reconciliation of all Christians in the unity of the one and only Church of Christ.