Celebrating Catholic ecumenism

WYEC seminarThe great and the good came together in Leeds on 11 November to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Unitatis Redintegratio, Vatican II's Decree on Ecumenism.

An afternoon seminar, hosted by the Rt Revd Tony Robinson, Bishop of Pontefract and Chair of the West Yorkshire Ecumenical Council, heard five significant speakers:

  • David Cornick, CTE's General Secretary, put the document in its historical context.
  • Paul Murray, a member of ARCIC III and editor of Receptive Ecumenism and the Call to Catholic Learning, reminded his audence that continuity and change in the Church go together and spoke about the importance of Receptive Ecumenism, the ecumenism of wounded hands.
  • Cally HammondDean of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, drawing on her personal experience, stressed the importance of trusting God's providence in the ecumenical journey. (Cally is pictured with Paul Murray in the centre and David Moxon on the right.)
  • Ken Howcroft, President of the Methodist Conference 2014-2015 and former Methodist Representative to the Holy See, compared the Vatican II document on the Church, Lumen Gentium with Unitatis Redintegratio. He also challenged the audience to read Unitatis Redintegratio through a mirror, as it were, swopping around 'Roman Catholic Church' with the name of their own denomination and then to notice how they felt then about the document.
  • Responding to the speakers, Co-Chair of ARCIC, the Most Revd Sir David Moxon, the Archbishop of Canterbury's representative to the Holy See and Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, said he had three images in his mind. First, God walks in long strides, perhaps a decade. We need to measure ecumenical progress in decades and then we will be better able to see clearly how much things have changed. Secondly, Christian unity is like a aeroplane. When it takes off there is a lot of noise and experience of power but when it is airbourne, it is much quieter and it feels still and suspended, as if not much is happening. Yet it is moving fast and with power -- and there is no reverse gear! Thirdly, using the image of a flotilla of yaughts, he stressed that no one Church has it all together, but together we can have it all.

Following the seminar, the audience joined the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales and many others for a service of Ecumenical Vespers at St Anne's Cathedral, Leeds, at 5.30pm. The preacher was David Moxon (see above) who spoke movingly about how ecumenism in New Zealand was inspired by the witness of the Martyrs of Papua New Guinea. He said that in New Zealand Catholics and Anglicans came together for Ash Wednesday services and now could not imagine celebrating Ash Wednesday separately.

Papers and photos from the seminar and vespers can be downloaded from the West Yorkshire Ecumenical Council.

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