Bishop Michael Gielen and Anglican Bishop Ross Bay in Rome and Canterbury for international dialogue

Bishop of Christchurch Michael Gielen says it is a great privilege to be representing New Zealand’s Catholic bishops at a major Anglican-Roman Catholic gathering underway in Rome this week and then moving to Canterbury.

Bishop Gielen, along with the Anglican Bishop of Auckland, Ross Bay, are representing New Zealand at the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) conference.

The gathering is called Growing Together. More than 50 bishops, in pairs of Catholics and Anglicans representing 27 regions of the world, are taking part in the first such event since 2016. IARCCUM aims to foster closer co-operation between the Anglican and Roman Catholic traditions and to put into practice progress made in theological conversations.

Visiting holy sites, the bishops have been praying together, reflecting and learning from one another. There is an aspiration to discuss ways of growing together in joint witness and mission in the world.

Bishop Gielen said he has been inspired by the rich history of IARCCUM during the gathering.

“It has been a deep privilege to join with fellow bishops of our respective churches from around the world, hearing their stories and, in many cases, their profound challenges, while continuing to celebrate the Good News of Jesus Christ we share,” Bishop Gielen said.

Bishop Bay attended the last IARRCUM summit in 2016. He said walking alongside Bishop Gielen, with whom he serves as a co-chair of the local New Zealand Anglican-Catholic dialogue, has opened up opportunities.

“As a result of being together here I hope that we will grow in our commitment to express our unity in more tangible ways through our common mission,” said Bishop Bay.

Among the highlights of the gathering will be a liturgy for the participating bishops with Pope Francis and with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

On Thursday 25 January (Rome time), at the tomb of St Paul in Rome, Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby will commission the bishops “in pairs, to be witnesses to Christian unity”, before the bishops move to Canterbury from January 26 to 29 to discuss the future work of IARCCUM.

  • Pictured: Bishop Michael Gielen (left) and Bishop Ross Bay at the Vatican.