Thirty-six Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops are gathering at the Vatican for a meeting with Pope Francis, and Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop Justin Welby in which the bishops were commissioned to go out continue to grow their collaboration.
The bishops represent 19 different regions where Anglicans and Catholics live side by side in significant number. New Zealand was represented by Bishop Ross Bay, Anglican bishop of Auckland and Cardinal John Dew, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Wellington.
The purpose of the meeting, which is in two parts, first in Canterbury and then in Rome, is to discover new ways for Catholics and Anglicans can give greater witness to their common faith, and particularly how they can collaborate in mission to the world.
They will also spend time listening to the bishops’ own pastoral challenges.
“The Anglican and Roman Catholic communities around New Zealand, from bishops to priests, to diocesan staff to organisations to parishes and communities, we enjoy a supportive, affirming relationship akin to an extended family.” Said Cardinal John Dew, Archbishop of Wellington.
“The relationship we have is both liturgical and pastoral and extends to the work we do in civil society. We share our joys, sorrows and concerns for both our respective communities and wider society.” Said Bishop Ross Bay, Bishop of Auckland.
“This gathering is another historical and significant step in the relationship both at home in New Zealand and globally.” Bishop Bay said.
Pope Francis and The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby commissioned the 19 pairs of Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops from across the world to take part in united mission in their local areas.
The commissioning and sending out came in the setting of a Vespers service, led jointly by Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby, at the Church of Saint Gregory on the Caelian Hill in Rome.
The service was one of the highlights of an ecumenical summit organised by Iarccum to mark the 50th anniversary of the meeting between Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey in 1966 – the first such public meeting between a Pope and an Archbishop of Canterbury since the Reformation. The summit, which began at the weekend in Canterbury and is continuing in the Vatican, will also mark the 50th anniversary of the Anglican Centre in Rome.