THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
Just before we went to press the first meeting of the Joint Preparatory Commission for dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion was concluded at Gazzada, Varese, in the north of Italy.
The Joint Preparatory Commission met at the conference centre at the Villa Cagnola; Gazzada near Milan from 9-13 January 1967. Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey, following their meeting in Rome on 23/24 March 1966, affirmed:
"Their desire that all those Christians who belong to these two Communions may be animated by these same sentiments of respect esteem and fraternal love, and in order to help these develop to the full, they intend to inaugurate between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion a serious dialogue which, founded on the gospels and on the ancient common traditions, may lead to that unity in truth, for which Christ prayed".
The Villa Cagnola, given by the late Count Cagnola to the R.C.C., is a serene place, its eighteenth century grace and artistic treasures completed by an efficient modern residential quarter. In the bracing air, with a splendid view of the Alps dominated by the majesty of Monte Rosa, an excellent discussion, keen and friendly, developed. What impressed everybody was the strong sense of purpose and urgency that was felt.
The agreed statement to the pres began with this sentence: "After 400 years of separation between the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches, official representatives from both have taken the first step towards restoring full unity".
Sense of Urgency
These words were very deliberately discussed and chosen. Indeed the Commission felt, and gave voice to some frustration at being unable at that point to express more adequately to waiting Christians at large the dynamic quality which was so strongly felt in the meeting.
This was no leisurely indulgence of the pleasures of learned discussion. The Bishop of Ripon set the tone by putting squarely as the first of his reasons why dialogue begins now: "We have gone on with our divisions long enough". At no moment subsequently was there a hint of disagreement with this, thought the tension was felt between this drive towards achievement and the need to explore differences calmly and thoroughly. Perhaps the most striking suggestion for resolving the tension was that both Churches should combine to make it possible for two research fellows or scholars of note to spend a sabbatical half-year on a thorough investigation of the issues agreed on as fundamental.
A decidedly improved plan for the next meeting, foreseen for the summer in England, was that carefully planned papers on seven chief theological issues will be completed well in advance and distributed to the participants, with one of them charged to lead of the discussion. The general pattern of the dialogue should then clearly emerge.
The other outstanding achievement of the Gazzada meeting was a set of practical recommendations devised by a sub-committee under the Anglican Bishop of Llandaff and very thoroughly sifted and shaped by the full commission - to be submitted to the respective Church authorities. These add up to a vigorous re-shaping and furthering of existing practices of collaboration and discussion between Anglicans and Roman Catholics. Their full adoption would put us forward several decades at a blow.
The sub-committee on practical issues (under Bishop Simons's chairmanship) made as a separate recommendation and a manner of urgency the seeking up of a mixed commission on the theology of marriage and its relation to the problem of mixed marriages.
It remains to draw mention to some general features of the meeting which impressed all present. Each delegation celebrated its own eucharist each morning. On January 11 the Anglican members followed this with attendance at a concelebrated mass sung was by the Catholic delegation. On January 12 the Roman Catholics similarly proceeded from their concelebrated mass to amend the eucharist in the chapel placed at the disposal of the Anglicans. A homily preached each morning.
In addition, at the end of each days work the whole commission met for an act of common worship which consisted of hymns familiar in both churches, psalms, the Creed and Our Father, silent prayer, and extempore prayer with a blessing by the bishop asked to lead. These arrangements only partially reflected the atmosphere of prayer which was one of the main features of a very happy and sincere encounter.
The following participated in the discussions:
The Bishop of Ripon (The Right Revd. J. R. H. Moorman), Senior Anglican Observer at the Second Vatican Council, member of the Archbishop of Canterbury's Commission on Roman Catholic Relations, Chairman of the Anglican delegates.
The Revd. Canon James Atkinson, Lecturer in Theology, Hull University.
The Revd Canon Eric Kemp, Lecturer in Theology and Medieval History.
The Revd. Prof. Howard Root, Professor in Theology, Southampton University.
The Bishop of Llandaff, (The Right Revd. W. G. H. Simon), Former Warden St, Michael's College, Llandaff.
The Revd. Dr. Massey H. Shepherd, Jr, Church Divinity School of the Pacific, California, Professor of Liturgics.
The Revd. Professor Eugene J. Fairweather, Professor in Dogmatic Theology, Trinity College, Toronto.
The Bishop of Colombo (The Right Revd. C. H. W. de Soysa), Formerly Principal of the Divinity School, Colombo, Ceylon.
The Bishop of Pretoria (The Right Revd. E. G. Knapp-Fisher), Formerly Principal of Cuddesdon Theological College; Transvaal, South Africa
The Revd. Canon John Findlow, Archbishop of Canterbury's representative at the Vatican, Associate Secretary of the Archbishop of Canterbury's Commission on Roman Catholic Relations, Rome. (A Secretary to the Commission).
The Revd. Canon John R. Satterthwaite, General Secretary of the Church of England Council of Foreign Relations, and the Archbishop of Canterbury's Commission on Roman Catholic Relations, London. (A Secretary to the Communion).
Most Revd J. G. M. Willebrands, tit. Bishop of Mauriana, Secretary of the Secretariat for Christian Unity, Vatican City.
Most Revd. Charles Helmsing, Bishop of Kansas-City-St. Joseph, Chairman of the U. S. Catholic Bishop's Commission for relations with the Protestant Episcopal Church.
Most Revd. William Z. Gomes, tit. Bishop of Porlais, auxiliary to the Archbishop of Bombay and co-chairman of the ecumenical commission of the Catholic Episcopal Conference of India.
Right Revd. Langton D. Fox, tit. Bishop of Maura, auxiliary to the Bishop of Menevia, England.
Revd. Louis Bouyer, of the Oratory. French ecumenist, author of many books on ecumenical and liturgical themes, University of Notre Dame, U.S.A.
Revd. George Tavard, AA, Professor and head of the department of theology at Mount Mercy College, Pittsburgh.
Member of the Catholic Bishop's Commission for relations with the Protestant Episcopal Church of U.S.A., author of several works on ecumenical themes.
Revd. Michael Richards, Professor of theology at St. Edmund's College, England Editor of "the Clergy Review".
Revd. John Keating. CSP, Secretary of the English section of the Canadian Catholic Bishop's Commission on Ecumenism.
Rev. Adrian Hastings, Professor at Kipalapla Seminary, Tabora, Tanzania, and in charge of further education for the East African clergy. Author of several ecclesiastical works.
Revd. William A. Purdy, Staff member of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, Vatican City. (A Secretary to the commission).