The Path of Ecumenism, As Seen by an Anglican

Richard Garrard, Director of a Center in Rome

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ROME, JAN. 23, 2003 ( Anglicans and Roman Catholics can find common ground, even when their theologies differ, says the director of the Anglican Center here.

Richard Garrard recently spoke with ZENIT about outlook for ecumenism between the two faiths.

Q: Is the Anglican-Catholic Dialogue alive?

Garrard: I think that the ecumenical dialogue between Anglicans and Roman Catholics is alive and well and progressing slowly in the right direction.

When one considers the centuries that the disunity has lasted and the bitterness that use to exist, the progress over 30 or so years is very encouraging.

We are, at present, in a period of time when little seems to be happening, but in fact a great deal is taking place. The existence of the second international commission on Unity and Mission is most heartening, even if it is too early for there to be many results from it as yet. It is only just over 1 year old.

Q: Are Anglicans opened to ecumenism?

Garrard: The Anglican Communion is fully committed to the search for unity. We are in discussions and in various stages of full or partial communion with very many Christian communities of all kinds.

The search for unity is one which the lay members of the Anglican Communion watch closely and frequently urge greater speed on those leading contacts and discussions.

Q: Is Rome an open city, in terms of ecumenism?

Garrard: Yes: but the degrees of openness vary a great deal.

Q: Which are the common goals to work together in Rome with other Christian confessions?

Garrard: I have already noted the International Anglican/Roman Catholic Commission on Unity and Mission. … This body has a wonderful opportunity to survey what we can do in common and then help people find ways in which to do it. This makes the most of the unity that we have already found.

The Anglicans and Roman Catholics can and do collaborate over matters of social concern, even if their moral theologies differ at times.

I believe that peace and justice is a most important area since it harnesses the compassion of all Christians who not only do good work together but find themselves drawn into deeper unity as a result. It is not possible for me to go into all the joint projects, there are simply too many to list throughout the world.

Q: Has something changed in relation to non-Anglican Christians since the arrival of the new archbishop of Canterbury, His Grace Rowan Williams?

Garrard: We must wait and see. Archbishop Rowan will inevitably bring his own outlook to bear on the total church. He has already won the respect and affection of many by his work and his personal qualities over many years before coming to his present task as archbishop of Canterbury.

He has sown that he can makes good links with Christians of other traditions and also with people of other faiths. He will be able to continue and develop excellent done work by his predecessor Lord Carey.

Q: What is the Anglican Center?

Garrard: The center [] was founded, with the encouragement of both Archbishop Michael Ramsey and Pope Paul VI, on the wave of ecumenical enthusiasm engendered by the Second Vatican Council.

The archbishop and the Pope realized that official statements were not enough and that the «special relationship» between Anglicans and Roman Catholics could not flourish unless people really knew each other, and could talk face to face about what they had in common and what separated them. Without that, true understanding would not deepen, and progress would not be made.

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