Author Reflects on Anglican and Catholic Worlds

Affirms Desire for Christian Unity

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OTTAWA, Ontario, SEPT. 17, 2010 ( Benedict XVI’s U.K. visit has been significant for relations between the Catholic and Anglican Churches, says an author who stands between both worlds.

Today, the second day of the Pope’s four-day visit to the United Kingdom, included a meeting with the Anglican archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and an address to prelates from both Churches.

The Holy Father concluded the day by participating in an ecumenical celebration in Westminster Abbey along with the archbishop of Canterbury and other Christian leaders.

Deborah Gyapong, a member of the Traditional Anglican Communion, an independent communion which has asked to enter the Catholic Church, spoke with ZENIT about the significance of these events for ecumenical relations.
Gyapong, a journalist and author, affirmed that the Catholic Church and the Anglican Church «have many projects in common, especially in efforts to help the poor.»

«These will continue as will the good relationships that have built up over the years,» she said.

Gyapong spoke about the apostolic constitution «Anglicanorum Coetibus,» which allows for groups like hers to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church while retaining some of their Anglican traditions in particular ordinariates.

When «Anglicanorum Coetibus» was announced in October 2009, she said, «there were some that called it ‘poaching’ and likened Pope Benedict’s move to putting ‘tanks on the lawn’ of the archbishop of Canterbury.»

«But as the Pope and others in the Roman Curia have insisted,» the author added, «the offer was a response to repeated requests, not only from us, but from other Anglican groups, such as Forward in Faith, and others, including many individuals.»

She noted that it «could be a way of gathering up all those Anglicans who come to see the need for the ministry of Peter, yet who hope to retain a beautiful Anglican liturgy and other aspects of our patrimony.»

Ongoing relations

«The apostolic constitution was not meant to detract from ongoing ecumenical relations with the Anglican Church of Canterbury, which represents millions of people around the globe,» Gyapong clarified.

She noted that there has been a «desire for unity» for many decades, explaining that «since the 1960s, there were huge hopes under Pope Paul VI and Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsay that there could be a healing of the rift so that the ‘sister churches’ could be ‘united but not absorbed.'»

The author explained that the Traditional Anglican Communion in particular «has come to see that the ministry of the Pope, the ministry of Peter, is essential, not only as a sign of Christian unity, but a needed juridical authority to ensure that the faith as received from the eyewitnesses of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is passed down intact from generation to generation.»

She said, «Our bishops signed the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the altar Oct. 5, 2007 in St. Agatha’s Church in Portsmouth, England, signifying, that ‘we accept that the most complete and authentic expression and application of the catholic faith in this moment of time is found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its Compendium, which we have signed together with this letter as attesting to the faith we aspire to teach and hold.'»

«As a lay person, a journalist and non-theologian,» Gyapong noted, «I make no claims to know everything that is in the [catechism], nor that I would understand everything in it.»

«But I have come to see that I can no longer be a little pope in my own mind, choosing and deciding for myself which doctrines I will believe and which I will discard,» she added. «So, I choose to come under the authority of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church for what I believe.»

The author affirmed that «having an apostolic faith is crucial to our finding freedom in Christ and the freedom to live as we ought to live.»
«Many Anglicans are in a difficult discernment process right now,» Gyapong affirmed, «some adopting a ‘wait and see’ attitude to see whether they really will be able to retain their Anglican identity while being full-members of the Roman Catholic Church.»

She continued: «But I believe the first ordinariates will be like mustard seeds that will blossom and grow and become increasingly attractive not only to Anglicans but to all Christians who find a beautiful liturgy prayed with meaning helps the whole congregation enter into the mystery of the once-and-for-all Sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

«The Ordinariates will be part of the liturgical renewal the Holy Father hopes for — but the beautiful liturgy will also be married to a full-hearted embrace of the Catholic faith, with teaching from the catechism by priests and bishops who believe what it says, without having their fingers crossed behind their backs, or reducing the supernatural Word of God to a metaphor.»

[With the contribution of Serena Sartini]
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