Fr Stephen Smuts

Posts Tagged ‘Unity

Anglican and Oriental Orthodox Churches Reach Historic Agreements

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A new publication containing the Agreed Statement on Christology of the Anglican–Oriental Orthodox International Commission 2014 was launched during Vespers in St Asaph Cathedral by the Co–Chairs of the commission, the Rt Revd Gregory K Cameron Bishop of St Asaph, and His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy of Damietta, in the presence of the Rt Revd Dr Geoffrey Rowell, former Co–Chair of the Commission and co–signatory to the Statement.

The Commission completed its work on the Procession of the Holy Spirit, agreeing on the omission of the Filioque clause that had been appended to the Niceno–Constantinopolitan Creed in the Latin Western tradition. The Co–Chairs signed an Agreed Statement on the procession of the Holy Spirit, which is Part A of our ongoing work on our theological understanding of the Holy Spirit. A detailed discussion of the action of the Holy Spirit in the Church followed, including a discussion of the four marks of the Church, namely: oneness, holiness, catholicity and apostolicity. The Commission has designated a drafting group which prepared a preliminary draft and will continue to work on Part B of our theological understanding of the Holy Spirit.

The Commission discussed the present situation of Christians in the Middle East and heard reports on the difficulties facing Churches, particularly in Syria and Iraq. There was a consideration of the most practical ways in which the Anglican Communion in its various countries could respond effectively to the refugee crisis in the Middle East and Europe.

Read it all here.

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

October 10, 2015 at 16:01

Why The Anglican Communion Is Already Divorced

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RNS has the article.

Archbishop Justin Welby with Archbishop Eliud Wabukala during Welby's recent visit to Nairobi. RNS photo by Fredrick Nzwili

Is the Anglican Communion about to split over different views of sexual ethics?

You might think so after reading headlines about the archbishop of Canterbury’s proposal to “loosen” the structures of the Communion — a way of retaining his relationship to the liberal wing of the Western churches as well as the traditional Anglicans of the Global South.

But to interpret the archbishop’s recent announcement as a split over sexuality is to miss the bigger picture. First, the impending dissolution of Anglicanism as it currently exists institutionally is over much more than sex. Second, the divorce has already taken place, just not formally…

Read on here.

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

September 23, 2015 at 16:32

Gardening for Christian Unity

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In the heart of Rome:


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

August 5, 2014 at 15:30

Pope Begins Promoting Christian Unity

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Patriarch Bartholomew I (L) and Pope Francis in 2013

Theology and Society:

Enzo Bianchi — appointed on July 22 as consultor of the Pontificial Council for Promoting Christian Unity — said the Pope could allow a council of bishops, including Greek Orthodox bishops, to assist in governing the Church, the Catholic News website reports today (August 3, 2014).

Reform of the Synod of Bishops and the growth of synodality within the Catholic Church would greatly enhance the opportunity for union between Rome and the Orthodox churches by making the papacy less “monarchical” and the Catholic Church less centralized.

Bianchi — Prior of the Bose monastery in northeast Italy — said: “I believe that the pope wants to achieve unity by reforming the papacy.”

Pope Francis feels that union with the Orthodox Churches in particular is “an urgent goal,” Bianchi emphasized. “I believe that the Pope has one particular concern, that unity should not be achieved in the spirituality of unity but rather is a command by Christ which we must carry out,” he told the Italian daily “La Stampa.”

Reform would involve a new balance between collegiality and primacy, Bianchi explained. “The Orthodox have synodality, but not primacy. We Catholics have primacy but a lack of synodality.”

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

August 4, 2014 at 16:22

Up to 1 in 10 Roman Catholic Priests Are Former Anglicans (UK)

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The Tablet:

Up to one in 10 Catholic priests are former Church of England clergy, according to new figures.

Professor Linda Woodhead, a sociologist of religion at Lancaster University and organiser of the Westminster Faith Debates, worked with the Catholic bishops’ vocations director Fr Christopher Jamison OSB to establish that 389 Catholic priests are former Anglican priests, including 87 priests in the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingam.

Currently it is estimated that in England and Wales there are 3,000 active diocesan priests, 800 retired priests, 1,000 religious priests and 700 deacons. Most of the Anglicans are believed to be working in parishes or chaplaincies.

Professor Woodhead told The Tablet that the Church of England clergy represented in these figures began to leave their original Church from 1994, when the first women were ordained priests. Those who left between 1994 and 2004 were provided with financial compensation amounting to 100 per cent of their stipend in year one, three-quarters in year two and two-thirds in year three. The payments amounted to £27.4 million over a decade.

She wanted to establish the veracity of reports that 400-500 priests and thousands of lay faithful had decided to join the Catholic Church, with many now serving as priests, including hundreds who are married.

She estimates that about 250 clergy “went across” between 1994 and 2000, with a further 52 from 2001, and then the Ordinariate clergy on top of that.

Professor Woodhead pointed out that the Catholic Church made the biggest gain from the moves given that there are 18,000 Anglican clergy compared with around 4,000 Catholic priests.

“So a relatively small loss of clergy numbers for the Church of England represents a very significant gift for the Catholic Church in England and Wales at a time of falling ordinations,” she said.

Meanwhile, Mgr Keith Newton, the Ordinary, said in a homily at Portsmouth Cathedral that people sometimes asked members of the Ordinariate why they couldn’t become “proper Catholics.”

He said: “What they mean is, why can’t you just be absorbed into the wider Catholic Church so that what you bring disappears like sugar dissolved in water,” stressing that Christian unity was not about uniformity.

In September there will be events held by Ordinariate groups across the country to promote better understanding of the structure, set up to allow Anglicans to become Catholics while retaining elements of their identity.



Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

August 3, 2014 at 22:54

Anglicans Joining Ordinariate Are Like ‘Hobbits In Search of Treasure’

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Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (CNS)

So say the Ordinary, Msgr Keith Newton:

Anglicans joining the Ordinariate are like Bilbo Baggins and the other hobbits going in search of treasure, Mgr Keith Newton said on Sunday.

Speaking in Portsmouth Cathedral, the Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham began his homily by mentioning The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien, which he described as “one of (his) favourite children’s books… the exiting story of a hobbit together with a band of dwarves searching for dragon guarded gold,” before adding that the true treasure is to be found in Christ and the Kingdom of Heaven.

“To discover Christ and his kingdom is more of a lifelong treasure hunt,” he said. “We need God’s grace to do this because it needs courage to make sacrifices and to take risks for Christ if we try to faithfully seek his kingdom and his righteousness. It is part of making choices in seeking of the kingdom that has led some former Anglicans to enter full communion of the Catholic Church through the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.”

He said that people sometimes asked members of the Ordinariate why they couldn’t become “proper Catholics”. “What they mean”, he said, is “why can’t you just be absorbed into the wider Catholic Church so that what you bring disappears like sugar dissolved in water”. But, he added, “Christian Unity is not about Christian uniformity”.

“It is about exploring the possibility of sharing a common faith in communion with the successor of Peter and yet having different liturgical, devotional and pastoral practices which enrich the wider Church. When Catholics and Anglicans first began talking about unity they used the phrase of being ‘united but not absorbed’. In the Ordinariate that idea has been put into practice – the possibility of Unity of Faith and diversity of expression,” Mgr Newton said.

“Pope Benedict encouraged us not to leave our history behind but to take it into the Catholic Church and to share some of the distinctive aspects of Anglicanism which are consistent with the Catholic Faith.” The Ordinariate Mass has elements taken from the Book of Common Prayer – “a treasure to be shared.”

An Ordinariate “exploration day” event in Portsmouth is just one of 40 different events being held on September 6 by Ordinariate groups across the country, to help people to understand the Ordinariate better. Pope Francis last week sent his good wishes, saying he is praying for the success of the day.

For the full text Mgr Newton’s homily go here.

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

July 29, 2014 at 18:35

Archbishop Welby’s Unity Plea to Pope Francis Over Women Bishops

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The Archbishop of Canterbury has written to Pope Francis in a plea to prevent the ordination of women bishops from derailing plans for the eventual reunification between the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches…

June 2013: Pope Francis meets Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby at the Vatican

Archbishop of Canterbury insists differences over women bishops should not halt moves to Anglican-Roman Catholic unity saying: ‘We need each other’ …

The Telegraph has the rest.


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

July 28, 2014 at 15:47


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