OCEANIA/AUSTRALIA - Catholic and Anglican dioceses make history with ecumenical pact

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Broken Bay (Agenzia Fides) - Forget the divisions of the past and build a future of cooperation and collaboration in a spirit of genuine fraternity, charity and solidarity: in this spirit three dioceses in Australian recently signed a history making ecumenical agreement which will give Christians of different confessions new opportunities for sharing, discussion and study. The dioceses involved were the Anglican diocese of Newcastle, and the Catholic dioceses of Maitland-Newcastle and Broken Bay. In a solemn ceremony in the Anglican cathedral of Newcastle on 2 April the bishops, priests, religious and laity of the three diocese pledged to build new bridges and make new steps towards Christian unity.
The Bishops, Catholic Bishop Michael Malone (Maitland-Newcastle), the Anglican Bishops, Bishop Brian Farran and Bishop Graeme Rutherford (Newcastle) and Catholic Bishop David Walker (Broken Bay) and some leading members of the respective communities, signed the solemn Pact “in the spirit of the mutual recognition in which we are united”. With the Pact the three communities themselves to organising a series of common initiatives including an annual session of ecumenical dialogue and studies, meetings organised by the respective ecumenical commissions, and sharing church resources and properties.
Stressing the importance of the agreement which opens new paths all over Australia, the Bishops recalled that the term “Pact”, is rooted in Sacred Scripture, and recalls for example the pact established between God and Abraham (Gen 17,2). The agreement was motivated by the prayer of Jesus “That all may be one ” (Jn 17,20-21): “Unity and peace are important words in the teaching of Jesus. Events in history at times made it difficult for Christians to live in agreement. Pope John Paul II left us documents which lay the foundation for our efforts to build closer relations with one another. Pope Benedict confirms this message. If we fail to go in this direction we would ignore what the Church is proclaiming today”, said Bishop David Walker. “This pact is a call to continue our mutual activities and find new ways of involvement for the future. It is a challenge for our respective communities to enter into closer relationship with other believers in Christ”, he added
Previously, Sr Carmel Pilcher in charge of Liturgy in the Catholic diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, had a meeting with the liturgists of Broken Bay dioceses and the Anglican diocese of Newcastle to prepare a Liturgy of the Word for the signing of the pact. It was a celebration rich in signs, a commemoration of common baptism, the proclamation of the Word of God and exchange of gifts in a spirit of genuine fraternity. “This act calls us to continue along the path of reconciliation and offers us new hope for the future”, the Sister concluded. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 3/4/2008 righe 30 parole 304)