Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - This morning Friday 24 November, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of the Anglican Communion, His Grace Dr. Rowan Williams, paid a visit to the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples. The Archbishop is leading a delegation on an official visit to Rome 21 to 26 November on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the historic meeting between Pope Paul VI and the then Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Michael Ramsey.
The Archbishop of Canterbury was welcomed by Archbishop Robert Sarah and Archbishop Henrych Hoser respectively Secretary and Secretary Adjunct of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples. After a private meeting with the Cardinal Prefect His Eminence Ivan Dias, the Anglican delegation accompanied by the clergy staff members of the CEP went to pray in the recently restored Newman Chapel. The prayer ended with the hymn “Praise to the Holiest in the High”, words written by Newman.
Then the Cardinal accompanied the Delegation to the Chapel of the Three Kings in the Propaganda Fide building, to meet the staff of the CEP and the Missionary Pontifical Mission Societies. Addressing the Archbishop of Canterbury, Cardinal Dias said “Anglicans and Catholics are united not only by a profound desire to be receptive to God’s holy will but also in the call they have received to share in Christ’s salvific mission and to do so together whenever possible”. Recalling the Common Declaration signed in 1977 by Pope Paul VI and the then Archbishop of Canterbury Donald Coggan, who gave thanks for common faith and shared traditions, Cardinal Dias said these elements are “a strong foundation on which we can build up the Kingdom of God together and whence spread the sweet fragrance of Jesus Christ to the four corners of the world”. The Cardinal then added that the call to given joint witness to the salvific message of the Gospel is “all the more urgent today when we consider the common challenges we face”.
Expressing his joy at welcoming the Primate of the Anglican Communion, Cardinal Dias recalled that among the seminarians of various nationalities who lived and studied at Propaganda Fide, at the times Urban College, there was “an illustrious theologian and pioneer in the quest for Christian unity, whose life’s work as been a gift to Anglicans and Catholics alike: John Henry Newman”. Ordained a Catholic priest in the Chapel of the Three Kings, on 30 May 1847, feast of the Most Holy Trinity, Newman was “a forerunner of the Second Vatican Council”, and in times of difficult and struggle he entrusted himself completely to the Lord spending long hours in prayer. Still today there are challenges and hurdles on the ecumenical journey, and “even if we cannot as yet see the distant scene of full ecclesial communion, we trust that God’s Holy Spirit will lead us on, one step at a time, towards our final destination of unity in love and truth ” the Cardinal said.
Archbishop Williams, speaking without a text, thanked Cardinal Dias for his words and the opportunity to pray together. He recalled that the Church has always been missionary since the time of the Apostles and he reaffirmed his commitment to spread the Good News to the ends of the earth. The Primate of the Anglican Communion recalled the common challenges faced by Catholics and Anglicans in missionary work in Africa, in Asia and South America, “challenges which only together we can overcome” he said. At the end of the Archbishop’s discourse there was the recitation of the Our Father prayer followed by the Blessing given jointly by both the Archbishop and the Cardinal. (S.L.) (Agenzia Fides 24/11/2006 - Righe 41, parole 585)