(Vatican Radio) The plenary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity concluded on Friday after four days of discussions around the question ‘What model for full communion?’ As well as exploring the theological progress of recent years, participants have been discussing the newer shared practical challenges of recovering from the sexual abuse scandals, or providing pastoral care for families that do not conform to traditional Church teaching.
Pope Francis met with participants on Thursday stressing that Christian unity is an essential requirement of faith for all the baptized and a personal priority for him.
New Zealand Cardinal John Dew is a member of the Pontifical Council and was one of the pairs of Catholic and Anglican bishops in Rome last month for the meeting of the International Anglican Catholic Commission on Unity and Mission (IARCCUM).
He talked to Philippa Hitchen about the many way Christians of different denominations can and must work and worship more closely together.
Cardinal Dew says that although there doesn’t always seem to be as much ecumenical progress as there was in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, “many things are happening at the practical level”.
He reflects on the Pope’s description of families in ‘Amoris Laetitia’, where he points out that “no family drops down from heaven perfectly formed” and questions how we can apply this concept to the Christian family too.
Following on from the IARCCUM meeting, when pairs of Anglican and Catholic bishops were sent out on mission together by the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Cardinal Dew asks whether bishops in each diocese can be encouraged to adopt this model, followed by Catholic and Anglican priests with their local communities.
It’s everybody’s task, he stresses, to build up relationships that can help us towards the goal of full, visible communion. Anglican and catholic parishes in NZ are working together in many practical ways, the cardinal says, including support for refugees coming into the country.
Another area of discussion at the plenary has been what the cardinal calls the ‘ecumenism of humiliation’ for Churches dealing with the effects of clerical abuse scandals. By facing such difficulties together and being “united in the cross”, he says, we ask how it can enable us to journey more closely together.