From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Episcopalians: Archbishop of Canterbury encouraged by visit with Pope John Paul II

Date Wed, 26 Jun 2002 13:38:23 -0400

June 26, 2002


Episcopalians: Archbishop of Canterbury encouraged by visit 
with Pope John Paul II

by James Solheim

(ENS) Archbishop of Canterbury George L. Carey made his sixth 
and final trip to the Vatican to meet with Pope John Paul II and 
said that he felt "great hope for the continuing journey in 
ecumenism to which we are both so committed."

In his formal greeting on June 21, Carey said that he was 
grateful for the opportunity to meet with the pope "before I lay 
down my office" this fall. "During the last 11 years I have been 
aware of the growing closeness, mutual affection and respect 
between our churches and this has found expression in a number 
of deep friendships," Carey said.

Carey told the pope, "Your great courage, wisdom and holiness 
of life have touched and inspired Christians throughout the 
world. Your invitation to church leaders and theologians to 
engage with you in a patient and fraternal dialogue about the 
Petrine ministry has made it possible for us to reflect on ways 
in which a Primacy of love and service could be a gift to share. 
While we are not yet in the full communion to which the Lord 
calls us, I rejoice in our shared baptismal faith and the growth 
in fellowship between our two churches."

The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission produced 
a 48-page document, "The Gift of Authority," discussing how 
authority is exercised in the church and by whom, and asking 
both churches to examine their structures. It also opened for 
discussion the role of the papacy as "a gift to be received by 
all churches" and challenged the churches to "think in new ways 
about the manner in which authority is to be ordered to the 
reconciliation of all things in Christ," according to Presiding 
Bishop Frank T. Griswold, co-chair of the commission.

Carey reported to the pope that he had met with church 
leaders in England, including Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, 
and signed a covenant that committed them "to work towards the 
visible unity of the Church of Jesus Christ in the one faith, 
expressed in common discipleship, worship, witness and service." 
Carey said that he was also encouraged by the continuing work of 
the joint commission and "the degree of fundamental agreement 
between our churches on so many aspects of our faith that the 
commission has identified and articulated."

Carey gave the pope a study of the life and work of St. 
Anselm, 36th archbishop of Canterbury, saying that "as monk, 
abbot and archbishop, statesman, theologian and philosopher he 
made a profound and enduring contribution to the life of the 

Telling the Anglican story

The visit coincided with a major exhibit on Anglicanism in 
the Vatican museums and the Sistine Hall, built in the same 
century as the break between Rome and the church in England. "I 
could not see this happening 20 years ago," Carey said in a 
press interview after viewing the exhibition which he views as 
"a visible sign of the Vatican's hospitality." 

The exhibition was organized by the British ambassador to the 
Vatican and the dean and chapter of the Diocese of Norwich. 
"This illustrates the tradition we share and some of the 
historical events which have colored our past relationships," 
Carey said to the pope. He also cited the creation of the 
Anglican Center in Rome, following the "historic visit of my 
predecessor Archbishop Michael Ramsey in 1966."

"This is not just another collection of art grouped around a 
theme," said Cardinal Edmund Szoka, governor of Vatican City. 
"It is something much more important than that because it tells 
a story about an important part of our Western Christian 
tradition. This is the first time that the Vatican mounted an 
exhibition about another Christian church which is not formally 
in union with the church of Rome."

The exhibition coincides with the Golden Jubilee of Queen 
Elizabeth II and the 20th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's 
historic visit to Canterbury Cathedral, the mother church of 


--James Solheim is director of Episcopal News Service.

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