|This morning Pope Francis received in audience twenty members of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, meeting in these days in order to study the relationship between the universal Church and the local Church, with particular reference to processes for discussions and decision making regarding moral and ethical questions. The Commission was created as a result of the historic meeting in 1966 between Pope Paul VI and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Arthur Michael Ramsey, who signed a joint declaration to establish dialogue based on the Gospel and the common tradition in the hope of leading to the unity in truth for which Christ prayed.
Although that goal has not yet been reached, the Commission's visit to the Pope shows how “the shared tradition of faith and history between Anglicans and Catholics can inspire and sustain our efforts to overcome the obstacles to full communion”. Furthermore, the commission will shortly publish five jointly agreed statements from the second phase of the Anglican-Catholic dialogue, a reminder that ecumenical relations and dialogue are not secondary elements of the life of the Churches. “The cause of unity is not an optional undertaking and the differences which divide us must not be seen as inevitable”, said the Holy Father.
“There is a strong bond that already unites us which goes beyond all divisions”, underlined Francis. “It is the testimony of Christians from different Churches and traditions, victims of persecution and violence simply because of the faith they profess. And not only now, that there are many of them; I think also of the martyrs of Uganda, half Catholics and half Anglicans. The blood of these martyrs will nourish a new era of ecumenical commitment, a fervent desire to fulfil the last will and testament of the Lord: that all may be one. The witness by these our brothers and sisters demands that we live in harmony with the Gospel and that we strive with determination to fulfil the Lord's will for his Church. Today the world urgently needs the common, joyful witness of Christians, from the defence of life and human dignity to the promotion of justice and peace. Together let us invoke the gifts of the Holy Spirit in order to be able to respond courageously to the 'signs of the times' which are calling all Christians to unity and common witness”.