30 January 2024, The Tablet

Cardinal Chow preaches on ‘partnership’ at Canterbury Cathedral

The Bishop of Hong Kong said that the apostles “were not called to form camps” but “a community, a communion, a synodal koinonia”.

Cardinal Chow preaches on ‘partnership’ at Canterbury Cathedral

Cardinal Stephen Chow preaches to Catholic and Anglican bishops in Canterbury Cathedral on 28 January.
Neil Turner / IARCCUM

Cardinal Stephen Chow SJ, the Bishop of Hong Kong, said that Catholics and Anglicans are called to be “partners” in Christ’s “ever-loving and ever-inclusive mission of salvation” in a homily at Canterbury Cathedral.

The cardinal had been invited to preach at the cathedral’s sung eucharist on 28 January, the last day of a week-long ecumenical summit for Catholic and Anglican bishops

Around 50 bishops took part, each “paired” with a bishop of the other denomination from their own country, in the “Growing Together” summit organised by the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM). 

The week had begun in Rome, where the bishops visited holy sites and received a commission from Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby at the Tomb of St Paul, before moving to Canterbury on the Friday.

As well as the Sunday eucharist, where Archbishop Welby presided, the bishops had attended the vigil Mass at the Catholic Church of St Thomas of Canterbury the previous evening, where Archbishop Chris Cardone of Honiara, in the Solomon Islands, was the chief celebrant.

In his homily, Cardinal Chow said that the apostles “were not called to form camps” but “to become an assembly, a community, a communion, a synodal koinonia”.

“God is not amused by anyone losing out,” he said, as he prayed that Christ’s example may “move us to ecumenical actions”, spurred by the “heart-rending” experience of division and the “pain of not being able to receive communion together”.

During the celebration of the eucharist, Archbishop Welby prayed that the sight of the bishops not receiving communion together would “strike a sword in our hearts in sorrow and in grief”.

Fr Martin Browne OSB of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity told The Tablet that the week had been “transformative” for the bishops involved. 

They had been nominated to attend by their respective conferences and provinces, with a variety of ecumenical experience which Fr Browne said had stimulated discussions on a final statement, which they planned to publish this week.

The joint chairs of the summit, Archbishop Donald Bolen of Regina, Canada and Bishop David Hamid, a suffragan bishop of the Anglican Diocese in Europe, said that their meeting was “extremely important, especially at such a time as this when the world is so fragmented”.

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