Unity between Christians is of vital importance in an increasingly divided world, said Archbishop Justin Welby at an ecumenical Evensong marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Anglican Centre in Rome held at Westminster Abbey this week.
The head of the Church of England said in his sermon on 14 June that in the fifty years since the formation of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (Arcic) and the setting up of the Anglican Centre in Rome much has been done to challenge four centuries of accepted division between the Anglican Communion and Catholic Church.
“The habits of centuries render us comfortable with disunity,” said Archbishop Justin Welby, who is also the charity’s president. The work of the Anglican Centre in Rome, he said, disrupted historical separation.
Archbishop Justin Welby described the centre as a symbol of unity, uniquely able to represent Christians of different denominations bearing with one another. This, he said in reference to the reading which was taken from Ephesians 4, is “the life to which the Christian is called”.
We are increasingly confronted with a world which does not ask if we are Catholic or Anglican but if we are Christian, said Archbishop Welby. The woman raped in the DRC or the homeless man on the Embankment asks only for a witness to love, he added. “To be together in truth is to become part of the bearers of life,” he added.
The ecumenical service opened with a procession including co-chairs of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, the Revd Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham, and Revd Dr David Moxon; Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK, Revd Marcus Walker, associate director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, and former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey. Cardinal Vincent Nichols was represented by Right Revd Nicholas Hudson.
The Anglican Centre in Rome, established as a result of an historic meeting between Archbishop Michael Ramsey and Pope Paul VI in March 1966, provides a permanent Anglican presence in Rome and seeks to promote Christian unity through dialogue, education and hospitality.