Growing Together signals move to Anglican and Catholic unity

In a historic move towards unity, Anglican and Catholic bishops from across the globe gathered for the ‘Growing Together’ summit, a testament to their commitment to bridge centuries-old divides.

The Growing Together summit, known as the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM), was held from 22-29 January in Rome and Canterbury.

Anglican Bishop Ross Bay and Catholic Bishop Michael Gielen represented New Zealand at the gathering.

Bay attended the last IARCCUM summit in 2016.

He said walking alongside Bishop Gielen, with whom he serves as a co-chair of the local New Zealand Anglican-Catholic dialogue, has opened up opportunities.

“As a result of being together here, I hope that we will grow in our commitment to express our unity in more tangible ways through our common mission.”

Gielen says the rich history of IARCCUM inspires him.

“It has been a deep privilege to join with fellow bishops of our respective churches from around the world, hearing their stories and, in many cases, their profound challenges, while continuing to celebrate the Good News of Jesus Christ we share.”

The event culminated in a joint statement, Our Common Witness, Calling and Commitment.

The statement is a powerful call for unity and a joint mission, saying the churches need to emphasise the need to “walk together, pray together and seek justice together.”

The bishops’ statement reflects on the journey towards reconciliation that began almost six decades ago, acknowledging the Holy Spirit’s role in bridging centuries of separation and conflict.

It highlights the progress made through theological dialogue and shared prayer, leading to a deep and profound connection, albeit not yet full communion.

The document outlines a vision for the future, urging both churches to explore further possibilities for collaboration, particularly in witness, friendship, mission, synodality and the prioritising of fraternity over structures.

The bishops place significant focus on mission with a call to address the needs of Indigenous Peoples, descendants of enslaved persons and those affected by colonisation and assimilation.

The environmental crisis was a key topic, with bishops from Amazonia sharing their experiences. The statement aligns with Pope Francis’s Encyclical on the Environment, Laudato Si’, and the Lambeth Call on the Environment advocating for the care of our common home.

This summit marks a pivotal moment in the relationship between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church, and serves as a beacon of unity in a divided world.


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News category: New Zealand.

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