Cardinal voices concern about obstacles to unity
by Ted Malone
Photo by Carol Barnwell
Fire from a paschal candle lit one small taper, and the light spread from that to another, to yet another,until the gloom in the darkened hall was brightened by their glow. And the rising smoke of incense, billowing high in the air, became a light-reflecting cloud that lit all below it. Thus began the Lambeth Conference's Monday night service of light, an Ecumenical Vespers in which leaders of the Anglican Communion introduced a wide variety of representatives from the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, Methodist, Reformed and Baptist denominations and from world and regional Christian associations.
Vatican official Edward Cardinal Cassidy addressed the Conference in a homily in which he praised the concept of Christian unity but voiced the concern of the Roman Church that deviations in theological practice among local churches present a grave obstacle to reunion. He did not specify any particular situations difficult to the Roman Catholic Church, making no mention of the ordination of women as priests and bishops within the Anglican Communion and only a general reference to controversies over questions of human sexuality--issues that for the past two decades have at times thrown a damper over Roman-Anglican diaogues, just as they have drawn attention to the problem of collegiality within the Communion itself.
"The theological practice of the local Church must be compatible with the theological practice of the universal Church," he insisted. The question of authority must be addressed; otherwise
Songs, hymns and litanies in the service reinforced the theme of Christian unity and Anglican diversity. Archbishop Patrice Njojo, of the Congo, read in French a litany of thanksgiving, and Mrs Gladys Chiwanga, wife of the Bishop of Mpwapwa (Tanzania), read Ephesians 1:9-12 in Swahili. The Gospel, John 17:20-26, was read in Greek by Bishop Jabez Cardinal Cassidy.
Bryce (Polynesia), chair of the Ecumenical Advisory Group of the Anglican Communion and chair of Section One, "Called to be One." After the homily, Metropolitan John Pergamon, representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch to the Lambeth Conference, led worshippers in the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed.
Following the introduction of ecumenical guests, Bishop Carlo Lopez-Lozano of the Spanish Reformed Episcopal Church led the intercessions. Dr Carey briefly thanked the ecumenical guests for their participation. Bishop Frank Griswold, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the U.S., introduced representatives of the Roman Catholic Church: Cardinal Cassidy, Archbishop Alex Brunett, Bishop Philip Pargeter, Bishop Pierre Duprey and Rev Tim Galligan. Bishop Griswold talked of the commitment toward unity that is "already in the mind and imagination of God."