Anglican/Old Catholic International Co-ordinating Council meets in Kilkenny
Last week, the Bishop of Cashel, Ferns and Ossory, the Rt Revd Michael Burrows, as Anglican Co-Chair of the Anglican/Old Catholic International Co- ordinating Council (AOCICC), hosted a meeting of the Council in Kilkenny.
The 27th-30th August meeting was also attended by the Old Catholic Co-Chair, the Bishop of Haarlem (Amsterdam), the Rt Revd Dirk Jan Schoon, along with Council members Bishop David Hamid, Jennifer Knudsen, Canon Alyson Barnett- Cowan, Co-secretary, and Neil Vigers, Anglican Communion Office (Anglicans) and the Revd Professor Angela Berlis, the Revd Professor David Holeton, the Revd Dr Heinz Lederleitner and the Revd Lars Simpson, Co-Secretary (Old Catholics).
The Council prayed and studied the Bible daily.
Anglican and Old Catholics
It was indeed a unique occasion – and a singular honour for the Church of Ireland – that the Anglican/Old Catholic International Co-ordinating Council (AOCICC) should have held its most recent meeting in Ireland (report, page 1). Anglicans and Old Catholics live side-by-side mainly on the continent of Europe, but it was the choice of the Archbishop of Canterbury last year that Bishop Michael Burrows should be Anglican Co-Chair of the Council that led to the event being held this year in his United Dioceses.
The Old Catholic Churches, known as the Union of Utrecht, are in communion with Anglicans on the basis of the 1931 Bonn Agreement, a concise document in which each Communion “recognises the catholicity and independence of the other, and maintains its own” and “agrees to admit members of the other Communion to participate in the sacraments”, further stating: “Intercommunion does not require from either Communion the acceptance of all doctrinal opinion, sacramental devotion or liturgical practice characteristic of the other, but implies that each believes the other to hold all the essentials of the Christian Faith.” The merit, or otherwise, of the Bonn Agreement’s brevity was among a range of topics which the AOCICC Co-Chairs – Bishop Burrows and Bishop Dirk Jan Schoon – discussed in a Gazette interview. (Visit www.gazette.ireland.anglican. org/audio Interview 52)
Composed of essentially three different sections – the Old Catholic Church in the Netherlands; the German, Austrian and Swiss Old Catholic Churches; and the Slavonic Old Catholic Churches – the first breach between Old Catholics and Rome came in the Netherlands in the 18th century over the Jansenist controversy and the deposition of the Vicar Apostolic, Petrus Codde. The German, Austrian and Swiss Old Catholic Churches came about in the late 19th century as a result of a breach over the Roman Catholic doctrine of papal infallibility and universal papal jurisdiction. The Slavonic branch has given rise to the Polish National Catholic Church in America, Poland, the Czech Republic and Croatia. There is also an Old Catholic Church in Denmark and Sweden. However, the American Polish National Catholic Church has ceased to be part of the Union, due to differences over women’s ordination and approaches to human sexuality.
In our interview, the Old Catholic Co-Chair of AOCICC, Bishop Schoon, said that Old Catholics approach the same-sex issue “very cautiously”, but also indicated that some of the Old Catholic Churches allow for the blessing of same-sex relationships. Amongst the other topics in the interview, Bishop Schoon spoke about his experience of being a bishop as well as a parish priest, at the same time – an issue which also has resonances within the Church of Ireland today.
The AOCICC is not an ecumenical body – given that Anglicans and Old Catholics are in communion with each other – but is rather, as its title indicates, the body by which relations can be co-ordinated. Certain anomalies exist on the European continent as far as Anglicans and others are concerned, given that, as Christians of different Churches which are in communion with each other, they nonetheless live under different episcopal oversight in the same geographical territories.
There are Anglicans, Old Catholics, members of the US Episcopal Church and members of the Porvoo Churches. Whether or not all of these groups will ever come to live under one bishop in each territory is an important question, but it would certainly appear that that is not going to happen any time soon. Indeed, perhaps this poses a challenge to the Churches to do some lateral thinking about Church and ‘territory’ in the modern era, when life and society do not have as straightforward demarcations as in earlier times.
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Letters to the Editor
I WAS greatly encouraged to read the letter on pastoral visiting written by Dean Griffin (Gazette, 25th July). He is a man of wisdom and long experience and has certainly confirmed my views as a layman on this subject. I cannot understand why it is not possible for clergy in rural Ireland to visit their flock from time to time and not to wait until they are sick.
I can remember as a young person how important it was for the Faith Mission Pilgrims to come into a district and visit every home. The people who attended these meetings are, in many cases, good, active churchmen and women. I would humbly suggest that we refer to our clergy as shepherds, as stated in the Ordination of Priests in the Book of Common Prayer, and conclude with two verses from a well-known hymn:
There were ninety and nine that safely lay in the shelter of the fold; But one was out on the hills away far off from the gates of gold Away on the mountains wild and bare away from the tender Shepherd’s care. Lord thou hast here thy ninety and nine; are they not enough for thee? But the Shepherd made answer, This of mine has wandered away from me; And although the road be rough and steep I go to the desert to find my sheep.
W.S. Eric McElhinney Tirhomin Milford Co. Donegal
Tour of Enniskillen’s churches
ON WEDNESDAY 24th September, the Ulster Historic Churches Trust, in conjunction with Enniskillen Churches, will be hosting a tour of local churches, designed to appreciate the rich legacy of the town’s fine ecclesiastical heritage. The tour will begin at Darling Street Methodist Church at 2.30pm, proceeding to St Michael’s Catholic Church (3.15pm), St Macartin’s Church of Ireland Cathedral (3.45pm), Scots Presbyterian Church (4.30pm) and concluding with refreshments at the Bridge Centre at 5.00pm. The tour will be followed by an informative talk to be delivered by Manus Deery, Assistant Director of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, on how best to maintain these buildings for future generations.
For further information about this event, Gazette readers can contact firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. 07979 530379, or visit www.ulsterhistoricchurches.org. Stephen McBride (The Ven. Dr) Church of Ireland Clerical Representative, Ulster Historic Churches Trust
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