Anglican Archbishop Invites Catholic, Lutheran to Move Into Lambeth Palace

Lambeth Palace – view from across the Thames River

“An important and profound step for relations between the Catholic and Anglican Churches.”

That’s how the Archbishop Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, described the contribution of the Catholic-founded ecumenical community Chemin Neuf.

Last month, the Anglican Archbishop invited members of the group to move into Lambeth Palace, his official London residence on the south side of the Thames.  In a ceremony on February 20, he formally welcomed four members of the community:  a married Anglican couple, Ione and Alan Morley-Fletcher; a German Lutheran training for ministry, Oliver Matri; and a Polish Catholic consecrated sister, Sister Ula Michlowicz.

Archbishop Justin Welby

The first priority identified by Archbishop Welby is the renewal of prayer and the religious life within the Church.  The ecumenical group will join with the Archbishop in his daily round of prayer (three services per day in the Palace’s Crypt Chapel), and will help to further the ecumenical and international dimensions of his work.

Attending a special service of thanksgiving and dedication in the chapel at Lambeth Palace on Thursday, in addition to the four new Palace residents, were Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark, and Archbishop David Moxon, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the Holy See.

Archbishop Welby, speaking before a service of thanksgiving and dedication in the chapel at Lambeth Palace, said that the process of bringing the two Churches together would advance “one step at a time”.

The four members of the Chemin Neuf community who will reside in Lambeth Palace

“This is an important ecumenical step and a profound one. There is a sense that Jesus Christ is bringing us together to pray together,” he said.  Further, Archbishop Welby said,

“There has never been a renewal of the Church in Western Europe without a renewal of prayer and the life of religious communities. If we want to see things changed, it starts with prayer.  I am deeply moved that in God’s grace,  Chemin Neuf agreed to this radical and exciting new step of coming to live as a community of prayer, hospitality and learning at Lambeth Palace. We pray that this step of obedience will bear fruit among us, and for the Church.”

The service was attended by the Archbishop of Southwark, Peter Smith, and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the Holy See, Archbishop David Moxon.

Sister Michlowicz, the Catholic member of the community, said in The Tablet:

“I love praying in the Crypt. It is like being part of an underground prayer stream overflowing into Lambeth Palace, to the city of London, to all these places we’re praying for.”

Chemin Neuf is a Catholic foundation with an ecumenical vocation, and its members come from different Christian denominations.  Among its members are men and women, both married and single.  Some of the members take lifetime vows, while others commit for a shorter term.

“Expect Surprises”: Archbishop of Canterbury’s Remarkable Interview at the World Council of Churches

Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby

The Archbishop of Canterbury has hinted that we should expect “a few surprises” in terms of ecumenical relations between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church.

Archbishop Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the Anglican Communion, is in Busan, South Korea, attending the 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches.  In his address to the Assembly, he noted that the WCC Assembly really reflects the depth and breadth of God’s great Church; and he called members to recommit themselves to the task of restoring full, visible, sacramental unity to the Body of Christ.  “We must be one,” he said, “so that the gospel we preach is not denied by the way we live our separate lives.”

Canterbury Cathedral

In an extraordinary interview with Philippa Hitchen of Vatican Radio, Archbishop Welby also spoke with conviction about the importance of Christian unity, and expressed his hope that the participating churches will work fervently on the important doctrinal and dogmatic differences between them

“…in the context of churches and ecclesial communities that say no sacrifice is too great to be obedient to the call of Christ that we may be one.”

“Perhaps,” the Anglican Archbishop mused, “we need to reimagine what it means to look like the church and to surrender some of the things that give us our sense of identity in the cause of Christ.”

There’s more.  Read Hitchen’s full interview with Archbishop Welby here.

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Archbishop Welby is primate of the 80 million member Anglican Communion, which is the third largest Christian denomination in the world, after the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches.  However, his opinion is not binding for others in the Anglican Communion; there is no single “Anglican Church” with universal juridical authority, as each national or regional church has full autonomy.

Both Archbishop Welby and Pope Francis assumed their leadership roles in their respective churches in March 2013; and the two met for the first time in June.  From the start, they seem to have established a friendship of respect and common concerns.

Recently, Archbishop Welby spoke of the spiritual gift of the Catholic sacrament of reconciliation, and encouraged members of his flock to “Do like the Catholics, and go to confession.”



Archbishop of Canterbury: “Do Like the Catholics, Go to Confession”

The Most Rev Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, has a recommendation to Anglicans:  Go to confession.

Addressing the heads of other churches—including the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Most Rev. Vincent Nichols—Archbishop Welby admitted that confessing one’s weaknesses to someone else might not be a “bunch of laughs,” still he believes that unburdening oneself to a confessor is good for the soul.

“It is enormously powerful and hideously painful when it’s done properly,” he said.  “It’s really horrible when you go to see your confessor – I doubt you wake up in the morning and think, this is going to be a bunch of laughs.”  But speaking about it as part of a “wider catholic tradition,” Archbishop Welby encouraged his congregants to try it for themselves.

Archbishop Welby and Pope Francis meet for the first time, June 14, 2013

Justin Welby was enthroned as Archbishop of Canterbury on March 21, two days after Pope Francis celebrated his inaugural Mass.  The two men met for the first time June 14, and have shown an affinity for one another.  Before the meeting, which occurred in Rome, Archbishop Welby and his wife Caroline visited the tomb of St. Peter beneath St. Peter’s Basilica and stopped to pray at the tomb of Blessed Pope John Paul II.

There are other points in which the Anglican archbishop has demonstrated his respect for Catholicism:  For example, his spiritual director is a Roman Catholic priest from Switzerland, Rev. Nicolas Buttet, whose ministerial service has included a term on the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.  Archbishop Welby has also been an advocate for Catholic worship styles.

Like the Catholic Church, he opposes sex outside of marriage.  Like the Catholic Church, he has advocated against same-sex marriage—while speaking strongly against homophobia, instead reminding his followers to love all with the love of Christ.

He breaks with Catholic tradition, however, in his support for female bishops in the Anglican Church.