Friendships mature on ecumenical road to unity

The mood on the pilgrimage to unity has changed but friendships have continued to mature in the midst of complex issues, Archbishop Christopher Prowse and Wangaratta Anglican Bishop John Parkes said in a joint letter.


Above: All the Anglican and Roman Catholic Bishops in the Canterbury and Rome delegation. Below: Bishops delegates for Australia, Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn Christopher Prowse with Anglican Bishop of Wangaratta John Parkes. Pictures: Supplied.

The men represented the Roman Catholic and Anglican communities of Australia in an ecumenical pilgrimage to Canterbury and Rome.

They attended to mark 50 years since Anglican Archbishop Michael Ramsay and Pope Paul VI met to begin formally the worldwide Anglican/Roman Catholic ecumenical dialogue.

“Together with 38 Anglican and Catholic Bishops from 19 countries, we reviewed the progress on the pilgrimage to unity so far,” Archbishop Prowse and Bishop Parkes said.

“The mood has changed from optimism that organic unity was imminent, to a more realistic assessment.

“Serious obstacles have arisen on matters pertaining to the ordination of women, and human sexuality. Friendships between our communities have continued to mature in the midst of these complex issues.”

The letter also provided a platform for how Catholic and Anglican communities can move forward together despite their differences.

“A high point of our time together was the commissioning by Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin Welby of 19 pairs of Anglican/Roman Catholic Bishops from around the world,” they said.

“We have both been commissioned to return to Australia and encourage and re-energise the friendships we have developed in Australia within our communities.

“We rely on our continued ecumenical friendships, common witness and mission, dialogue and study, and common prayer, to deepen our shared pilgrimage on this ecumenical journey to unity.”

Common concerns pertinent to both the Roman and Catholic communities were raised in the letter, including responding to secularism, refugees, homelessness and corruption.

“Wonderful pastoral initiatives were showcased,” they said.

The names of revered Australians were mentioned for their past contributions on the world stage to this ecumenical friendship, including Charles Sherlock, Bishop Michael Putney, Cardinal Edward Idris Cassidy, Bishop Peter Carnley and Fr Peter Cross.

Other items discussed in the letter include continued ecumenical friendships, theological education, practical support especially in rural communities, common witness and mission, dialogue and study, and common prayer to deepen the shared pilgrimage on the ecumenical journey to unity.

The letter ended by encouraging the faithful to read the ecumenical documents between the two Christian denominations available at and

It also asked those who have read the statement to pass it on in their networks.

“Please share this good news with the very many groups within Australia committed to Anglican and Roman Catholic ecumenical dialogue,” the letter said.

Archbishop Prowse and Bishop Parkes thanked both Roman Catholic and Anglican parishioners for their efforts with regard to fostering ecumenical friendships between the two communities.

To read the letter in full go to