Denominations can learn from each other

AUCKLAND — Instead of asking what other denominations might learn from our beliefs, we must begin to ask how we might receive practical wisdom from the way other denominations have faced difficulties within their communions.
“Receptive ecumenism” was the overriding theme of discussion at the latest meeting of the Anglican Roman Catholic Conference of Aotearoa New Zealand (ARCCANZ), held at the Mercy Spirituality Centre from October 4 to 6.
Longtime conference member Fr Paul Williamson, SM, explained that because of confusion surrounding the study, and even abuse, of Scripture, a synod of bishops gathered to consider the Word in the liturgy and life of the Church. That led to the publication by Benedict XVI of the apostolic exhortation Verbum Domini.
Anglican Archbishop David Moxon recognised Verbum Domini as an opportunity for receptive ecumenism. He spoke of Anglicanism’s own challenges with interpreting the Scriptures relating to major decisionmaking over several contemporary questions, including human sexuality.
That has prompted an Anglican international study, The Bible in the Life of the Church.
As chairman of that project and as co-chairman, with Catholic Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham, of the third Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC III), Archbishop Moxon will propose that the two documents be studied side by side.
Ecumenism may have begun in the 1960s and 70s with unrealistic aspirations of hastened structural unity, the members of ARCCANZ agreed, but the present-day ecumenical winter of decreased interest and commitment need not be the last word.
The parallel study of Catholicism’s Verbum Domini and Anglicanism’s The Bible in the Life of the Church may well be a model of a new receptive ecumenism, of how each communion can learn from the other.
A report back on ARCIC III and a renewed interest by both communions in lectio divina will be the themes of the next bi-annual meeting of ARCCANZ, to be held at the Anglican retreat centre of Vaughan Park from March 9 to 10, 2012.

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Michael Otto

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