Thursday, August 01, 2013

A Warranted Ecumenical Gesture?

Been doing some cleaning, and was flipping through the Winter 1997/98 issue of Company. From the article "Gospel First," By Fr. Keith Pecklers, SJ:
During the archbishop of Canterbury's visit to the Vatican in 1996, the press chose to make women's ordination the hot issue between the pope and the archbishop. This was not the case. What was the case was a visible, tangible warmth between the two, evident in the pope's unexpected invitation to Dr. George Carey and his wife, Eileen, to join him for lunch in his apartment.

The press also missed the symbolic significance of the exchange of gifts between the two Church leaders. The archbishop presented the Holy Father with a communion box engraved with the cross of Canterbury, while the pope presented the archbishop with a gold bishop's cross--the same presented to Roman Catholic archbishops during their Ad Limina Apostolorum visits. He gave other Anglican bishops the same silver cross he gives to Roman Catholic bishops.

At the ecumenical Evening Prayer held at the Church of San Gregorio, the archbishop of Canterbury was prepared to wear tradition choir dress--cassock and surplice--as his predecessors had done, so as not to upstage the pope dressed in mitre and cope. (The former is the arched hat worn by bishops and abbots; the latter the cape worn over alb and stole.) Instead, the Vatican sent word that Dr. Carey was to vest in mitre and cope and that his wife was to walk in the processions. In a city where nothing is without symbolic significance, these acts on the part of the Vatican were extraordinary.

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