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Address in the presence of the Ecumenical Patriarch at Evensong in Westminster Abbey

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  • Rev Fr John Brian
    ACNS 4243 | LAMBETH | 31 JANUARY 2007 Address at Evensong in Westminster Abbey In the presence of the Ecumenical Patriarch, His All-Holiness
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      ACNS 4243 | LAMBETH | 31 JANUARY 2007

      Address at Evensong in Westminster Abbey

      In the presence of the Ecumenical Patriarch, His All-Holiness Bartholomew I,
      and the International Commission for Anglican-Orthodox for Theological
      Dialogue

      Your All-Holiness, Your Eminences, dear brothers and sisters in Christ:

      The dialogue between the Anglican and Orthodox families of churches is not a
      new thing. Only last year, we saw the publication of a fine collection of
      essays to mark the 300th anniversary of the short-lived but significant
      experiment of a 'Greek College' in Oxford; and the wide-ranging scholarship
      of the late Judith Pinnington gave us recently a comprehensive and quite
      challenging overview of some of the questions that had arisen for both
      ecclesial families in the course of their relationship over the centuries.

      We have always had an instinct that at root, despite many superficial
      differences, our understandings of the Church of God have grown on the same
      soil. We have looked to the definitive moments of doctrinal history, in the
      early centuries of the Church, for our standards of faith and worship,
      recognising that the creeds and definitions of the Councils lay out for us a
      field large enough for the freedom of mind and spirit to flourish in the way
      God intends. We have striven to remain focused on these great central themes
      - of the revelation of the Threefold Godhead, and the inseparable yet
      distinct life of divinity and humanity in the one Person of the Eternal Son,
      in communion with whom through the Spirit we pray, act and love in the life
      of the Church.

      In the last century especially, Anglicans have become more and more aware of
      the theological and spiritual resources of their brothers and sisters in the
      East; it is not too much to say that both the thinking and the piety of
      Anglicans would have been unrecognizably different without this growing and
      thankful awareness; and many of the ways in which we as Anglicans now seek a
      way forward for the unity and coherence of our own Communion have been
      shaped by the inspiration of the Christian East.

      But in the last seventeen years, this instinct of common emphasis and
      purpose has been probed and tested at a new depth in the work of our
      International Commission for Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue.

      The Commission has not sought to negotiate an agreed position between rival
      views; it has begun from first principles, reflecting at length on the
      foundations of the Church in the triune life of God and the interpenetration
      of divine and human nature in the incarnate Son, and has advanced from there
      to offer a fresh perspective on the challenges that we face today - within
      the Church itself and in relation to the world that is hungry for words of
      life from us. It is a document that seeks unashamedly to lay out the
      foundation for proclaiming good news to our world: a bold and inviting
      vision of God's will for his Church that is more than just the record of an
      ecumenical encounter.

      It reflects many dimensions of our indebtedness to the Orthodox theological
      perspective; and you, Your All-Holiness, have yourself been a powerful
      spokesman in East and West for many of the themes that come into focus here.
      You have taught us, as no other global church leader has, the imperative
      significance of a moral and spiritual understanding of our material
      environment as the natural outworking of our faith and participation in the
      communion of the divine persons. You have witnessed to the difficult task of
      holding diverse Christian communities together in charity and right doctrine
      without the sanctions of centralised control. And in this connection we are
      all sharply aware of how your leadership and witness is exercised in local
      circumstances of real difficulty and constraint. We wish to assure you of
      our strong support for you and your fellow - Christians in Istanbul and our
      continuing gratitude for your courage and clarity as a voice in the Orthodox
      world and in the Christian world in general.

      So it is with the warmest sentiments that we greet you on this historic
      occasion, as a welcome guest in Great Britain, a welcome guest of the Church
      of England, and a welcome guest in Lambeth Palace. We have seen, through the
      work of our Commission, a great harvest of God's goodness to us all; and we
      pray that on these foundations we may continue to labour for that lasting
      and visible reconciliation between Christian believers that is Our Lord's
      will, and to labour together to show Christ to the world -Christ who, to
      take the words of the Epiphany kontakion, has come, who is manifest, who is
      the Light Inaccessible.

      + Rowan Cantuar:

      Lambeth Palace

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