Anglican Representative Speaks Up for Papal Primacy

Proposes Further Study on the Matter

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 11, 2001 (Zenit.org).- An Anglican prelate attending the Synod of Bishops announced that the communion he represents accepts the primacy of the Pope, although its application must be subject to further study.



Bishop Peter Forster of Chester, England, ecumenical delegate of the Anglican Communion to the ongoing Synod of Bishops, addressed the assembly this morning, as did representatives of the Orthodox and Armenian Churches and the World Lutheran Federation.

"Anglicans have come to accept the wisdom and need of a universal primacy, exercised by the Bishop of Rome," the Anglican said. "It is recognized that such a need, for the mission of the Church, will grown discernibly as the process of globalization progresses.

"Agreement remains to be reached over the precise rights and responsibilities to be attached to a renewed and fully ecumenical primacy."

Recognition of the unique role of the Bishop of Rome in Christianity was agreed by the Anglican Communion in a 1999 document entitled "The Gift of Authority," of the Anglo-Roman Catholic International Commission.

"Although much remains to be done, Anglicans have a deep gratitude for the pastoral priority attached by Pope John Paul II to the ecumenical task, as set out in the encyclical letter ´Ut Unum Sint,´" Bishop Forster said.

"We are also greatly encouraged by other ecumenical advances, notably the agreements between the Anglicans and Lutherans in Northern Europe, the United States of America, and Canada, to achieve full communion," he added.

Representing the Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Ambrosius of Oulu, Finland, addressed the synod for the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

As "an Orthodox Bishop I neither dare nor wish to touch the question of the relationship between primacy and collegiality, which has been raised here by several of you," he said. "However, what I may be allowed to do is to express my fraternal solidarity to you."

The metropolitan acknowledged that his Church, which has greater experience with synods, also has problems in practicing collegiality.

"In spite of the regular work of local and regional episcopal synods, in our Orthodox context today we face many difficult and unsolved problems concerning inter-Orthodox cooperation," the metropolitan said.

"Already in the 1960s, the Orthodox Churches started the preparations for the convening of a Great and Holy Synod, but until now rather little has been achieved," he said.

Bishop Mikael Ajapahyan of Gyumry and Shirak of the Armenian Apostolic Church analyzed the spiritual dimension of today´s bishop.

"In our world of individualism and self-confidence, the bishops must find the way toward people´s needs, and be closer to and more concerned with the daily problems of each member of their flock," the Armenian said.

"People should not see a bishop as a bureaucrat, who distances himself from the problems of ordinary men and women, behind the walls of his episcopal palace," the Armenian bishop said.

Lutheran Bishop Tore Furberg of Sweden also addressed the synod.

He began by referring to the 1999 Catholic-Lutheran agreement on the doctrine of justification, which surmounted one of the critical issues of Martin Luther´s schism. He also asked that the Catholic Church recognize the sacramental character of Anglican and Lutheran episcopal ordinations.