ARCHBISHOP JOHN BATHERSBY of Brisbane is co-chair of IARCCUM, the International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission, and attended an historic meeting in Rome in November between the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and Pope Benedict XVI. He wrote this special report for The Catholic Leader.

Archbishop Rowan Williams’ visit to Rome from November 21-24, accompanied by his wife Jane and son Pip, was both symbolic and effective.

It celebrated the 40 years of renewed relationship between the Anglican and the Roman Catholic Communions begun with the visit of Archbishop Michael Ramsey to Pope Paul VI in 1966.

As co-chair of IARCCUM (International Anglican and Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission), I was privileged to share the occasion with other co-chairs of IARCCUM and ARCIC (Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission), as well as a number of Anglican and Roman Catholic representatives from our respective offices.

While all the meetings were important, the most important were undoubtedly the informal talks between the two communions on November 22, and the meetings with the Pope, both private and public, on the next day with the signing of a common declaration of agreement followed by prayer together.

At the informal talks led by Archbishop Williams and Cardinal Kasper it was agreed that the meetings of ARCIC and IARCCUM should continue into the future, probably beginning after the Lambeth Conference in 2008.

In the meantime, working meetings would take place to plan a way forward for both bodies.

At the meeting the discussion also took place about the final paper on Mary produced by ARCIC in 2005, and the statement of agreement from IARCCUM “Growing Together in Unity and Mission” that will probably be released in 2007 after it has been officially received by both communions.

A great spirit of friendship existed between the participants at the informal talks.

Copyright © Archbishop John Bathersby The Catholic Leader