The second phase of the latest joint summit bringing together Anglican and Catholic bishops from around the world, has been taking place in Canterbury this weekend.
Over a four-day weekend, the bishops took part in a candlelit tour of Canterbury Cathedral, a Vigil Mass of St Thomas of Canterbury parish and Cathedral Eucharist (Holy Communion) together.
The summit, entitled, “Growing Together” has seen pairs of Anglican and Catholic bishops gather for a series of ecumenical discussions and visits to holy sites in Rome, that have significance to the common roots shared by both traditions.
The International Anglican–Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) aims to foster closer co-operation between the Anglican and Roman Catholic traditions and put into practice progress made in theological conversations.
The Catholic and Anglican bishop pairing from England was made up of Bishop Peter Collins, from East Anglia and Bishop Stephen Race, from Beverley near York.
On their final day in Rome the pair read from the Letter of St Gregory the Great to St Augustine, who was influential in the establishment of Christianity in the UK, and became the first Archbishop of Canterbury in 597.
The group held ecumenical discussions on joint witness and mission, and work on the preparation of a Joint Statement, for how the bishops will take forward the fruits of their discussion in their home dioceses.
IARCCUM was established in 2000, by Archbishop George Carey and Cardinal Edward Cassidy, the then President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
This is the second time during Archbishop Justin Welby’s and Pope Francis’ leadership that the summit has been commissioned. The two leaders have met often in Rome, and along with Stephen Cottrell, the Archbishop of York, they have spoken repeatedly of the vital importance of churches working together for the sake of the gospel.
On a visit to Rome last May, Archbishop Stephen said:
“My prayer is that Christians of all denominations can work together more and be united in our desire to follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit as we look to share the love of God as seen in Jesus with the many in our world who long for hope and meaning in their lives.
He added that when churches "reach out together in mission, in service of the world and in proclamation of the gospel," unity is strengthened and revealed.