Painful Divisions

Diocese of Westminster

The Archbishop of Canterbury has written of the pain caused by the broken communion between Christians since the Protestant Reformation.

As churches mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, Archbishop Justin Welby said that “we have learned once again to love one another — and to seek to bless and love the world in which we live.”

Archbishop Justin made his comments in an article for London’s Evening Standard. Welby wrote about a recent Communion service he attended at Westminster Cathedral, led by the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols.

“Because of the events of the Reformation and the history since, it remains impossible for Anglicans and Roman Catholics to receive communion together,” he wrote. “At that solemn moment in the service I lined up at the front with everyone else. But because I could not put my hands out for the bread and wine, I knelt down to be prayed for by Cardinal Nichols. He took my hand and lifted me to my feet. Both of us had tears in our eyes. We are the closest of friends, and being reminded of the divisions in the global Church pains us both very deeply.”

Describing past persecution, he wrote about a fig tree planted in 1556 at Lambeth Palace by a former Archbishop of Canterbury, Cardinal Reginald Pole, “to celebrate trying his predecessor for heresy, and then having him burnt at the stake.”

It was, he wrote, an example that there was “much to mourn, and much for which to be sorry” about the Reformation.

On Oct., Archbishop Welby will preach during an ecumenical service at Westminster Abbey to mark the Reformation’s 500th anniversary.

Adapted from ACNS

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