Anglican and Roman Catholic leaders at Walsingham have signed a covenant affirming their joint ministry.

The Rev. Kevin Smith, priest administrator of the Anglican shrine, and Msgr. John Armitage, rector of the Roman Catholic shrine, signed the covenant during Solemn Vespers in the shrine church on Sept. 24, the Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham.

These are among the covenant’s eight declarations:

  • Recognizing that we share custodianship of the “Holy Land of Walsingham,” and alongside our brothers and sisters in the Orthodox Church and in the Methodist tradition, we will ensure our Shrine sites are places of reciprocal welcome and hospitality for pilgrims from all traditions.
  • Conscious of our common witness to the unique vocation of the Blessed Virgin Mary we will look for ways we can collaborate in joint teaching initiatives in our churches and to our nation on her place in the economy of salvation.
  • We shall on certain agreed feasts share together in prayer and procession. In particular on the Solemnity of the Assumption we shall celebrate with a solemn procession and preaching at St. Mary’s, the Church of the Ascension, and the Anglican Shrine. …
  • Walsingham witnesses to God, to his initiative in creation, to his act of re-creation in Christ. Both Shrines recognize the call to take up commitment to creation, to care for the environment, and to promote new initiatives to encourage sustainability.

Bishops of the two communions praised the covenant.

Walsingham “strengthens the witness of Walsingham to the gospel and reminds everyone that the Blessed Virgin Mary is for all Christians,” wrote the Rt. Rev. Graham James, Bishop of Norwich. “We look to her faithful obedience as a model of discipleship and rely on her intercession. May Blessed Mary draw us into the unity her Son desires for His Church.”

“Mary provides in this holy place the model for all our pilgrimages: her great “yes” to God, in the Annunciation, teaches us that faith and obedience are the only path for all who seek to journey more closely with her Son and with each other,” wrote the Rt. Rev. Alan S. Hopes, Bishop of East Anglia.

“For Mary is the one who is ‘blessed because she believed’: she was the first to believe. From the moment of the Annunciation, Mary follows Jesus step by step in her maternal pilgrimage of faith; and since the day of Pentecost, the birthday of the Church, disciples of Christ from all nations have united to ‘devote themselves to prayer together with Mary, the mother of Jesus.’”

Adapted from the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham.

Biretta tip: Anglican Ink

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