Archbishop Welby Detects an Ecumenical Spring

Archbishop Justin Welby delivers his address during the opening of John Moorman Memorial Library exhibition at the Anglican Centre in Rome. | Neil Turner/Lambeth Palace

By Andrew Grosso

During a brief address at the Anglican Centre in Rome on September 30, the Archbishop of Canterbury expressed confidence about ecumenical dialogue.

“We are not in an ecumenical winter,” Archbishop Justin Welby said. “We are in a spring.”

The archbishop, who was in Rome to pray with Pope Francis at the start of the Vatican’s Synod on Synodality, made his remarks at the opening of Sharing Treasures and Inspiration, an exhibition celebrating the 50-year legacy of the center’s John Moorman Library.

The archbishop suggested the exhibition related a story that begins with the prayer of Jesus that his disciples would be one (John 17:20-21), continues through the pain caused by divisions within the church, and the hope that emerges from efforts to overcome those divisions. The story looks to a future in which the members of Christ’s body serve one another and together serve the world in his name.

John Moorman played a decisive role in the history of the Anglican Centre. During his tenure as the Bishop of Ripon, Moorman attended the Second Vatican Council and later served as chairman of the working group that led to the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission. The center is in many ways an outgrowth of Moorman’s work as an ecumenist, and the exhibition sought to highlight his contributions — not only to dialogue and cooperation between Christian traditions but to Anglican ecclesiology, Franciscan studies, and church history.

Bishop John Moorman visits with Pope Paul VI during the Second Vatican Council. | The Vatican

The center’s director, the Most Rev. Ian Ernest, described the exhibition as an effort to bear witness to Anglicanism’s unique way of expressing “what it means to be a follower of Jesus,” both in the past and today.

In his remarks at the exhibition’s opening, Ernest highlighted the ways the exhibition and the center embody Anglicanism’s commitment to Christian unity and cooperative mission and ministry in and to the world. The exhibition was intended to raise the profile of the center as a place of prayer, study, dialogue, and pilgrimage.

The exhibition was supported by several other institutions, including the Lambeth Palace Library, Gladstone’s Library in Hawarden, North Wales, the Venerable English College in Rome, the Centro Pro Unione in Rome, and Friends of Ripon Cathedral.

The Rev. Andrew Grosso is senior associate for worship and discipleship at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, Dallas.


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