At the Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue held recently in Mississauga, representatives from both churches greeted the muddle over the Anglican Governor General of Canada having taken communion in the Roman Catholic church with equanimity.
Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan, director of faith, worship and ministry, said both sides agreed the episode was “an instance of the reality in Canada with the Roman Catholics governed by rules from Rome.”
After wide media coverage of a photo of Governor General Adrienne Clarkson taking communion in a Roman Catholic service, Marcel Gervais, Roman Catholic archbishop of Ottawa, wrote a public response in an Ottawa newspaper which some Anglicans found insulting.
Members of the dialogue have decided to produce a pamphlet for times when both faiths are at eucharist together, “explaining the practices of each church about who can receive communion,” said Ms. Barnett-Cowan. The dialogue will also produce a brochure for Anglican/Roman Catholic couples considering marriage.
Ms. Barnett-Cowan is also a member of the Joint Anglican Lutheran Commission, which met recently to examine matters of jurisdiction.
“For example, that means what happens if an Anglican is serving in a Lutheran congregation? Can they be part of the Lutheran convention and be eligible to be elected a Lutheran bishop, and vice versa?” she asked.
The commission has also surveyed theological colleges to determine how they are preparing students for the “new reality of shared ministry.”
Meanwhile, for the first time since the end of the plan of union talks in the 1970s, the Anglican and United churches in Canada have begun a dialogue about their relationship.
The Vancouver School of Theology was chosen as the locale of the talks in mid-February because it was the product of “earlier ecumenical co-operation between the two churches, along with the Presbyterian Church in Canada,” said a press release.
Ms. Barnett-Cowan said that the renewal of talks is not intended to lead to a partnership such as that developed with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.
The major task at the first meeting was to identify areas of mutual interest and concern, the release said. These were core theological affirmations, sacramental theology, missiology and witness, shared ministries and indigenous issues and relationships.