The Vatican’s foreign minister has said ecumenism between Christian churches should no longer be described as an “internal Christian affair” but has become a “moral imperative” due to the precariousness of the global political system, NCR Online reports.
Speaking in a ceremony on Thursday for the inauguration of the Anglican Communion’s new representative in Rome, Archbishop Paul Gallagher – a former nuncio to Australia – said “our world faces today an unprecedented number of challenges on every front.”
“Some have tended to see ecumenical endeavour as a question of church, or as an internal Christian affair in which our unity will be good for the growth or even survival of Christ’s church,” said Archbishop Gallagher, the Secretary for Relations with States at the Vatican’s Secretariat of State.
“Given all we face today, given the urgency and precariousness of our situation I would argue rather that ecumenical engagement is a moral imperative for all of us who are baptised in the name of the Blessed Trinity,” Archbishop Gallagher continued.
“We must proceed together as the one Body of Christ, not because it will be nice or cozy to do so but because we have to in response to the pressing needs of humanity.”
The Archbishop was speaking in a homily at an ecumenical evensong ceremony at Rome’s Oratory of San Francesco Saverio del Caravita for the inauguration of Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s new personal representative to the Holy See, who also serves as the director of Rome’s Anglican Centre.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, head of the global Anglican Communion, was present for the event, during which he formally commissioned Archbishop Ntahoturi, who is from Burundi, into his role.
Archbishop Gallagher spoke about ecumenical engagement in the context of the recent decades of relationship between the Church and the Anglican Communion, following the first public meeting between a Pope and an Archbishop of Canterbury in 1966.
He also pointed to a special connection he shares with Archbishop Ntahoturi, having served as the Vatican’s apostolic nuncio to Burundi from 2004-09.