Hong Kong, 28 April - 5 May 2019


On behalf of the Roman Catholic Church the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity sends warm greetings to all of you gathered for this 17th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council.

The passage chosen for the Bible Study of your meeting, the Road to Emmaus, echoes an image used to describe the relationship between Anglicans and Catholics that can be found in three recent ecumenical documents. It is the image of disciples journeying together with Christ.

In their Common Declaration of 2016 Archbishop Justin and Pope Francis wrote, “We have become partners and companions on our pilgrim journey, facing the same difficulties, and strengthening each other by learning to value the gifts which God has given to the other, and to receive them as our own in humility and gratitude.”

At the evening prayer in the Church of San Gregorio, Rome, at which Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin signed that Common Declaration, they sent out nineteen pairs of bishops, Catholic and Anglican, in “collaborative mission and witness to the ‘ends of the earth’”. These pairs of bishops together form the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM). Their commissioning marked the highpoint of their pilgrimage to Canterbury and Rome. At the end of this pilgrimage the bishops issued their own statement entitled, Walking Together: Common Service to the World and Witness to the Gospel,  in which they reflect on their experience. They write, “Like  the  disciples  on  the  road  to  Emmaus,  we  have  caught  glimpses  of  the  truth  that  when  we  walk together humbly and honestly, the Risen Lord walks with us, and the Holy Spirit, who so deeply desires our reconciliation, guides us.”

This spirit of walking together humbly and honestly has been taken up in the most recent agreed statement of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), entitled Walking Together on the Way: Learning to be the Church- Local, Regional, Universal. The commission looked at the Church local, regional and universal, and in each case asked where tensions were experienced within the structures of our respective communions, and how we can learn from each other to renew and enrich the communion that we live. The method of the document is one of “receptive learning”, the idea being that we can learn how to be God’s people from each other. This learning requires us to admit the need for reform in our ecclesial lives. It also demands that we acknowledge the work of the Holy Spirit in the other, and that we discern the presence of Christ in the other.

Accepting your generous invitation to participate in this Anglican Consultative Council shows the desire of the Catholic Church to walk “humbly and honestly” with our Anglican brothers and sisters. We acknowledge that, like Clopas and his companion, our gaze is often downcast, our vision impaired, and our understanding of what the Lord has done is limited. However, like the IARCCUM bishops, Catholics know that when we walk together with our Anglican brothers and sisters “the Risen Lord walks with us”. And like ARCIC, Catholics acknowledge that we can learn from what the Holy Spirit has sown in the Anglican Communion. As Walking Together on the Way teaches, “each  tradition   has   much   to   learn   and  receive  as  we  journey  towards a reconciled Church that  can  at  once  be  a  more  effective  sacrament  of  and  witness  to  the  communion  of the Trinity” (WTW §124).

Please be assured of my prayers for you throughout the days of your meeting as you discern what it means to be faithful disciples of Christ in today’s world. May your meeting be fruitful, and may it bear fruit in each of the Anglican provinces around the world.

Yours in Christ,

Kurt Cardinal Koch