Failure of ecumenism would imprison mercy, Anglican archbishop says

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

Italy (CNS) — Churches that are not reconciled with one another weaken the
experience of mercy that unites believers to God and with each other, Anglican
Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury said.

By not reconciling
with one other, “our worship is diminished and our capacity to grow close
together with God is reduced,” he said Sept. 20 in Assisi during a
discussion on ecumenism.

failure of ecumenism imprisons mercy and prevents its liberation and its power
with one another,” he said.

Speaking before Pope Francis arrived in Assisi for
an interreligious peace meeting, Archbishop Welby joined other Christian
leaders exploring how love, charity and mercy help foster peace and
unity among Christian denominations.

Mercy is the
“engine of reconciliation,” Archbishop Welby said, and it is “the source
of our capacity for the evangelization of the world in which we live.”

begins with the mercy that each of us experiences in the sacrament of reconciliation; the
knowledge that we ourselves are accepted,” he said.

Suffering and martyrdom, the archbishop added, also unite Christians and are
a visible sign of ecumenism for the world.

“If we
do not suffer together, we do not know the meaning of the ecumenism of
mercy,” he said. “When they kill us, they do not ask if we are
Anglican, Presbyterian, Catholic or Orthodox; we are one in Christ for them. So
why are we divided when they are not killing us?”

Jesus’ prayer “that they may be one so that the world may know that I come
from the Father,” Archbishop Welby said that the evangelization of the
world “depends on that ecumenism of mercy.”

While they may have theological
differences, he said,
Christians must learn to “disagree well” and “learn to love one
another with good disagreement.”

depends on the visible sign of love and unity. If not, churches will be unable
“to carry out Jesus’ command to go out into the world,” he said.

depends on the world seeing visibly that we belong to one another and that we
love one another,” Archbishop Welby said. “Without that, we have
nothing to say to a world that is incapable of resolving its own differences.”

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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