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"Sons and Daughters of Benedict:" in conversation with two ecumenists

Posted on: September 1, 2017 9:49 AM

[Bernadette Kehoe, ACNS] In a sermon marking the feast of St Benedict earlier this year, the Director of Unity, Faith and Order of the Anglican Communion, Canon John Gibaut, referred to all Christians as “sons and daughters of Benedict.” This prompted ACNS to invite Canon John to take part in a conversation on ecumenical progress with a Benedictine monk and leading Roman Catholic Biblical scholar, Fr Henry Wansbrough.

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The dialogue took place in the glorious setting of Ampleforth Abbey in northern England where Fr Henry has been a monk for over 60 years. Fr Henry regularly leads pilgrimages to the Holy Land and despite being in his eighties he still runs regularly and is also a keen gardener and singer. Interestingly, Fr Henry’s mother was Jewish before converting to Catholicism; his father was Anglican, his grandfather was an Anglican vicar and his great grandfather was the first Anglican bishop in Brisbane, Australia. This, says Fr Henry, has given him “well spread tentacles.”

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Canadian Canon John Gibaut has served on several national and international ecumenical dialogues and commissions. He is the Anglican co-secretary of ARCIC, the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission and Fr Henry is a Catholic member of the dialogue.

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Last October, fifty years after ARCIC was created, ecumenical relations received a powerful, symbolic boost when the Archbishop of Canterbury and Pope Francis held a joint service of Vespers in Rome. The service took place in the Church of San Gregorio Magno al Celio, from where Pope Gregory sent Augustine to evangelise the Anglo-Saxon people.

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Catholic and Anglican Bishops from all over the world were present - as were Canon John and Bernadette Kehoe of ACNS, who introduces 'In Conversation:'

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Inspecting a medieval tile from Westminster: Ampleforth claims descent from the pre-reformation community at Westminster Abbey