Love, Respect, and Dialogue in the Midst of Difference

posted Oct 7, 2016, 10:13 AM by Amelia Fannin   [ updated Nov 10, 2016, 5:10 PM ]

Division is tiresome; it wears us out and wears us down. This election cycle is taking its toll on us, and not only because of what is at stake with two Presidential candidates whose vision of and for America is so radically opposed. Especially exhausting are the disagreements between family members, friends, and, of course, Facebook friends and “friends of friends,” especially for those few poor souls who happen to have real diversity of belief and political leanings among their friends.

One bright spot for me this week is the Common Declaration by Pope Francis and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby (the head of the global Anglican Communion, of which The Episcopal Church is a part), released yesterday, celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the meeting of Pope Paul VI and Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey. This document affirms our common faith in Christ in the midst of significant differences. (Once, in meeting with a couple coming to the Episcopal Church from the Roman Catholic Church, they asked me to list all the differences between the two churches. Let’s just say it took a while.)

What I loved about this Common Declaration is that is does not gloss over our differences and disagreements about theology, authority in the Church, and other matters. In fact, it even acknowledges that in the last few years, we’ve added some new disagreements! And yet it strongly affirms, Wider and deeper than our differences are the faith that we share and our common joy in the Gospel. Christ prayed that his disciples may all be one, “so that the world might believe” (John17: 21).” Then they list some of the incredibly significant views we hold in common:

“The world must see us witnessing to this common faith in Jesus by acting together. We can, and must, work together to protect and preserve our common home: living, teaching and acting in ways that favour a speedy end to the environmental destruction that offends the Creator and degrades his creatures, and building individual and collective patterns of behaviour that foster a sustainable and integral development for the good of all. We can, and must, be united in a common cause to uphold and defend the dignity of all people. The human person is demeaned by personal and societal sin. In a culture of indifference, walls of estrangement isolate us from others, their struggles and their suffering, which also many of our brothers and sisters in Christ today endure. In a culture of waste, the lives of the most vulnerable in society are often marginalised and discarded. In a culture of hate we see unspeakable acts of violence, often justified by a distorted understanding of religious belief. Our Christian faith leads us to recognise the inestimable worth of every human life, and to honour it in acts of mercy by bringing education, healthcare, food, clean water and shelter and always seeking to resolve conflict and build peace. As disciples of Christ we hold human persons to be sacred, and as apostles of Christ we must be their advocates.”

You may read the whole Declaration here.

May God bless the shared ministry between Roman Catholic and Anglican churches around the globe. And, may God bless, keep, and heal America in this time of great decision.

In Christ,