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Ecumenical bishop proposed: CEN 5.23.08 p 8. May 26, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Ecclesiology, Old Catholic Union of Utrecht.

A proposal for an ecumenical bishop shared by Anglicans and Old Catholics in Europe animated the discussions of last month’s Anglican – Old Catholic International Coordinating Council (AOCICC) meeting in Germany.

Anglican delegates led by the Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt. Rev. Jonathan Gledhill met with representatives of the Old Catholic Church in Schloss Beuggen from April 14-18 to review the state of ecumenical affairs between the two churches.

In 1931 the two Churches endorsed the Bonn Agreement establishing “inter-communion”, and in 1958 entered into “full communion.” While the Bonn Agreement does not enumerate common theological beliefs, it does affirm the catholicity and autonomy of each church. A bishop representing the Old Catholic Churches historically has attended the Lambeth Conferences, while Anglican and Old Catholic clergy have been cross-licensed in Europe.

At the Schoss Beuggen meeting the delegates reviewed a draft statement of common ecclesiology and debated a proposal for the vacant Old Catholic see of Deventer in the Netherlands to become a shared episcopate. Details of the joint episcopate were not released, however.

While the Bishops of the United Churches of North and South India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are members of the Anglican Communion and other world reformed bodies, they are bishops of churches that belong to more than one jurisdiction. The joint Anglican-Old Catholic bishopric would place the office of bishop in the dual role—a project not attempted since the short-lived Anglican-Lutheran bishop in Jerusalem.

From 1841 to 1881 Prussia and Britain shared a common bishop for mission stations in the Ottoman Empire, with the appointment of the bishop alternating between London and Berlin. The Anglo-Prussian Union lapsed, however, due to political tensions between the two countries and Anglo-Catholic concerns over the apostolic succession of Prussian Lutheran episcopal orders.

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