Magazine article Anglican Journal

An Anglican Bishop in the Vatican

Magazine article Anglican Journal

An Anglican Bishop in the Vatican

Article excerpt

Bishop Tim Thornton of the diocese of Truro in the Church of England is the co-chair for the Anglican-Roman Catholic Committee in England, and serves on the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Council for Unity and Mission. Last October, he travelled to Rome to observe the Vatican's Synod of Bishops on the Family as one of the 14 fraternal delegates--members of other denominations invited to observe the synod. In an interview with the Anglican Journal, he talks about what he experienced. Excerpts:

How did you become a fraternal delegate? When the Pope calls a synod, he for some time now, has graciously invited ecumenical delegates to... observe and to some extent participate... An invitation came from the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity to the Archbishop of Canterbury to send somebody [to represent] the Anglican Communion, and the Archbishop asked if I would take that role.

It is not an ongoing responsibility... It is a great privilege.

What was your experience of the synod?

It was a very interesting experience to... observe another denomination at fairly close quarters.

Was there an interest in hearing your perspective on conversations now happening in the Anglican church around human sexuality and church order?

Yes... I felt... people were pleased that there was an Anglican observer there. All the fraternal delegates were given, as with every other synod, a three-minute opportunity to speak in the main synod hall... All the fraternal delegates were [members] of the small groups.

This time around... small-group work took a high role in the whole synod, and in those groups I was able to speak just as openly as anyone else.

What is the value of observing and participating in other denominations' synods?

It builds relationships; it helps people understand each other and how different churches understand different ways of working... I think it's very insightful for all concerned... It's very honest of the Roman Catholic Church to want to hear other Christian denominations speaking into their context.

Do you think the Anglican church can learn from conversations the Catholic church is having?

Yes... we can always learn from each other! I was particularly intrigued by the universality of the Roman Catholic Church. One thing I learned... was that in my world, in the Church of England... our horizons are too narrow. …

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