My last night in Rome, I attended Bishop Graham Kings’s lecture on the back story of Evangelical Anglican relations, especially on the back story of the warm relations between John Stott and several Roman Catholic prelates. It was “Evangelical Catholic and Catholic Evangelical Theologies of Mission.” Alas, I dropped my copy of the Italian version! That I could partially read it still gave me satisfaction.
To distort somewhat the bishop’s scholarship, the back story is that men who seek Jesus recognize and respect their counterparts, and that friendships deliberately cultivated open doors to find language to work together and move toward unity. The lecture was at the Pontifical Urbaniana University that sits at the top of the hill over the Vatican. The Dean (Rector) of the University attended and warmly came and greeted me afterwards. I looked around to see a young generation of Roman Catholic priests and seminarians, more than half clearly from Africa and Asia. I came away thinking how fast schism can happen and how slowly church reconciliation happens. When it happens it springs from a very small group of determined thinkers, both men and women, who seek to mend the rips in the Body of Christ.
Mending the rips, indeed. My life story.
I wonder if I will ever get to the point personally — and if our ecclesiastical and secular worlds will ever get to that point with me — that we do less ripping in the first place, so ultimately we have less mending to do and more energy for creating….
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