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Shared French Lessons In Mercy And Forgiveness

The French Anglican – Roman Catholic Committee met for its annual three-day meeting in Paris earlier this month. Fr Matthew Harrison writes;

“Inspired by the ‘Year of Mercy’ currently being celebrated by the world-wide Catholic Church, the committee looked at the different practices in the two churches concerning the celebration of penitence and forgiveness and the mercy of God. This included looking at the sacrament of confession. In the past this was rather limited to the catholic wing of the Anglican tradition, despite being in the 1662 Prayer Book. Now, while total numbers making use of this rite have been in decline, its use is now no longer limited to a particular church tradition.

“In fact the subject proved to be quite topical as the week before the Archbishop of Canterbury was quoted in the Daily Telegraph commending its wider use (‘Catholic’ confession is good for the soul – says Archbishop of Canterbury 7/4/16) and talking of his own practice over the last ten years: ‘through it God releases forgiveness and absolution and a sense of cleansing’, said the Archbishop adding that it could be an ‘enormously powerful’ experience.

“Also on the agenda was the evaluation of the reception of its document ‘O Lord open our lips’ published last year (European Anglican Autumn 2015) about Morning and Evening Prayer and how those offices might be used for joint worship when communities from the two confessions share church buildings, as is often the case in France.

“The committee is the official body looking after the excellent relations between Anglicans and Roman Catholics that exist in France. It is currently co-chaired by Monseigneur Robert Le Gall, Archbishop of Toulouse, and the Rev’d Canon Matthew Harrison, Chaplain of St George’s, Paris.

“At dinner, the committee took time to thank Deacon Joanne Dauphin (pictured above) of the American Cathedral, Paris, for her many years of service on the committee. Her place has been taken by Fr Robert Warren, rector of the Episcopal parish of Clermont-Ferrand.”