Did you ever wonder why the world is the way it is? Or what your purpose in life is? Or what good is the church? Or why there are so many religions? Or whether things will be okay?
People have been asking big, existential questions like these for a long time. Members of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue of Canada (ARC Canada) are asking them again—and offering some responses—in a new ecumenical common witness initiative called “Did You Ever Wonder…”: Small Answers to Big Questions.
“With this project, our national Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue is attempting something new: how can we witness to our commonly held faith together?” explained Anglican co-chair Bishop Linda Nicholls.
“Any dialogue begins with a perception of difference,” added ARC Canada’s Roman Catholic co-chair, Bishop Donald Bolen. “We became increasingly focussed, however, on ways in which Anglicans and Roman Catholics could address people in our culture with a common voice.”
In a series of video reflections, members of ARC Canada offer responses to a dozen “big questions,” drawing on five decades of theological agreement achieved between Roman Catholics and Anglicans. Bishop Nicholls said the process of working on the reflections together helped bring these theological agreed statements to life, as dialogue members participated in “the lived experience of realizing how much indeed we hold in common as Roman Catholics and Anglicans.”
Each of the video reflections concludes with discussion questions, and the texts can be downloaded and reproduced for use in groups. The texts have also been translated into French.
“This resource is intended for widespread and general use, but it may be especially helpful for those who are pastors, chaplains, pastoral workers, school teachers, faith group leaders, parents, grandparents, or parish or home catechists,” said Julien Hammond, coordinator for ecumenical and interfaith relations in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton, and a member of ARC Canada.
“In campus ministry contexts, these essays in video form could be the starting point for discussions on these important existential questions,” added Caitlin Reilley Beck, children and youth ministries coordinator in the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster, and also an ARC Canada member. “Young adults, particularly those engaged in university education, are often wrestling with these kinds of questions.”
The “Did You Ever Wonder…” project emerges out of a desire by both churches to articulate the Christian faith to a new generation, and a realization that the one faith Anglicans and Roman Catholics share can be more effectively and credibly witnessed to together.
Formed in 1971, the Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue of Canada is the official forum of theological encounter between the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Anglican Church of Canada. It continues to address doctrinal, ecclesiological, and pastoral differences between the two churches. However, through projects like “Did You Ever Wonder…” it also strives to help both churches live into the significant level of agreement on matters of faith that has already been achieved.
The work of an ecumenical dialogue conversation is documented in the agreed statements and reports that it issues. The statements and reports represent the views of the participants. Although the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) is represented on these dialogues and conversations, the texts have not been officially endorsed by the CCCB nor do they necessarily have the approval of the Catholic Bishops of Canada or of the Anglican Church of Canada.
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