The chairperson of the governors of the Anglican Centre in Rome, Bishop Stephen Patten, has invited the Roman Catholic church to allow more freedom of expression in theological dialogue. “Catholics say Anglicans do not have a clear enough structure on authority, and I agree that there are areas it ought to be better. But I also believe the Catholic church should exercise its authority in a much more collegial way,” said Bishop Patten, the Anglican bishop of Wakefield in England. “Many Anglicans would be pleased to have a central figure – just like the Pope – in the church, but they want its role to be more collegial also.”
During a two-day visit to Hong Kong on Oct. 20-21, Bishop Patten held a seminar at the Anglican Cathedral of St. John, briefing some 50 Anglicans and Catholics about the ecumenical mission of the Rome centre.
The bishop emphasized there were many positive factors in Anglican-Catholic dialogue, but there are also some difficulties.
“I believe the tradition of faith could be better understood if people were allowed to have reasonable dialogue theologically in the Christian community,” Bishop Patten said. He had a feeling that outside the confines of the church, dialogue among Catholics was not encouraged. “We would like to see much more freedom of expression.”
The bishop said the Anglican Centre in Rome would be a vital instrument to promote the growing relationship between Anglicans and Catholics.
The Anglican Centre in Rome was set up in 1966 with the encouragement of Pope Paul VI and Michael Ramsey, the then-Archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion.