Conversely, he said, relations with the Anglican Communion have been made more difficult in recent times by their stance on “moral questions and questions regarding life issues.”
But Bishop Farrell is not overly pessimistic. He thinks that such hurdles “make dialogue more difficult but at the same time more intense, and we must continue.”
In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI paved the way for the creation of “personal ordinariates” within the Catholic Church. They are a home for former Anglicans who wish to maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church.
Two ordinariates have been created since the Pope made his announcement in 2009. They are the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in England and Wales, and the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter in the United States, which was created Jan. 1, 2012.
“Well, I think, like all things, you have to give it a chance to work itself out,” said Bishop Farrell of the Anglican ordinariates concept.
“It’s only at the very beginning and I think that Anglicans generally understand that the Catholic Church has decided to allow this, or create this ordinariate, precisely because some Anglicans have asked for it.”
“In that sense,” he said, “it is partly ecumenical … these are Anglicans who want to become Catholics.” At the same time, Bishop Farrell said, “it is no longer an ecumenical question but a question of their personal conviction.”
In recent years the cultural changes of the West have also led to a new ecumenical phenomenon of Catholics and evangelical Christians joining forces in addressing the many social and moral issues that have presented themselves.
“On life issues, on moral issues, we are very much in harmony with them – or they with us,” said Bishop Farrell. But, he qualified, “on ecclesiological issues we are very distant” because “we have radically different ideas of what the Church is and how it should be organized.”
Bishops Farrell thinks that “people may be surprised to know” the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity has been in “continuous dialogue” with various evangelical groups, including Pentecostals, over the past 30 years.
And this dialogue has led to “some very interesting results,” he said.
(Story continues below)
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Bishop Farrell said that describing a unified Christian Church would be “very difficult” to do, but “theologically speaking, one thing is certain it will have to do with the point at which we can celebrate the Eucharist together.”