Anglican primate initiates ‘serious dialogue’ with Pope Paul in historic visit to Vatican

Forty-three Popes and thirty-two Archbishops of Canterbury have held office since the last time an English primate paid an “official” visit to the Vatican. In welcoming Dr. Arthur Michael Ramsey to Rome last month, Paul VI spoke of the bridge being rebuilt between their two churches.

“Your steps,” the pontiff told his visitor, “do not resound in a strange house. They come to a home which you, for every valid reason, can call your own.”

Though a joint declaration following the encounter reflected symbolic rather than practical results, the archbishop evidently was delighted at the inauguration of “serious dialogue founded on the Gospels and on ancient common traditions.” Regarding the validity of Anglican orders, Ramsey said both sides recognized the importance of this subject; however, he said, they agreed not to discuss it in isolation but in the general context of discussions. On the papal decree on mixed marriages last month, the archbishop said he had indicated clearly in Rome that it would not satisfy the consciences of Anglican Christians. He expressed hope that this was not intended as a final settlement.

One of the meetings with the pontiff was in the Sistine Chapel, where popes are elected and where dead popes lie beneath Michelangelo’s “Last Judgment” the night before their burial. Here, said an English Jesuit, “it is easier to grasp that ecumenism means neither bargaining nor power politics, but the death of pride and humble submission to the Gospel.”

Upon returning to England, Ramsey enhanced his reputation as an artful dodger of pointed questions. Asked if he would like to see the pope visit England, he replied that he did not advise the pope on where he should make his visits. Just as neatly he ducked questions on the supremacy of the pope and papal infallibility.

The trip to Rome did not go unprotested. Five British Protestants, members of the International Council of Christian Churches, traveled on the plane with Ramsey. The result was a certain edginess and emphasis on security that did no good for the ecumenical cause. Neither did an incident in which two of the five dissidents, both Ulster Presbyterians, were refused permission to enter Italy, ostensibly because of a 1962 incident in which they were found distributing Bibles there.

“We are Protestant ministers,” said the Rev. Brian Green, a Baptist from

London. “There does not seem to be any liberty here to state our convictions.” He was one of the three allowed to stay. All three were later ejected from an Anglican church in Rome when Ramsey was celebrating communion.

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“We did not shout nor did we interrupt the service,” Green said. “But as soon as we took off our coats to reveal our protest waistcoats, detectives pounced.”

The waistcoats carried inscriptions condemning the visit as a betrayal of Protestantism. The men were detained at a police station for 3½ hours.

The two expellees, as they were being led away earlier, had shouted: “Rome is opposed to the Bible. You will have to tear these shirts from us. Do you want us to take off our trousers? Hallelujah, we are being thrown out because we are Protestants. What a blow for the Vatican Council.”

The protesters represented a tiny minority. More typical of evangelical reaction to the archbishop’s visit was the comment of Anglican Canon Thomas C. Livermore: “The whole point of the Reformation was the difference between Catholic dogma and Bible truth, and these differences remain. Nothing more can be done until they are resolved.”

Highlights Of The Encounter

The meeting between the Archbishop of Canterbury and Pope Paul VI was regarded as historic in a special sense. Not since 1397, when Pope Boniface IX received Archbishop Arundel, had an Anglican primate conferred officially with a Roman Catholic pontiff. Dr. Michael Ramsey’s predecessor, Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher, saw Pope John XXIII in 1960, but that visit was regarded as “a courtesy call.” By contrast, Ramsey greeted Pope Paul “in my office as Archbishop of Canterbury and as president of the Lambeth Conference of Bishops.”

In their initial meeting in the Sistine Chapel, Paul and Ramsey embraced in what was described as a “kiss of peace.” Then they read formal statements stressing the desirability and great difficulties of Christian unity. Millions of Europeans watched via television. Later, the two talked privately for sixty-five minutes.

The archbishop and the pontiff met again the following day in a joint prayer service at the Basilica of St. Paul’s-Outside-the-Walls. They issued a joint declaration that was read at the con-conclusion of the service. The declaration indicated plans to establish a mixed commission of Roman Catholics and Anglicans to work for Christian unity.

On his way back to London, Ramsey made a twenty-five-hour stopover in Geneva to confer with officials of the World Council of Churches and other ecumenical organizations headquartered there. He was welcomed at the airport by Dr. W. A. Visser ’t Hooft, retiring general secretary of the WCC.

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Prior to his trip, Ramsey issued a qualified endorsement of the efforts of evangelist Billy Graham, who plans a month-long crusade in London in June. In the April issue of his Canterbury Diocesan Notes, the archbishop wrote:

“I should explain that the Church of England and the diocese in the London area had no official share in the invitation to him, and it is well known that there are different views about Dr. Graham’s methods and the nature of his message. But many people from a variety of parishes are likely to be going to the campaign meetings and it is the wish of Dr. Graham that persons who have been influenced by his message shall be commended to the ministry of the church which they attend or of the parish where they live. It is important that the clergy of every tradition should be ready to welcome those who may be referred to them in this way, and should help them to fulfill their new resolves in the service of God and in the fellowship of the church. Whatever we think of the theology and methods of mass evangelism, we must with thankfulness and love help those whose hearts and consciences have been moved. We shall pray that God will bless and use all that is done, both in campaigns and in the constant witness of Christian people, to bring people to the knowledge of Christ.”

The Dirksen Amendment

“Nothing contained in this Constitution shall prohibit the authority administering any school, school system, educational institution or other public building supported in whole or in part through the expenditure of public funds from providing for or permitting the voluntary participation by students or others in prayer. Nothing contained in this article shall authorize any such authority to prescribe the form or content of any prayer.”

These are the words proposed as an amendment to the Constitution by U. S. Senator Everett M. Dirksen. In introducing the legislation last month, Dirksen cited Supreme Court decisions against classroom devotional exercises. “I do not propose to reverse the court,” he said. “I do propose a clarification so that these decisions and their possible implications will not hover over every teacher, principal, and educator.”

Sunday School On Monday

United Presbyterians plan to eliminate the traditional Sunday school by 1968, replacing it with two separate sessions during the week.

The denomination’s Board of Christian Education says its major new program also will introduce philosophical concepts at an earlier age, play down rote memorization, encourage new training for teachers, and stress lifetime study of Christianity to counter teen-age dropouts.

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Ecumenism, Baptist Style

How can Baptists, that much-fragmented branch of Christians, get together? Joint evangelism was the method most often mentioned last month at the first meeting of the North American Fellowship of the Baptist World Alliance.

Baptists are very skittish about authority, and this new “fellowship” has no power of its own. But a continent-wide agency under the Baptist World Alliance is a significant advance in Baptist cooperation. And since 85 per cent of the world’s 27 million Baptists live in North America, it represents potential for an important religious force.

The fellowship presently includes six bodies with 12.8 million members. If the four other North American groups in the Baptist World Alliance also join, the constituency will be 21 million.

The organization grew out of the Baptist Jubilee Advance, a 150th anniversary observance that first broke walls of separation between most Baptist groups. Southern Baptists tabled participation in 1964 but signed up last year. The initial meeting in Washington, D. C., was friendly in tone.

A spokesman for one group presently outside the fellowship, Gunnar Hoglund of the Baptist General Conference, said Chicago Baptists of various conventions and races had never cooperated until Billy Graham came to town. Discussions about Red China and other political problems are all very interesting, he said, but “the mission of the Church is theological, and evangelism is primary.” He added that “there is no room for clannishness, especially when we are all in allegiance to Christ,” and that if adults don’t “build bridges” among churches, young people will.

The Rev. J. T. Ford, a Southern Baptist from Alexandria, Virginia, said that just coming together for “fellowship” doesn’t work. “Fellowship improves by participation in action; it is a byproduct of something in which you share.… Evangelism seems to be the thing that brings us together easiest.”

Manifesto In The Making

A major statement of evangelical consensus is being developed this week by some 1,000 influential representatives of the Protestant missionary task force. An initial draft of the document chides evangelicals for often neglecting to cooperate and challenges their failure to develop biblical approaches to the problems of war, racism, poverty, and the population explosion.

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Leaders of an unprecedented eight-day Congress on the Church’s Worldwide Mission hope to sharpen the draft document after extended discussion and to win official approval of it from congress delegates. It is tentatively tagged the “Wheaton Declaration,” since the congress is being held at Wheaton (Illinois) College.

The first draft covers twenty-one typewritten pages, single spaced. It seeks to set forth a common evangelical view on crucial contemporary issues that affect implementation of the Great Commission.

The congress is the biggest and most representative meeting of evangelical missionary leaders ever held. It was called jointly by the Interdenominational Foreign Mission Association and the Evangelical Foreign Missions Association. These two groups represent about 100 missionary boards with some 13,000 missionaries. An additional fifty evangelical societies and 125 evangelical schools received invitations.

The proposed declaration asserts that evangelicals have shied away from biblically based social concern for fear it would lead to a social gospel. The draft affirms the Bible as inerrant and calls the evangelistic mandate the supreme task of the Church. It encourages prayer for the blessing of God upon all Roman Catholics as they study the Scriptures.

This drew accord from the executive secretary of the National Baptist Convention of Mexico, the Rev. Roberto Porras Maynes, who suggested that the fellowship back the 1969 “Crusade of the Americas” proposed by Brazilian Baptists. Later, the plan got an impassioned boost from the Rev. Wayne Dehoney, president of the Southern Baptists, who had visited Brazil earlier this year. He reported that in two years, 250,000 Baptists there secured 100,000 professions of faith and started 300 new churches and 3,500 new mission stations, and that they expect a doubled enrollment in their four seminaries.

General Secretary R. Fred Bullen of the Baptist Federation of Canada said his group of three geographical conventions decided in February to join in the hemisphere-wide evangelistic drive if other North Americans did. The fellowship committee then voted to recommend the 1969 project to member denominations.

After the vote, the Rev. Edwin H. Tuller, general secretary of the American Baptist Convention, said that at the risk of being misunderstood, he wanted to explain that the ABC would be cautious about joining such a crusade. Tuller said the Jubilee Advance and other cooperative ventures had stressed evangelism to the near-exclusion of the Church’s other tasks. “We’re not opposed to evangelism,” he said, “but it is a very limited diet. I wonder if we can ever get beyond this one thing.”

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First Stop: Watts

The nation’s 20 million Negroes are winning a host of new freedoms, but spiritual oppression still hangs heavy over the ghettos. The National Negro Evangelical Association, born out of the civil rights revolution, aims to battle that oppression from a biblical base.

A Long Island radio preacher challenged the NNEA this way: “President Johnson is trying to give the world what they want. We have what they need.”

In a survey of American Negro need, the invariable first stop is Los Angeles and Watts, scene of bloody riots last August. So NNEA has chosen Watts for its first major project. A counseling center is to be established there with help from the National Association of Evangelicals, with which the NNEA is affiliated. There has also been talk of an evangelistic crusade in Watts this summer, but the idea thus far has failed to attract enough support. The NNEA seeks to promote evangelism among Negroes and to encourage missionary recruitment.

NNEA leaders keep close tab on Watts, inasmuch as their organization has its roots in the Los Angeles area. The NNEA was founded there three years ago, and five of its fifteen directors are from Los Angeles or nearby, including Executive Secretary Jeremiah Rowe, Jamaica-born pastor of an Evangelical United Brethren church.

The NNEA’s scope, however, reaches from coast to coast and even abroad. Fourteen states were represented among the more than eighty influential Negro evangelicals who registered for the third annual convention last month. They met for five cordial days in Cleveland’s Union Avenue Alliance Church, home of the famed Cleveland Colored Quintet. Delegates were told that sixty missionary boards had responded favorably when asked whether they sought Negro candidates. The convention was highlighted by an inspirational missionary rally before an overflow crowd.

The Rev. Howard O. Jones, an associate of Billy Graham, was named president of the NNEA. Jones, author of a new book relating evangelical convictions to the race question, feels many a Negro minister has neglected preaching of the Gospel in favor of civil rights action. He says that as a result the civil rights movement has created a spiritual vacuum.

“We are sympathetic to the civil rights movement,” he says. “But you can’t feed the soul on civil rights manna. Our first mission is redemptive.”

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Jones succeeds Marvin Printis, 34, who chaired the NNEA’s first board meeting and has served as president ever since. He was born in Illinois and graduated from Wheaton College and Fuller Theological Seminary. A diligent administrator, Printis is credited with having done much of the spadework in bringing the NNEA into being. He is a bachelor currently living in San Marino, California.

Printis observes that for many years the old saw was that Negroes needed to be educated. Now, he says, it is the white segregationists who need to be educated to the fact of the Negro’s equality.

‘Bad Faith’ By Realtors?

Realtors oppose “fair housing” laws; religious leaders generally favor them as essential for ending racial bias in sale and rental of housing. But both agree that voluntary, educational efforts are needed to break down residential barriers. An effort to have both sides join in a “Statement of Accord” on voluntary approaches has been shattered.

Representatives of the National Council of Churches, National Catholic Welfare Conference, and Synagogue Council of America last month charged “bad faith” by the National Association of Real Estate Boards, the giant of realty, which proposed negotiations six months ago.

The “Accord” proposal was written January 21, but two weeks later the Cleveland Plain Dealer got hold of a confidential letter from NAREB’s chief negotiator, James B. Morris, in which he urged quick NAREB approval of the “Accord” because it “commits” religious leaders to voluntary action and “could be a powerful force in stopping the drive for either federal, state, or local legislation in this field.”

Although some churchmen thought the “Accord” didn’t go far enough, chances for approval looked good until the Morris bombshell. Both sides said some future cooperation is possible.

The National Association of Evangelicals, which joined the other three religious bodies on an “exploratory basis,” was wary of joining in the “Accord” because of its own emphasis on individual conscience.

Room At The Top (For Protestants?)

The federal government, which has long enforced racial equality in firms holding U. S. contracts, is now watching out for religious discrimination. The New York Times last month revealed this new drive in Social Security and the Labor Department, sparked by a complaint last fall from the American Jewish Committee.

The AJC contends that major defense contractors favor Protestants over Jews and Roman Catholics in top executive positions. Also under study are the forty-eight large insurance companies chosen to distribute Medicare funds.

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Most companies do not even record the religious affiliations of their employees, so the government is planning polls of employees that will provide such statistics while insuring anonymity.

The quiet government check is based on executive orders against discrimination. Title VII of the 1964 civil rights act also bans religious bias, both by employers and by labor unions; the few complaints involving religion since the law went into force last July have been conciliated privately.

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