Abbot Edmund Power OSB

October 1, 2009

Edmund PowerAn Anglican honor for a Catholic monk points to progress in ecumenical collaboration and friendship, according to Abbot Edmund Power.

Abbot Power is the leader of the Benedictine Community of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. During September he was named an honorary canon of St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in London.

He comments, “I believe there are many reasons for it. The first is that I have been involved for some time in ecumenical work; then there is the fact of being abbot of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls: abbot of the Benedictine community that, since the eighth century, takes care of the liturgy and the place of burial of the Apostle Paul — we recently celebrated the 2,000th anniversary of his birth. And this gives me a privileged position to act in this area, with the very task entrusted to us subsequently, by Pope Benedict XVI himself, as Benedictines of this particular community.

Another factor that I think influenced in this great honor accorded to me is the fact of being English, which makes me in some way closer to the Anglican world. I understand well the Anglican mentality because it is integrated in English history and culture. And, in addition, I am a Roman Catholic; therefore, I understand well what this means.

Hence, relations with Anglicans and St. Paul’s Abbey are certainly moving in a positive direction, as we saw during the Pauline year.

In recent years, in fact, relations between our community and the Anglican Communion in Rome have been excellent, suffice it to think of the Anglican Center in Rome, administered by the representative of the archbishop of Canterbury, and also of the two Anglican parishes, that of All Saints and of St. Paul Within the Walls, with which we have a particular relationship.

There is also almost a natural union between the Benedictine monks and St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, founded in the year 604 by monk St. Mellitus, disciple of St. Augustine of Canterbury. In fact, the Anglicans consider it as founded by a Benedictine, although historically we are not sure if Mellitus was a Benedictine, but he certainly was a monk. London’s Cathedral, the first in the English capital, was dedicated, moreover, to St. Paul, patron of Rome, together with Peter, which also indicated the great influence of Rome’s mission at the end of the 6th century.

fuorelamuraI believe this type of friendship and these relationships are valuable and very useful, although it seems that at a more theological level it has yet to be addressed; together we can do important things: We can pray together, do good together, serve the poor together, collaborate together on projects of this type. We can do much together, not only in the theological sense, understood dogmatically, but also and above all in regard to spirituality, ascetic and monastic theology, an area that is very close to the Anglican world and held dear, [and] which can become a fertile common ground where dialogue can be shared and made easier.

I have noticed a great interest on the part of many Anglicans in London in finding a way to talk on issues that are urgent for all those who believe in Christ, not just reflecting on certain contested issues, such as women’s priesthood or homosexuality in priests, but above all fixing one’s attention, for example, on the fundamental issue of a culture that no longer recognizes Christ, a challenge both for Catholics and Anglicans, suffice it to think of Europe. A fundamental challenge which calls for exchange, a totally sincere and transparent dialogue to see together, humbly, how to go forward to collaborate together for Christ in the modern world.

I hope that this recognition, for which I feel very grateful and honored, will truly be not only an opportunity for me but for all those who believe that we can work together for the common good and for the Gospel.”


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