DR DONALD COGGAN'S visit to Rome last week was, he stressed, part of a tour. He went on to visit the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church in Istanbul and then to Geneva to meet leaders of the World Council of Churches.
Dr Coggan could not have made such an ecumenical tour without visiting Rome but he is not a man who could make such a goodwill visit to Rome to reflect on the amicable relations between the Churches without mentioning the real obstacles to unity. By
In a startling sermon at the dedication of the new doors at the American Episcopalian Church of St Paul, Dr Coggan called for official recognition of intercommunion between the Churches.
Arguing that the world was searching for leadership from the Churches but would listen to them only when they were truly reconciled with each other, Dr Coggan asked if the time had not now arrived "when we have reached such a measure of agreement on so many fundamentals of the Gospel that a relationship of shared communion can be encouraged by the leadership of the Churches.'
He added: "I would go further, and ask whether our work of evangelisation will not be seriously weakened until we arc able to go to that work strengthened by our joint participation in the Sacrament of Christ's Body and Blood?"
Dr Coggan said that the time had already come in many places. "Without waiting for official sanction, indeed sometimes with official local sanction, Roman Catholics are receiving the Sacrament of Holy Communion at the hands of Anglican bishops and priests, and the reverse is also the case.
"This, 1 venture to believe, will increasingly take place whether official sanction in the highest quarters be given or not. Has not the time, God's time, for such official sanction arrived? I think it has."
Dr Coggan's call was not acknowledged directly, and it surprised Vatican officials who have been working on Anglican
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