Three Christian traditions in full communion with each other have prepared a joint statement saying that their shared Eucharistic vision is an ethical one through which "our churches may seek to transform the dehumanizing effects of economic, social, and cultural globalization."
Mary Frances Schjonberg writes: The Good Shepherd Communiqué stems from a 12-16 November 2007 consultation of members of the Episcopal Church, the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (the Philippine Independent Church), and the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht. The full communion partners met at the Desmond Tutu Center at the General Theological Seminary (GTS) in New York to consider the theme "Catholicity and Globalization: Being Catholic Churches in the Context of a Globalized World."
Representatives of the Church of Sweden participated. Although not in a full-communion relationship with the Episcopal Church, the two communions have always had a relationship due to the many traits they share, including the historic episcopate and the three-fold order of ordained ministry.
During this second of three such planned consultations, the participants developed "a growing understanding of one another -- of our differences as well as our commonalities," they say in the communiqué. "As we pray and talk and laugh and weep together, and as together we eat and drink of God's bounty, we not only experience but extend the Eucharistic catholicity of God's church."
Noting that the bread and wine "are the work of human hands, transformed by God's saving grace into his own body and blood," the communiqué says, "we who share in that body and blood are required to challenge all those forces that would undermine the value of human labor, that would leave the poor to suffer and demean human productivity. "We seek through the power of the Eucharist to offer an alternative global understanding, confronting global economic, social, and cultural power and tyranny with the all-encompassing spiritual power of God's church."
Bishop C. Christopher Epting, the Presiding Bishop's deputy for ecumenical and interfaith relations, told ENS that this second meeting "served to solidify our international ecumenical relations with churches who, like us, consider ourselves 'non-Roman' but catholic churches and with which we are in formal full communion relationships - just as we are with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America."
The Good Shepherd Communiqué notes different understandings and influences of globalization. "For some the word globalization includes both the benefits of worldwide communication and the advantages of the breaking down of borders, while for others the word echoes with the violation of national identity and cultural integrity, a tool of imperialism," it says.
The participants acknowledged that they need to "develop a shared language that conveys those experiences that we do not yet share" so that they can "know more about one another's experience and thereby to learn how to hear one another more clearly and how to hear God speaking through others."
One "powerful" way of living out the full-communion relationship and "signifying our catholicity," the participants say, would be to incorporate into the calendars of our churches a commemoration of Bishop Alberto Ramento, the ninth Obispo Maximo of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, who was killed in October 2006.
"Such a liturgical expression would commemorate his life and witness against oppression and against the physical and social exploitation that results from globalization," the communiqué says.
The working group will meet for a third time in the Philippines in August 2008, hosted by the Iglesia Filipina Independiente. During that meeting, participants will prepare the final report on their charge of considering of globalization within the context of catholicity. They will formulate proposals in accord with the commitment made in the 2006 St. Martin's Statement's "to offer specific suggestions of how to counter the dire effects of globalization, to encourage its positive aspects, and to seek transformation through justice and compassion."
The St Martin's Statement - at Maassen near Utrecht - committed the group to work together "to understand about what it means to be catholic today, in the context of increasing globalization, technological interconnections, and the imbricated layers of many kinds of networks."
Epting said the three-year consultation is important to Episcopalians because "it makes a practical connection between theology - in this case, the concept of catholicity - and practice, that is how global churches can witness together in a globalized world."
With grateful acknowledgments to the Episcopal News Service USA