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A Catholic and an Anglican teach ecumenism course side by side in Rome

2009-11-16

The ecumenical department at the Angelicum University in Rome is behind this unique curriculum geared at teaching students about ecumenism.

The course goes beyond denominational lines giving students two contemporary perspectives on issues that have historically divided Catholics and Anglicans.

Professor Roderick Strange
Rector, Beda College (Rome)

“I hope the students when they see us discussing at times disagreeing or taking different emphases, taking different approaches to the same questions, that the students themselves recognize or learn something about the way which the dialogue for ecumenism and the relationships between different traditions between the churches can be handled.”

Rev. Bill Franklin
Associate Director, American Academy (Rome)

“Even in the class today I was giving the Anglican view of the Reformation and then after the break Rod said, Monsignor Strange,’ I’ve got to give the Roman Catholic view.’ That made the class even better. Because the students could see that we both had a different understanding of a similar set of events and yet we were friends in having that."

But the most interesting part about the class is the rapport between the two professors—modeled after one of the most famous friendships in the Church’s history.

The one between Cardinal John Henry Newman and John Pusey; a Catholic and an Anglican, both leaders of the Oxford Movement who remained friends even after Newman left the Anglican Church to become a Roman Catholic.

Professor Roderick Strange
Rector, Beta College (Rome)

“We’ve become friends which is in itself a kind of reflection if you like in a minor key of what was taking place between Newman and Pusey.”

Rev. Bill Franklin
Associate Director, American Academy (Rome)

“Ultimately seeing how two church figures and two church figures in the 21 century can have a deep friendship even at a moment when our churches don’t entirely agree on every subject. So it’s the theme of friendship that I want to share with people.”

So, what’s Father Bill and Father Roderick’s most important lesson?  Teaching the students to forge friendships the same way they both did in the spirit of John Henry Newman and John Pusey. All the while learning about ecumenism.

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