Coronation ceremony to feature significant ecumenical elements

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Coronation ceremony to feature significant ecumenical elementsAbbot Christopher Jamison speaks with Vatican Media about the ecumenical and interreligious elements that will mark the coronation of King Charles III, which takes place Saturday.

Although the essential elements of the coronation of English monarchs have remained unchanged for almost 1,000 years, Saturday’s ceremony will incorporate significant ecumenical and interreligious gestures – a testament, says Abbot Christopher Jamison, of the broad and inclusive nature of the Anglican Communion.

In an interview with Vatican News ahead of the ceremony, the President of the English Benedictines noted that the “heart” of the coronation ceremony “is an Anglican liturgy which cannot really be changed.” For this reason, he said, “significant ecumenical elements” have been added before and after the primary liturgical ritual.

A significant development

Abbot Jamison pointed to the procession of flags of Commonwealth nations that will take place at the beginning of ceremony, noting that the British flag will be borne by the Hindu Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, a blessing will be pronounced by Christian leaders of various denominations, including the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, “who will become the first Cardinal to participate in a coronation since the sixteenth century.”

“A Hindu prime minister leading [the procession] and a Catholic Cardinal concluding [it] is a significant development in the liturgy itself,” said Abbot Jamison.

Tensions within the liturgy

At the same time, the Abbot President noted the “inner tension within the liturgy itself” between the Protestant and Catholic traditions within Anglicanism.

Although the King will swear an oath affirming his Protestant profession, the liturgy itself, said the Abbot, “is profoundly Catholic in its style.”

He pointed to the anointing of the King with oil, explaining that sacred oils are not used officially in any other Anglican liturgy.”

Both the sacred oil, blessed by an Orthodox patriarch in Jerusalem; and the processional Cross which incorporates a relic of the True Cross donated by Pope Francis, add an additional ecumenical note to the coronation.

A tremendous achievement

The inclusion of ecumenical and interreligious elements into the coronation ceremony “is a tremendous achievement by the Anglican Church and by the King to include the diverse elements of British society within a liturgy that is profoundly Anglican,” said Abbot Jamison. “And of course, that is a very Anglican kind of achievement.”

He added, “You see here, I think, Anglicanism at its best, in its ability to reach out to everybody and its flexibility.”

Christopher Wells