On Thursday 18th November the annual Festival of the Society of St Willibrord took place in London. The Festival opened with a solemn Eucharist in St Peter`s Church (Eaton Square). Bishop Dr Ring preached the sermon. In the afternoon he lectured about the relations of the German Old Catholic Church with the National Socialists during the so called »Third Reich«. The St Willibrord Society was formed to foster friendship between the Anglican Communion and the Old Catholic Churches.
In his doctoral thesis »Katholisch und deutsch – Die alt-katholische Kirche Deutschlands und der Nationalsozialismus« Dr Ring has already worked on this theme. In his lecture in London he focused upon the relations between the Church of England and the German Old Catholic Church, especially the conflicts around the Society of St Willibrord and its activities in the years 1933 – 1945.
In the year 2000 the German Synod acknowledged its liabilities towards its Jewish sisters and brothers in faith in the presence of Rabbi Prof Dr Walter Homolka: »We confess that our church became guilty not only by activities of private persons but also of official representatives … They have neglected doing good and were tolerating the evil or were even complicit with it.«
Since 1931 there exists full communion between the Anglican Communion and the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht. The term »full communion« means that this union is more than a simple invitation to the Eucharist from one church to another. Therefore it is also an ecumenical model.
The first Society of St Willibrord was founded in England in the year 1908. It traces its name back to St Willibrord, the English missionary to the Frisians who became Archbishop of Utrecht in the year 695. Since the foundation of the Old Catholic Churches after the First Vatican Council (1870/71) the Archbishop of Utrecht has a position of honour within the community of Old Catholic Bishops.