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English bishop to take leading role in Catholic-Lutheran dialogue

Bishop Kenney is pictured during a visit to Gaza (Mazur/

An English bishop has been appointed co-president of the International Lutheran-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity.

The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity chose Bishop William Kenney, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Birmingham, for the role.

Bishop Kenny’s Lutheran counterpart is Bishop Emeritus Eero Huovinen of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. The two have successfully collaborated previously on Nordic dialogue commissions.

Earlier this month, the commission published a report on “the Apostolicity of the Church”. Bishop Kenney and Bishop Huovinen will launch a new phase of dialogue for the commission in August. The dialogue will concentrate on “baptism and growing Church communion” and will be held in Japan.

Bishop Kenney studied sociology and psychology at the universities of Vaxjo and Gothenburg. He worked as a parish priest and academic sociologist within the Catholic Church in Sweden, before pursuing doctoral studies at the London School of Economics from 1977 to 1979.

He then lectured in the sociology of religion and was director of Studies at the Department of Religious Studies in the University of Gothenburg between 1979 and 1982 and from 1984 to 1987. He was a general councillor of the Passionist Congregation, resident in Rome, from 1982 to 1984.

He is the spokesman on European affairs of the Bishops of England and Wales and represents the Bishops’ Conference at Comece, the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community.

The Lutheran-Roman Catholic Joint Commission was established in 1967 and aims at the full, visible unity of the two communions.