|Canterbury Cathedral © Toby Melville / Reuters|
The Right Reverend Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, and Cardinal Vincent Nichols, head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, were speaking at an event at Hampton Court Palace, London, on Tuesday.
They hailed the reconciliation between two churches that have traditionally been rivals, and the gathering also saw the first Catholic act of worship at the chapel of Henry VIII for 450 years.
“I would like to think of this evening as a celebration of how far we’ve come and also a celebration of a common agenda,” Chartres said.
Nichols spoke about the contribution Catholics had made to the UK as a “significant minority,” to which Chartres said “we are all minorities now.”
“What I see, particularly around London, is that increasingly we are living in a post-denominational era,” Chartres added.
Recent studies suggest the cleric may be correct, with figures showing a plunge in regular worshippers in the UK.
The church’s annual pew count reports only 1.4 percent of the population of England attends Anglican services every Sunday. Mid-week services have also slipped below the one million mark for the first time.
Average Sunday attendance has fallen by 22,000 from 764,700 in 2014. That is a third less than the average during the 1960s.
The fall is partly down to the ageing and death of worshipers, with the church losing one percent of its attendees per year.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby told a recent crisis meeting of Anglican leaders the church is being affected by an “anti-Christian culture.”
“In this country many talk of the post-Christian society, but the Church of England educates more than a million children in our schools,” he told the gathered Primates.