ARCIC III ponders ethical teaching

7 May 2012 • Persistent link:

Discernment of right ethical teaching is a key issue for the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission meeting in Hong Kong.

Discernment of right ethical teaching was one of a number of issues on the table at the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission’s latest meeting in Hong Kong.

The Commission is chaired by New Zealand’s Archbishop David Moxon and the Most Rev Bernard Longley (Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham), and comprises 19 theologians from across the world.

They have been meeting at the Mission to Seafarers in Kowloon.

The agenda covered the Church as Communion, local and universal, and how in communion the local and universal Church comes to discern right ethical teaching.

The Commission has also been asked to present the documents of ARCIC II for reception by the relevant authorities of both communions.

At this latest meeting, running from May 3-10, the Commission built upon the framework it had prepared at its first meeting.

This seeks to address the interrelated ecclesiological and ethical questions of its mandate under four headings: the identity and mission of the Church; the patterning of the Church’s life that undergirds local and universal communion; shortcomings in the churches which obscure the glory of God; and ethical discernment and teaching.

Members presented papers in each of these areas which were discussed both in plenary and in small groups.

To assist its own understanding, the Commission is preparing case studies in three ethical areas: matters which historically once seemed settled but which, on reflection, have come to be viewed quite differently by both traditions (slavery); issues on which Anglican and Roman Catholic teaching is at variance (divorce and remarriage, contraception); and evolving issues (a theology of work and the economy).

The Commission will not seek to resolve disputed ethical questions. Rather, its purpose is to analyze the means by which the two traditions have arrived at or are currently determining ‘right ethical teaching’.

The Commission plans to share its developing work with joint meetings of bishops and with local and regional dialogues between Anglicans and Roman Catholics (ARCs).

Through the week, the Commission reflected on the First Epistle of John, under the leadership of the co-chairs.

Sunday’s Gospel from John 15:1-8 set before the community the beautiful metaphor of Christ as the vine and his disciples as the branches, and members often returned to this theme in their discussions.

The debate in Acts 15 (about the admission of the Gentiles to the Church) has both been read in the liturgy and discussed as an example of decision-making in the early Church.

The work of the Commission has been enriched by living in the ecumenical community of the Mission to Seafarers, run by Anglican, Roman Catholic, Danish and German Lutherans.

Members of the Commission worshipped in its chapel, and learned from the Rev Stephen Miller, senior chaplain, about its spiritual and practical mission with those often overlooked people who work aboard container and cargo ships.

Their work was nourished by biblical reflection from the Most Rev Paul Kwong, Anglican Archbishop of Hong Kong. The Archbishop also generously hosted a dinner for the Commission.

The Commission met staff and students of Ming Hua Anglican Theological College and the Holy Spirit Roman Catholic Seminary, to share the history and work of ARCIC and to talk with them about their formation for ministry.

On Sunday, the Commission worshipped at St John’s Anglican Cathedral and, from Ms Holly Alan, learned of the cathedral’s outreach to migrant domestic workers.

The Commission also benefitted from a presentation by the Rev Catherine Graham (Coordinator for the Anglican Communion’s Refugee and Migrant Network) about Anglican ministry to migrants at risk. She also referred to this ministry by Roman Catholic religious orders.

The Commission will prepare further papers, expand case studies, and prepare for its next meeting, from April 29–May 6, 2013.


Co-chairs: The Most Rev Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham, Englan; the Most Rev David Moxon, Bishop of Waikato and Archbishop of the Dioceses of 
New Zealand.

Roman Catholics: The Rev Robert Christian OP, Angelicum University, Rome; the Most Rev Arthur Kennedy, auxiliary bishop, Archdiocese of Boston,
Massachusetts, USA; Professor Paul D. Murray, Durham University, England;
Professor Janet E. Smith, Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit, Michigan, USA; the Rev Professor Vimal Tirimanna CSsR, Alphonsianum University, Rome; the Very Rev Dom Henry Wansbrough OSB, Ampleforth Abbey, England; the Rev Sister Teresa Okure SHCJ, Catholic Institute of West Africa, Port Harcourt, Nigeria; the Rev Adelbert Denaux, Dean,Tilburg School of Catholic Theology, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Canon Dr Paula Gooder, Birmingham, England; the Rt Rev Christopher Hill, Bishop of Guildford, England; the Rev Canon Professor Mark McIntosh, University of Durham, England;
the Rt Revd Nkosinathi Ndwandwe, Bishop Suffragan of Natal, Southern Area, South Africa; the Rt Rev Linda Nicholls, Area Bishop for Trent-Durham, Diocese of Toronto, Canada; the Rev Canon Michael Nai-Chiu Poon, Trinity Theological College, Singapore; the Revd Canon Professor Nicholas Sagovsky, London, England; the Rev Peter Sedgwick, St Michael’s College, Llandaff, Wales; the Rev Charles Sherlock, Anglican Diocese of Bendigo, Australia; the Rev Canon Jonathan Goodall, Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative.

Consultants: The Very Rev Peter Galadza, Sheptytsky Institute, St Paul University, Ottawa, Canada; the Rev Odair Pedroso Mateus, Faith and Order Secretariat, World Council of Churches.

The work of the Commission is supported by the co-secretaries, Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan (Anglican Communion Office), Monsignor Mark Langham (Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity) and Mr Neil Vigers (Administrative Assistant, Anglican Communion Office).