May ~ 2016 ~ Anglican-Roman Catholic news & opinion
Is doubt just the opposite of faith? Or is it more complicated?
Bishop Donald Bolen, of the Roman Catholic diocese of Saskatoon, says this is one of the central issues facing people today, and a question that’s been on his mind throughout his life as a priest.
For him, it’s definitely more complicated.
“In a sense, apathy is the opposite of faith, whereas a lively doubt is a part of our faith,” Bolen says. “Doubt wants faith to have its reasons… I think when people pay serious attention to their doubts and don’t give up on them, but work with them, the doubting becomes a motivation to think more, to search more, to pray more, to look harder, to find reasons, and I think that’s a motivation which leads to a deeper faith,” he says.
“The doubter is on a quest.”
Anglican and Catholic theologians, meeting in Toronto, Canada this week, have agreed on the publication of their first ARCIC III document on the theme “Towards a Church fully reconciled”. The volume, which is likely to be published in the autumn, uses the ‘Receptive Ecumenism’ approach to look at the limitations within each communion and see how one Church can help the other grow towards the fullness of faith. The third Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC III) is holding its sixth annual meeting from May 11th to 19th, hosted by the Anglican sisters of St John the Divine in Toronto. The 18 members of the Commission have completed work on the first part of their mandate, exploring tensions between the local and Universal Church within the two communions, and are continuing discussions on a second volume, looking at how Anglicans and Catholics make difficult moral and ethical decisions.
After nearly 50 years of discourse between the Catholic and Anglican communions, the official dialogue body wants to fine-tune how it studies the differences and similarities between two churches which both call themselves Catholic.
“ARCIC III hasn’t proved itself yet,” Sir David Moxon, Anglican co-chair of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, told The Catholic Register following an ecumenical evensong on Pentecost Sunday.
This third stage of the dialogue has been meeting since 2011, but has yet to publish a major document. It is currently studying how the Church arrives at moral teaching.
The official dialogue sponsored by the Vatican and the Archbishop of Canterbury is meeting in Toronto until May 18, when a concluding communique is expected from the meeting of 22 bishops, theologians and support staff. It is the first time the body has met in Canada and, to the knowledge of the participants, the first time in 50 years that ARCIC has met during Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit first revealed the global unity of the Christian message expressed in the diversity of languages from around the world.
About 23 years ago, says Archbishop David Moxon of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, he and the local Roman Catholic bishop made an agreement that still makes him feel hopeful. The two church heads decided to share the rite of imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday – a tradition that continues in New Zealand today. Outstanding doctrinal differences prevent the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches from being able to actually take communion together. But Moxon, who is also the Anglican co-chair of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC)-the two faith groups’ international ecumenical body-is encouraged about the prospect of ongoing dialogue. The relationships made between New Zealand Anglicans and Roman Catholics through sharing the Ash Wednesday rite, he says, led the two churches to spearhead a joint mission that involves nine Christian charities and serves about 7,000 people in the city of Hamilton, New Zealand.