May ~ 2017 ~ Anglican-Roman Catholic news & opinion
‘Walking together on the way’ is the title of a new document to be published by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, whose members met this month in Erfurt, Germany. Despite some “difficult conversations” and “hard questions” over the past year, the Anglican and Catholic theologians who make up ARCIC III managed, at the May 14th to 20th meeting, to conclude the first part of their mandate, finding agreement on ways in which the two Churches are structured at local, regional and universal levels. The new statement opens the way for the Commission to tackle the second part of its mandate on how the Churches, at local and universal level, are able “to discern right ethical teaching”. But what does the new ecumenical text contain? And how will it affect ordinary Catholics and Anglicans in the pews? To find answers to those questions, Philippa Hitchen spoke to the Catholic co-secretary of ARCIC III, Fr Anthony Currer of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity.
Anglicans and Roman Catholics should see in each other “a community in which the Holy Spirit is alive and active,” the latest communiqué from the official ecumenical dialogue between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church says. Members of the third-phase of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) met in the central German city of Erfurt early this month for their seventh meeting. They chose to meet in the city to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation – it is here that Martin Luther was ordained and lived as a monk. During their meeting, the members of ARCIC agreed the text of a new statement looking at Anglican and Roman Catholic ecclesiology. Walking Together on the Way: Learning to be Church – Local, Regional, Universal, to be known as The Erfurt Document, will be published next year.
Pope Leo XIII’s papal bull Apostolicae Curae (1896), which declared Anglican orders “absolutely null and utterly void,” has long cast a shadow over the search for unity between Anglicans and Roman Catholics. Anglican churches’ ordination of women as priests is a further complication, as Pope John Paul II made clear. Now one of the Vatican’s top legal minds seems to have opened the way to reconsider Pope Leo’s teaching on Anglican orders. “When someone is ordained in the Anglican Church and becomes a parish priest in a community, we cannot say nothing has happened, that everything is invalid,” said Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.
The disclosure comes in a volume of papers and discussions in Rome as part of an ecumenical forum on the Malines Conversations. Its title refers to a series of Anglican-Catholic conversations acting on the 1920 Lambeth Conference’s “Appeal to All Christian People,” a statement widely credited as foundational to modern ecumenism. The Malines Conversations met with only lukewarm support from Rome and Canterbury but are now considered an important ecumenical stepping stone.