Acronyms and Glossary

The following term and acronyms appear frequently in ecumenical documents, particularly those related to Anglican and Roman Catholic dialogue.

ACRAnglican Centre in Rome. The ACR is the permanent Anglican presence in Rome. The Centre’s Director is the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the Holy See.

ACC – Anglican Consultative Council. The role of the ACC is to facilitate the co-operative work of the churches of the Anglican Communion, exchange information between the Provinces and churches, and help to co-ordinate common action. It advises on the organisation and structures of the Communion, and seeks to develop common policies with respect to the world mission of the Church, including ecumenical matters. The ACC is one of the four Instruments of Communion that serve the world wide family of Anglican/Episcopal churches.

ACO – Anglican Communion Office, a permanent secretariat that serves the Anglican Communion and is responsible for facilitating all meetings of the conciliar Instruments of Communion as well as the commissions and networks of the Communion. ACO staff are based in London.

Anglican Communion – The Anglican Communion comprises 38 self-governing member churches or provinces that share several things in common including doctrine, ways of worshipping, mission, and a focus of unity in the Archbishop of Canterbury. Formal mechanisms for meeting include the Lambeth Conferences, the Anglican Consultative Council, and the Primates’ Meetings, together known as the Instruments of Communion. Most Communion life, however, is found in the relationships between Anglicans at all levels of church life and work around the globe; dioceses linked with dioceses, parishes with parishes, people with people, all working to further God’s mission. There are around 85 million people on six continents who call themselves Anglican (or Episcopalian), in more than 165 countries. These Christian brothers and sisters share prayer, resources, support, and knowledge across geographical and cultural boundaries.

ARC – usually refers to national or regional Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue groups. Each ARC is constituted by sponsoring bodies from each church. While each ARC has its own mandate, one aspect of the IARCCUM mandate is to assist the national ARCs to connect to the work of ARCIC and IARCCUM, as well as with each other. This website is a key way that IARCCUM is attempting to meet this mandate.

ARCCM – Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission on the Theology of Marriage. Originally a sub-commission of the ARCJPC, the ARCCM worked from 1967 to 1975 on a report of the theology of marriage and the problem of mixed marriage. Some documents bear the acronym ARCJPC-MM.

ARCICAnglican-Roman Catholic International Commission. Originally called the Anglican/Roman Catholic Permanent Joint Commission, the name was changed at the first meeting in January 1970. There have been three phases of ARCIC.

ARCJPC – Anglican/Roman Catholic Joint Preparatory Commission. This body was established by Archbishop Michael Ramsey, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Pope Paul VI in 1966. In the Malta Report, ARCJPC recommended the establishment of a permanent dialogue commission.


CCU – the Council for Christian Unity was the Church of England’s committee to promote Christian unity. Until the establishment of the Anglican Communion Office the CCU facilitated the dialogue with Roman Catholics on behalf of the Anglican Communion.

CDF – Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Vatican office responsible for doctrinal matters; the CDF and the PCPCU are responsible for the official response to ARCIC I’s Final Report.

CICCodex Iuris Canonici. The Code of Canon Law promulgated by Pope John Paul II in 1983, the CIC is a reform of the 1917 Code.

Curia (also the Roman Curia) – the administrative offices of the Holy See that assist the pope in his ministry of governing the Roman Catholic Church. For ecumenical relations, the key curial office is the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Eastern Catholic churches – The Eastern Catholic Churches are autonomous, self-governing particular churches in full communion with the Pope. Together with the Latin Church, they make up the entire Catholic Church. They preserve many centuries-old Eastern liturgical, devotional, and theological traditions, which are in most cases shared with the various other Eastern Christian churches with which they were once associated, such as the Eastern Orthodox Church and Oriental Orthodox Church.

ECEW – Ecumenical Commission for England and Wales. A commission of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

Episcopal Conferences – since the Second Vatican Council, bishops in the Roman Catholic Church have gathered into national or regional conferences. Although the ecclesiological significance of the episcopal conferences is still evolving, they are not understood as national churches (cf. Anglican Provinces).

The Final Report – the 1982 report of ARCIC I. It contained the work of the dialogue from 1970 to 1981. The individual agreed statements have been published separately, but collected together in this report for submission to the sponsoring Communions for formal response and reception.

Holy See – the episcopal see of the Bishop of Rome, the sovereign entity that constitutes the central government of the Roman Catholic Church. Also known as the Apostolic See (a title it shares with other ancient churches), the Holy See stems from the ministry of St. Peter, the first bishop of Rome, and of St. Paul, both of whom were martyred here. The pope, as bishop of Rome, exercises his authority as successor of both St. Peter and St. Paul. ARCIC‘s reflections on ministry have highlighted the significance of a universal ministry of unity identified with the Petrine ministry. As a sovereign state, the Holy See maintains diplomatic relations with numerous countries in the world and participates in intergovernmental organizations such as the United Nations. An ambassador from the Holy See is known as a papal nuncio.

Informal Talks – The annual Informal Talks is a meeting of staff of the PCPCU, the Anglican Communion Office, Lambeth Palace, the Anglican Centre in Rome and the ARCIC and IARCCUM co-chairs.

IARCCUMInternational Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission

Instruments of Communion – Established to enable Anglican unity in the diversity of the Communion, the four Instruments of Communion comprise the following: Archbishops of Canterbury; Lambeth Conferences; Primates’ Meetings; and the Anglican Consultative Council. In 2005, the ACC accepted a proposal to identify the Archbishop of Canterbury as the “focus for unity”, and to change the former “instruments of unity” to “instruments of communion” in reference to the three conciliar instruments.

Lambeth Conferences – one of the global Anglican Communion‘s four Instruments of Communion. It takes place roughly every ten years at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury. It is the one occasion when all bishops can meet for worship, study and conversation. Archbishops, diocesan, assistant, and suffragan bishops are invited. Also invited are bishops from other churches ‘in communion’ with the Anglican Communion, bishops from United churches, and a number of ecumenical guests.

PCPCU – Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. The Vatican office responsible for ecumenical relations, the Pontifical Council was established in the preparatory stages of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) as the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity.

Primates – the chief archbishop or bishop of a province of the Anglican Communion. In certain provinces the primate is also called Archbishop and/or Metropolitan, while in others for historical reasons, the term Presiding Bishop, or as in Scotland, Primus, is preferred. In some provinces the term is translated to their own language such as Obispo Primado, in the Province of the Southern Cone (South America).

Primates’ Meetings – a gathering of the “primates” of each Anglican Province, established in 1978 by Archbishop Donald Coggan (101st Archbishop of Canterbury) as an opportunity for “leisurely thought, prayer and deep consultation”. In the “United Churches” of South Asia, it is the Moderators of the churches who are invited to the Primates’ Meetings by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Archbishop of Canterbury is recognised as the primus inter pares, the first among equals, of the college of Primates, and attendance at a Primates’ Meeting is by invitation from him.

Provinces – the Anglican Communion consists of national and regional churches gathered together by the four Instruments of Communion. Each province is governed by its own canon law. The term “province” may be confusing because each Anglican Church may also be divided into provinces (e.g. the Anglican Church of Canada, which is the Canadian province within the Anglican Communion, also has a Province of Canada, which is one of four metropolitan provinces).

Vatican City – the sovereign territory of the Holy See in the centre of Rome, it is the world’s smallest independent state, with an area of 110 acres and a population of approximately 800. The most prominent features of Vatican City are St. Peter’s Basilica, St. Peter’s Square, the Apostolic Palace, museums, libraries, and numerous gardens. The offices of the Curia are mostly located outside of Vatican City. The pope is resident in Vatican City, but as bishop of Rome his cathedral is St. John’s Lateran. Vatican City was constituted by the Lateran Treaty between the Holy See and the Italian Republic in 1929 and is not considered a remnant of the former Papal States. In common usage “the Vatican” refers to the Holy See. It is the Holy See, not Vatican City, that establishes diplomatic relations with foreign states.

Vatican II – a council of Roman and Eastern Catholic bishops held in the Vatican from October 1962 to December 1965. Called by Pope St. John XXIII on January 25, 1959 the council was the largest and most geographically diverse gathering of Roman and Eastern Catholic bishops in history. For the first time in history, invited guests and observers from other Christian communities contributed to the working groups and discussion. The Catholic Church considers Vatican II to be the twentieth ecumenical council, in a succession beginning at Nicaea in 325.