Stories of arcic from the Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogues
While the consecration of the Church of England’s first woman bishop presents significant challenges in bringing Catholics and Anglicans into “closer communion,” ecumenical leaders say the door to dialogue remains open.
The consecration of Libby Lane as an Anglican bishop earlier this month creates a “further challenge to a hope of organic reunion”, said David Moxon, another Anglican bishop, in a Jan. 29 interview with CNA, reiterating concerns expressed by Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham.
Moxon and Archbishop Longley are co-chairs of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), which aims to advance ecumenical relations between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.
In a Jan. 27 interview with Vatican Radio, Archbishop Longley, acknowledging the challenges presented by Lane’s Anglican episcopal consecration, stressed that it “shouldn’t affect the way in which the dialogue is continued.”
The Roman Catholic co-chair of the Third Anglican/Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC III) has expressed his personal view that, seeing how in 1993 certain relaxations were made in the Vatican’s rules on eucharistic sharing, further relaxation is possible. Speaking last week to the Gazette editor following a joint session of the National Advisers’ Committee on Ecumenism of the Irish (Roman Catholic) Episcopal Conference and representatives of the Church of Ireland’s Commission for Christian Unity and Dialogue, at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, the Most Rev. Bernard Longley — Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham and ARCIC III co-chair — referred to the changes in “specified circumstances” set out in the 1993 Ecumenism Directory.
New Zealand Anglican Archbishop, David Moxon, says there seem to be many obstacles to fully visible Anglican Catholic union and it is unlikely to be achieved in the near future. He is the co-chairperson of the Anglican-Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) and was speaking at the Commission’s meeting in Hong Kong last week. “We can, however, do a lot of things together during this slow process,” he says.
The Catholic co-chairperson, Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham, speaking before the meeting said,”I do understand those doubts, misgivings, and sometimes frustrations and disappointments particularly on the part of those people who have committed many years to dialogue and who at the outset thought the prospects of unity were much more realistic than they are now. New challenges, new obstacles have come in the way in the path of unity.
As the 4 to 10 May meeting of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) drew to a close, participants emphasized the importance of social witness and openness in ecumenical dialogue.
“There seem to be many obstacles from a human point of view, and it does not seem likely to have fully visible unity in the near future,” New Zealand Anglican Archbishop David Moxon, the co-chairperson of the meeting, said on May 8. “We can, however, do a lot of things together during this slow process,” he added.
“As we discussed in the meeting, there can be more collaborations between us, such as (humanitarian agencies) Caritas International and the Global Anglican Relief and Development Alliance,” he said.
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.
The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Anglican Communion Office announced in a communique today that the most recent report of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), entitled “Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ,” will be presented on May 16, 2005 in Seattle, U.S.A., where the Commission last met and completed its work on the document. Cardinal Walter Kasper is the president of the pontifical council.
The Director of Ecumenical Affairs at the Anglican Communion Office (the Revd Canon Gregory K Cameron) last month reported to the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) that the current Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue had reached a significant milestone.
In a report to the Joint Standing Committee, which was held in Canterbury in March, Canon Gregory Cameron confirmed that the Anglican – Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) had completed its work on a document “Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ” setting out an agreed framework for the theological and devotional understanding of Mary in the Christian faith.
One of the subtleties of Shakespeare’s As You Like It is the existence of layers of sexual ambiguity implied in its original performance: a boy-actor played the part of a young woman disguised as a young man who at one point is pretending to be a girl. I was put in mind of these layers of meaning when I read The Eucharist: sacrament of unity (ESU), the Church of England’s highly courteous and careful response to the British and Irish bishops’ 1998 teaching document on eucharistic doctrine and sharing entitled One Bread One Body (OBOB). There is of course one vitally important difference: whereas the play’s layers form the stages in a dialectic, i.e. an interactive process, of ambiguity, the theological document offers a dialectic of clarification, which provides a model of what is involved in ecumenical reception.
At a press briefing in Westminster Abbey, London, today, the co-chairmen of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), the Rt Revd Mark Santer (Anglican) and the Rt Revd Cormac Murphy-O’Connor (Roman Catholic), launched the document “The Gift of Authority”, the latest in study documents issued by 18 members of the Commission.
This new document is the third agreed statement from ARCIC to address the question of authority in the church – its nature, exercise and implications. The statement takes into account the recent work in both Churches concerned with the matter of authority – the Lambeth Conference 1998 resolutions of the topic, “The Virginia Report” (Anglican document sent to the Provinces), and the 1995 Encyclical Letter on Ecumenism, “Ut Unum Sint”.
I welcome the publication of the ARCIC‘s latest document, “The Gift of Authority”. I would like to express my thanks to the Co-Chairmen of the Commission, Bishop Cormac Murphy O’Connor and Bishop Mark Santer, together with their colleagues, for all their hard work and dedication.
“The Gift of Authority” tackles the most controversial of theological issues separating Roman Catholics and Anglicans. It is noteworthy that in earlier stages in the life of ARCIC it was recognised that more work would be needed before the same level of agreement could be recorded on Authority as was achieved on the topics of the Eucharist and Ministry and Ordination.
The end of the road is nowhere near being in sight yet, but solid progress is being made: this was the impression given by the communiqué and press conference that followed last week’s second meeting of the Anglican-Catholic joint preparatory commission, held at Huntercombe Manor, Taplow, Berks, from August 30th to September 3rd.
Indeed, the frequency of the commission’s meetings seems to be increasing: while the first meeting was held seven and a half months ago at Gazzada in northern Italy, it is hoped to hold the third meeting towards the end of December, at the most only four months hence. Where it will be held is not yet certain: it has to be some where near a large international airport, but the likelihood of fog at that time of year rules out London airport, and therefore England.