[USCCB, 9 June 2009] WASHINGTON — The second meeting of the new round of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue in the United States (ARC-USA) took place in Cincinnati, May 25-26. It was hosted by the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio and co-chaired by Episcopal Bishop Thomas Breidenthal of Southern, Ohio, and Catholic Bishop Ronald P. Herzog of Alexandria, Louisiana. Following the theme of this round of dialogue, “Ecclesiology and Moral Discernment: Common Ground and Divergences,” members examined two moral theology issues: debt relief and contraception.
Debt relief was addressed on the Catholic side by M. Therese Lysaught, Ph.D., of Marquette University in a paper entitled, “Reconciling All Things: An Analysis of the Roman Catholic Position on International Debt.” The question was analyzed from an Anglican perspective by Timothy F. Sedgwick, Ph.D., of the Virginia Theological Seminary in his paper, “A Case Study on Poverty: On Moral Teaching in the Episcopal and Anglican Church.” Members noted that even though they differ on sources and methodologies, the two churches have reached nearly identical conclusions on this question.
The moral aspects of contraception in the Anglican tradition were presented by Rev. Matthew S. C. Olver , Church of the Incarnation in Dallas, Texas, in his paper, “Anglican Moral Reasoning about Contraception.” The Catholic teaching on this question was expounded by Theresa Notare, Ph.D., assistant director of the Natural Family Planning Program at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), in a study entitled, “The Moral Regulation of Birth: Roman Catholic Teaching on Conjugal Love and Responsible Parenthood.” Members said that in this case, the different methodologies and sources appear to explain a substantial divergence regarding the morality of the use of contraception.
At the next meeting of the dialogue, slated for October, members will continue to examine these questions. They will explore the fact that while the two churches share a range of convictions regarding the moral aspects of many questions of social justice, there are serious differences regarding issues in personal morality, especially those pertaining to sexuality.
At the next meeting the position of the two churches on immigration will be examined, and members will hear Anglican and Catholic responses to Veritatis Splendor, the 1993 encyclical by Pope John Paul II.
In the evening of May 26, members attended a dinner with the Board of Governors of the Anglican Center in Rome, who were meeting in Cincinnati at the dialogue session. Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk of Cincinnati, Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr, Co-Adjutor Archbishop of Cincinnati, and The Very Reverend David Richardson, Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, also attended.
In addition to the co-chair, Catholic members of the dialogue are Msgr. David A. Bohr, STD, Rector of St. Peter’s Cathedral in Scranton, Pennsylvania; Father Charles Caccavale, STD, of the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, New York; Dr. Lysaught, Department of Theology, Marquette University; Dr. Notare; Jesuit Father Thomas P. Rausch, Ph.D., Department of Theological Studies of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles; and Paulist Father Ronald G. Roberson, STD., Associate Director of the USCCB’s Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs and staff to the dialogue.
Representatives of the Episcopal Church, in addition to Bishop Breidenthal, include the Ellen Wondra, Ph.D., Professor of Theology and Ethics at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary; the Rev. Olver; Mary Reath, governor of the Anglican Center in Rome and author of “Rome and Canterbury: The Elusive Search for Unity” (2007); Dr.Sedgwick; the Rev. Canon. J. Robert Wright, Ph.D, Assistant Professor of Church History at the General Theological Seminary in New York, New York; and the Right Reverend Christopher Epting, ecumenical officer of The Episcopal Church and staff to the dialogue.