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WASHINGTON (March 14, 2007) – The 62nd meeting of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Theological Consultation (ARC-USA) took place at Saint Paul’s College here, March 8 to 10. It was chaired jointly by Right Reverend Edwin F. Gulick, Jr., Episcopal Bishop of Kentucky, and Most Reverend Edward W. Clark, Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles. The meeting focused on recent developments in Anglican-Catholic relations, trends within the Anglican Communion and two statements that are nearing completion.
Bishop Chris Epting, Ecumenical Officer for the Episcopal Church and a guest at the meeting of Anglican Primates that took place in February in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, reported on that gathering. A main focus of the Primates’ meeting was a discussion on the Episcopal Church’s response to the Windsor Report, a document that recommends ways in which the Anglican Communion can maintain unity amid differing positions, chiefly around homosexuality. In the short term, the Primates asked for assurances from the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church that they will neither give consent to any candidate for bishop who is living in a same-gender relationship nor authorize same-gender blessings within their dioceses. In the longer term, the group approved the offer of the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church to install a Primatial Vicar to represent her in certain Episcopal dioceses that are uncomfortable with recent developments. It also called for the creation of a Pastoral Council of bishops for counsel and advice, and the development of an Anglican Covenant that would be intended to affirm the cooperative principles that hold together the Anglican Communion.
Further consideration was given to a response by ARC-USA to the 2004 “Seattle Document” of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, entitled “Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ.” Reflection papers were presented by Rev. Francis Sullivan, SJ, of Boston College and Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers of Seabury-Western Theological Seminary. The group decided to move forward on drafting an agreed statement that would be ready for approval at the next meeting.
Rev. Dr. Robert Prichard of Virginia Theological Seminary presented an initial draft text of a proposed Spanish-language pastoral tool that could be used to clarify the distinctions between the churches and to illustrate what progress has been made in their ecumenical relationship in recent decades. The text will be revised and completed for consideration at the next meeting.
The group also reflected on the relationship between ARC-USA and the international Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue. It also heard a presentation from Bishop Gulick on the contents of a document soon to be issued by The International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM), “Growing Together in Unity and Mission.”
During their meeting, ARC-USA members visited the headquarters of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). They met briefly to hear from Dr. Joanne Pierce of the College of the Holy Cross about progress in the publication of a study guide on Anglican-Roman Catholic relations, and were given a tour of the building. This was followed by a special luncheon in their honor which was attended by Rev. James Massa, Executive Director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs and other members of the SEIA staff. Msgr. Ronny Jenkins, Associate General Secretary of the USCCB, also greeted the group.
As usual, during the course of the meeting Eucharist was celebrated in both traditions, and likewise Morning Prayer and Compline were celebrated each morning and evening. The members participated in these to the extent allowed by the disciplines of their own churches.
The sixty-third meeting of ARC-USA is scheduled to take place from October 18 to 21, 2007, at a location to be determined. The October meeting will conclude the current phase of the dialogue, and will be followed by a re-constitution of the commission according to a new model. The dialogue will now be conducted in rounds, each of which will address a specific topic and include members from both sides with special expertise on the question at hand. In October the current members will decide the topic of the next round, which will last approximately five years. This model is already in effect in several other national dialogues taking place in the United States.
The Anglican-Roman Catholic Consultation in the United States was established in 1965 and ordinarily meets twice each year. In addition to Bishop Gulick, the Episcopal members are Bishop Barry Howe of West Missouri, Bishop-Elect Thomas Breidenthal of the Diocese of Southern Ohio, Rev. Dr Ruth Meyers, Rev Dr Robert W. Prichard, Rev. Dr Ellen Wondra, Dr. Marsha Dutton, Rev. Canon Dr J. Robert Wright, Bishop Christopher Epting (staff), and Rev. Dirk Reinken (staff). Rev. Richard D. Visconti serves as EDEIO representative. The Catholic members, in addition to Bishop Clark, include Most Reverend John C. Dunne, Auxiliary Bishop of Rockville Centre, Rev. Dr. Robert Imbelli, Prof. Jon Nilson, Prof. Joanne Pierce, Rev. Francis A. Sullivan, SJ, Rev. George Tavard, AA, Rev. Msgr. Robert Trisco, Rev. Dr. Ronald G. Roberson, CSP (staff), Mr. Benjamin Brown (staff), and Rev. Vincent Heier (CADEIO Representative).