WASHINGTON (September 21, 2006)–The Anglican-Roman Catholic Theological Consultation in the USA held its 61st meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, from September 14 to 17. It was hosted by the Episcopal Diocese of Kentucky, and was co-chaired by Right Reverend Edwin F. Gulick, Jr., Episcopal Bishop of Kentucky, and Auxiliary Bishop Edward W. Clark of Los Angeles.
The first two sessions of the dialogue were devoted to discussion of the decisions reached at the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church that took place in Columbus, Ohio, last June, including the election of Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori as the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the first female Primate of the Anglican Communion.
During two subsequent sessions, the members of the Consultation heard a proposal from Rev. James Massa, Executive Director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) regarding the format of the Consultation. The proposal envisages moving towards conducting the dialogue in rounds, each of which would address a specific topic and include members from both sides with special expertise on the question at hand. The new rhythm of meetings would include one annual plenary along with the annual meeting of a Steering Committee that would be concerned with the overall progress of the dialogue as well as overseeing the drafting of agreed texts. The length of each round would be flexible, ordinarily lasting approximately five years. The members of the Consultation adopted the proposal in principle with the understanding that it would most probably come into effect in 2008.
At this meeting the Consultation continued its consideration of the 2004 “Seattle Document” of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, “Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ,” focusing on the persuasiveness of its argumentation. Dr. Marsha L. Dutton of Ohio University offered a reflection from an Episcopal point of view that was responded to by Dr. Joanne Pierce of the College of the Holy Cross. Rev. Dr. J. Robert Wright of the General Theological Seminary offered another Episcopalian perspective with a response from Rev. Robert Imbelli of Boston College.
The members of the Consultation also heard a proposal prepared by Rev. Dr. Robert W. Prichard of Virginia Theological Seminary concerning Spanish-Language ministry in the two churches. A brief Spanish-language pastoral tool would be prepared that would clarify the distinctions between the churches as well as the progress made in ecumenical dialogues. A draft text will be prepared for the next meeting.
During this meeting the regular cycle of worship was observed, including Morning Prayer and Night Prayer in both traditions. Bishop Christopher Epting presided at an Anglican Eucharist in the Christ Church Cathedral chapel on September 16, and Bishop Clark presided at a Roman Catholic Eucharist in the Cathedral of the Assumption on September 17. The members participated in these celebrations to the extent allowed by their own church disciplines. The Consultation was honored by the presence of the Most Reverend Thomas C. Kelly, O.P., Archbishop of Louisville, at the evening meal on September 15.
The 62nd meeting of the Consultation was scheduled to take place March 8-11, 2007, at a location to be determined.
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, Rev Dr Thomas Breidenthal, 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).