WASHINGTON (April 1, 2003) Meeting from March 27-30, 2003, members of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Consultation in the United States (ARC-USA) concluded their discussion of The Gift of Authority and agreed to a response that listed certain strengths of the document, noted particular concerns, listed issues requiring further investigation, and suggested concrete steps for interim participation in structures of authority. The Gift of Authority was released by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission in 1999, the fourth in a series of agreed statements and elucidations on authority in the church. ARC-USA has studied The Gift of Authority and related questions and issues for several meetings.
In sessions chaired by Bishop Edwin F. Gulick of the Diocese of Kentucky and Archbishop William J. Levada of San Francisco, members of ARC-USA discussed in detail an initial draft of a response and reviewed two additional revisions before agreement was reached unanimously on the final text.
The dialogue’s sessions on Friday, March 28, were held at the offices of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and members were invited to lunch with Msgr. William P. Fay, USCCB General Secretary, and staff. The rest of the meeting took place at St. Paul’s College, a residence of the Paulist Fathers in Washington, DC. Bishop John C. Dunne, Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre and a member of ARC-USA, presided and preached at the Saturday evening Eucharist of the Paulist community. ARC-USA members begin and end the day with Morning Prayer and Compline using forms in The Book of Common Prayer and attend a Eucharistic liturgy at which a member of the dialogue presides. Catholic and Anglican liturgies alternate on the days when the dialogue meets.
In other discussions, members of ARC-USA reviewed a detailed draft of a projected agreed report on intermediate levels of authority in the church, namely independent provinces of the Anglican Communion and episcopal conferences in the Catholic Church. Bishop Gulick also reported on the last meeting of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity and Mission, which he attends as one of the members from the United States.
ARC-USA meets twice each year. The next meeting will be in Portland, Oregon, October 2-5, 2003.
In addition to Archbishop Levada, Bishop Gulick, and Bishop Dunne, attending the March meeting were: Bishop Barry Howe of the Diocese Kansas City (MO), Rev. Dr. Robert Prichard, Rev. Dr. Ellen Wondra, Dr. Marsha Dutton, Dr. R. William Franklin, Rev. Canon Dr. J. Robert Wright, Bishop Christopher Epting (staff for the Episcopal Church), Rev. Canon David Veal (representing the Episcopal Diocesan Ecumenical Officers), Dr. Rozanne Elder (an Anglican member of the international commission), Rev. Dr. Robert Imbelli, Professor Jon Nilson, Rev. Dr. Francis A. Sullivan, Rev. Dr. George Tavard, Dr. John Borelli (staff for the USCCB) and Rev. Dirk Reinken and Mr. Benjamin Brown taking minutes. This was the 54th meeting of ARC-USA since its foundation in 1965.
ARC-USA’s response acknowledges how The Gift of Authority bases “its reflections on authority upon the Christological substance of the Gospel: the Good News of Jesus Christ who is God’s ‘Yes’ to humanity and humanity’s ‘Amen’ to God’s Truth.” ARC-USA concludes that, with regard to how certain authoritative judgments in respect to the content of the faith are preserved from error, the “Christological perspective adds further depth to its consideration of this issue.” However, noting that “Anglicans have serious reservations about the doctrine of infallibility,” the response asked for further clarification of the doctrine of infallibility and its relationship to indefectibility. ARC-USA devoted four paragraphs to naming certain issues needing investigation if Anglicans and Catholics are to take further steps towards full communion. These issues include identifying the essential elements for full communion, the relationship between Anglican Churches and the Bishop of Rome. ARC-USA joined The Gift of Authority in suggesting ways for Anglicans and Catholics to make more visible the communion they already share. These include several ways for joint consultation and presence in the conciliar structures of the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church.
For further information, contact Bishop Christopher Epting 212 716-6220 and Dr. John Borelli 202 541-3020.