WASHINGTON (October 3, 2000) — Meeting for the 50th time since the first meeting in June 1965, the Anglican-Roman Catholic Consultation in the United States (ARC-USA) convened at the College of Preachers, Washington, DC, September 21-24, 2000. Taking special note of the occasion, dialogue members and their guests gathered for choral evensong at The Washington National Cathedral on Friday evening, September 22, and hosted a reception and banquet afterwards. Bishop John J. Snyder (Diocese of St. Augustine), Catholic co-chairman of ARC-USA, preached the homily at the special evensong, and Bishop Arthur A. Vogel, retired bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of West Missouri and a member of ARC-USA from its beginning until 1984, was the dinner speaker.
At the final session of the meeting, ARC-USA agreed to a communique, the full text of which appears below.
Reflecting on the Scriptural lessons for the evensong (Is. 35:1-10 and Lk 7:18-23), Bishop Snyder observed “that Isaiah’s vision of God’s deliverance and the Lukan Gospel speak not only of hope, promise and fulfillment but arise in response to the insidious temptations to discouragement, disillusionment and disappointment.” Observing that “after a generation of remarkable ecumenical progress we still remain sadly separate,” Bishop Snyder called attention to the lessons: “In our successes and failures in working towards the visible unity of Christ’s Church, may we always remember that Jesus’ answer to the broken and fragile, the blind, the dead, the unclean is that we find the One in Him, and that as his disciples we have no choice but his will to be One.”
With stories and details from the historical record, Bishop Vogel reminded everyone of the ground-breaking nature of the early meetings and agreements between Anglicans and Roman Catholics. In his review, he noted from time to time a few sensitive points in the early years, such as the practice of conditional baptism, issues related to ordination, and the relationship between the national and international dialogues. He concluded with encouragement to the current members of the dialogue to keep up the good work and maintain the goal of full visible communion.
During its working sessions, the dialogue continued its examination of the exercise of authority in the two communions with discussion of a paper by the Rev. Dr. Ellen Wondra on the modes and national structures of authority in the Episcopal Church. For several meetings, the dialogue has been reviewing how authority is exercised in the provinces of the Anglican Communion (especially the Episcopal Church) and national conferences of bishops in the Roman Catholic Church, in relation both to local dioceses and to the worldwide communion. Members are anticipating the preparation of an agreed report similar to their last statement, an agreed report on the local/universal church, released last year and available on church websites and in the June 22, 2000, issue of Origins.
Bishop Ted Gulick (Kentucky), Anglican co-chair of the dialogue, and Archbishop William J. Levada (San Francisco), an invited guest to the 50th meeting, together reported on the special meeting of Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops from 13 countries, convened by Cardinal Edward Cassidy and Archbishop George Carey (Canterbury), near Toronto, Canada, in May 2000. Members discussed the meeting with the two U.S. representatives and reviewed in detail “Communion in Mission” and the “Action Plan” resulting from the meeting. This was immediately followed by a candid discussion of Dominus Jesus and related materials recently released by the Holy See. The dialogue devoted other sessions to a proposal to prepare materials to aid church-wide reception of agreements on Eucharist and ministry which have been clarified and accepted, to discussion of an appropriate way respond to the international dialogue’s most recent text, The Gift of Authority, and to plans for another project on the relationship between culture and authority.
ARC-USA is now on a schedule of semi-annual meetings. Members will gather in Baltimore in March 2001 for the next meeting. At the final session of the meeting, ARC-USA agreed to the following communiqué:
At its 50th meeting in September 2000 the Anglican-Roman Catholic Consultation in the United States (ARC-USA) celebrated and reaffirmed the special relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion as expressed at the Second Vatican Council and the Lambeth Conferences.
At a choral Evensong at The Washington National Cathedral to give thanks to God for this occasion, the Most Rev. John Snyder, Roman Catholic Co-chair of the dialogue, preached a homily in which he summed up the experience of the dialogue participants. Bishop Snyder said “our collaboration has provided me with a rare view of the richness and variety of the church’s life, a glimpse of the passion for ecclesial union for which we strive, and a source of great hope, comfort and joy.” He highlighted the substantial agreements which have been achieved by the more than thirty-five years of official dialogue in the United States and also recognized the obstacles that remain on the road to the full visible unity of the Church.
ARC-USA is heartened by reports from two members who attended the historic meeting of Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops from thirteen countries, convened by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, gathered in Mississauga, Ontario, in May 2000. The members of ARC-USA rejoice that the bishops could together declare that “a sense of mutual interdependence in the Body of Christ has been reached” and that “we have moved much closer to the goal of full visible communion than we had at first dared to believe.” A significant outcome of the bishops’ meeting is a new Joint Unity Commission to promote reunion efforts. ARC-USA urges the Pontifical Council and the Anglican Communion Office to establish this commission as soon as possible so that it may, among other tasks, prepare a joint Anglican/Roman Catholic Declaration of Agreement on the Apostolic Faith which we both profess.
On the occasion of this 50th meeting, the members of ARC-USA issue an invitation to a new generation of Anglicans and Roman Catholics. We ask them to join in the ecumenical enterprise which continues to enrich our faith, enlarge our vision, and energize our joint commitment to the mission of Jesus Christ in the world.
For the members of ARC-USA, this dialogue has been one not only of addressing difficult matters that concern our churches but also of experiencing signs and symbols that have encouraged us along the way. Among these ARC-USA recalls with particular gratitude Paul VI‘s reference to the Anglican Communion as “ever beloved sister” and his symbolic gesture of presenting his own episcopal ring to the one hundredth Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey. We also recall the invitation of Archbishop Robert Runcie to John Paul II to join him in leading worship in Canterbury cathedral and Archbishop George Carey’s participation at the side of the Pope in the opening of the Holy Door inaugurating this Jubilee year.
May the grace of this Jubilee year lead to that full communion which is our Lord’s prayer, our task and the Spirit’s gift.