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The 81st meeting of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Theological Consultation in the United States of America (ARC-USA) met at the Nicholas Center in the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago from December 16-18, 2019, hosted by the Episcopal Church’s Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations.
A central focus of this meeting was reconciliation in biblical, liturgical, ecclesiastical, sacramental, social, and theological contexts.
Episcopalians present were the Right Reverend Dr. John Bauerschmidt (co-chair, Bishop of Tennessee), the Reverend Dr. Michael Cover, the Reverend Dr. Dan Joslyn-Siemiatkoski, Dr. John Kiess, Dr. Christopher Wells, the Reverend Dr. Denise Yarbrough, and Mr. Richard Mammana (staff). The Right Reverend Catherine Waynick (retired, Indianapolis) sent regrets. The Right Reverend Jeffrey Lee, Bishop of Chicago, brought greetings of welcome from his diocese.
Roman Catholics present were the Most Reverend John Michael Botean (Romanian Catholic Eparchy of St George in Canton, co-chair), Dr. Kimberly Belcher, the Reverend Dr. William O’Neill SJ (remotely from Nairobi), the Reverend Dr. Thomas Rausch SJ, Dr. Barbara Sain (remotely from Minneapolis), and the Reverend Dr. Ron Roberson CSP (staff). The Reverend Walter Kedjierski, Executive Director of Secretariat of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, attended for the first two days. Dr. Samuel Thomas sent regrets.
The Episcopal Church and Roman Catholic groups met separately in caucus once to discuss internal matters related to the dialogue.
Against a background of daily worship and meals at the Nicholas Center, the dialogue continued its conversations about reconciliation. Dr. Sain, Dr. Cover, Dr. Rausch, Dr. Kiess, and Dr. Wells each presented on aspects of reconciliation in biblical, liturgical, ecclesiastical, sacramental, social, and theological contexts. A drafting group has begun preparation of an agreed statement on reconciliation.
ARC-USA is also preparing a response to the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) 2017 document Walking Together on the Way: Learning to be the Church – Local, Regional, Universal, the first international Anglican-Roman Catholic statement since 2004.
Mr. Mammana offered a briefing on several ecumenical matters before the 2021 General Convention, including a proposal for full communion with the United Methodist Church, and a four-way mutual recognition of full communion agreements among The Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, and the Anglican Church of Canada.
The Episcopal Church and Roman Catholic Church have been in local dialogue for more than 50 years through ARC-USA, and on the international level through the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC). In a common declaration signed in 2006 by Rowan Williams, then Archbishop of Canterbury, and Pope Benedict XVI, the two leaders renewed the historic commitment to the goal of “full visible communion in the truth of Christ.” ARC-USA’s conversations maintain open communication between the two churches with this objective.
The consultation has previously produced documents on Ecclesiology and Moral Discernment (2014), a response to Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ (2007), and A Pastoral Guide for Understanding Our Two Churches (2007).
ARC-USA will meet next April 15-17, 2020 at the Spiritual Life Center of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wichita in Bel Aire, Kansas.