The members of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) gathered at Palazzola (the Villa of the Venerable English College) near Rome between 10th and 15th November 2005, for their fourth meeting. The meeting was hosted by the Anglican Communion Office, and with the kind assistance of the Venerable English College.
The Commission is responsible to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Anglican Consultative Council. Its task is to carry forward the work arising from the conference of Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops held at Mississauga in 2000, finding practical ways to express and implement the fruits of the dialogue between Anglicans and Roman Catholics over the last forty years.
Since the last meeting of the Commission in 2003, the Anglican Communion has entered a period of dispute and reflection concerning the relationship between the churches of the Communion following developments in two of the Anglican Provinces relating to ministry by and to persons of a homosexual orientation and practice. This context had led to the postponement of the meeting planned in 2004. The chief business of the Commission at Palazzola was to review work on the project to produce a Common Statement, which had been intended at Mississauga to identify a sufficient degree of agreement in faith to enable the development of a deepened common life and mission together.
The Commission was delighted to welcome Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, for part of its meeting and was able to discuss with him various proposals for the work of the Commission in reflecting on forty years of dialogue between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church. These proposals will now be presented to the sponsors of the Commission for evaluation and action. The members of the Commission are hopeful that a suitable way will be found to celebrate the fortieth anniversary next year of the meeting in 1966 between Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey, the 100th Archbishop of Canterbury, and the achievements of the theological dialogue which resulted from that meeting. Details of any proposals will be made public by the sponsoring bodies in due course.
In addition to the main item on the agenda, the Commission continues to work on a number of projects to communicate the extent of what has already been achieved in the dialogue between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church, particularly the work of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), and to nurture new ways of working together. Despite a realistic estimation of the current state of relations between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church, the Commission believes that the mission given us by Christ in his prayer the night before he died (cf John 17:21) obliges and compels us to seek to engage more deeply and widely in a partnership in mission, coupled with common witness and joint prayer.
The Commission was sorry to hear of the illnesses which prevented three of its members from attending the meeting, and sent their best wishes to Archbishop Alex Brunett of Seattle, Father Peter Cross of Australia, and Archbishop Peter Kwong of Hong Kong.
The members of the Commission present in Palazzola travelled to the Basilica of Saint Paul outside the Walls in Rome, in order to pray together at a Service of Vespers, hosted by the Benedictine community of the Basilica, and in which the Anglican congregations in Rome had been invited to share. Cardinal Walter Kasper presided at the service, and Archbishop Peter Carnley, the Anglican Co-Chair of ARCIC, preached. The members of the Commission are grateful to the Benedictine Community, to the choir of All Saints’ Anglican Church, and to officials of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity for their help in facilitating this celebration.
The members of IARCCUM are:
Bishop David Beetge (Bishop of the Highveld, Co-Chairman)
Archbishop Peter Carnley (Archbishop of Perth, also Co-Chairman of ARCIC)
Bishop Peter Fox (Bishop of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea)
Bishop Edwin Gulick (Bishop of Kentucky)
Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali (Bishop of Rochester, unable to be present at this meeting)
The Revd Andrew Norman (Archbishop of Canterbury’s Office)
Dr Mary Tanner
The Revd Canon Gregory Cameron (Anglican Communion Office, Co-Secretary).
Bishop John Baycroft
Bishop David Hamid (Assistant Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe).
Archbishop John Bathersby (Archbishop of Brisbane, Co-Chairman)
Archbishop Alexander Brunett (Archbishop of Seattle, unable to be at this meeting)
Bishop Anthony Farquhar (Auxiliary Bishop of Down and Connor)
Bishop Crispian Hollis (Bishop of Portsmouth)
Bishop Lucius Ugorji (Bishop of Umuahia)
The Revd Dr Peter Cross (unable to be at this meeting)
Sr Dr Donna Geernaert
The Revd Donald Bolen (Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Co-Secretary)
Monsignor Timothy Galligan
The Revd Dr Paul McPartlan
The Revd Terrie Robinson (Anglican Communion Office)
Ms Giovanna Ramon (Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity)