Dated: 11 Mar. 1994
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Letter of Cardinal Cassidy to the Co-Chairmen of ARCIC-II
Bishop Mark Santer, Bishop of Birmingham and Bishop Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Bishop of Arundel and Brighton
March 11th, 1994
On September 4th last, you sent me a document containing “Clarifications of Certain Aspects of the Agreed Statements on Eucharist and Ministry” which had been submitted to and approved by the ARCIC-II meeting taking place in Venice at that time.
This document has been examined by the appropriate dicasteries of the Holy See and I am now in a position to assure you that the said clarifications have indeed thrown new light on the questions concerning Eucharist and Ministry in the Final Report of ARCIC-I for which further study had been requested.
The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity is therefore most grateful to the members of ARCIC-II, and to those from ARCIC-I who prepared these clarifications. The agreement reached on Eucharist and Ministry by ARCIC-I is thus greatly strengthened and no further study would seem to be required at this stage.
There is one observation that I should like to bring to your notice in this connection. It concerns the question of Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament, and in particular the comparison which is made on page 4 of the Clarifications between the practice of the Orthodox Churches (and the Catholic Churches of Eastern rite) and that of the Anglican communion. Orthodox and Eastern-rite Catholics have a very clear and uniform practice concerning the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament. While there are differences in respect to devotions connected with the Reserved Sacrament, adoration of the Reserved Sacrament is normal for both Orthodox and Greek-Catholics.
The Clarifications do not seem to make clear that this can be said unreservedly and uniformly for Anglicans. In fact the Clarifications state that “provision for the reservation of the Sacrament is found within the Anglican Church according to pastoral circumstances” and that “in the Church of England, for example, this is regulated by the faculty jurisdiction of the diocesan bishop”. It seems important to stress that the Response of the Holy See to the Final Report was concerned not with the question of devotions associated with Christ’s presence in the Reserved Sacrament, but with the implications of diverse Anglican practice regarding Reservation itself and attitudes towards the Reserved Sacrament.
The remarkable consensus reached up to now on the themes dealt with by ARCIC-I will only be able to be seen in its full light and importance as the work of ARCIC-II proceeds. This would appear to be particularly the case in respect of the study of the questions still open in relation to the third part of the Final Report of ARCIC-I, dealing with Authority in the Church. It would seem urgent, then, that this question be taken up as soon as possible by ARCIC-II.
With the expression of my deep esteem and kind personal greetings,
Yours sincerely in the Lord,
Edward Idris Cardinal Cassidy
President, Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity