National ARC survey

Survey of National & Regional ARCs: Much to Teach and Much to Learn

In the autumn of 2012 a questionnaire was sent by the Co-chairmen of the International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission on Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) to each of the existing national Anglican Roman Catholic (ARC) dialogue groups around the world. The purpose of the survey was to get a sense of the history of the ARCs and to collect and share information about their current work. Responses came in from Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia, Australia, Belgium, Canada, England, France, India, Ireland, Japan, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, and the United States of America.

IARCCUM is indebted to Mary Reath, a former Governor of the Anglican Centre in Rome, who was the consultant to IARCCUM for this survey project and who spent many hours compiling and analysing the results.

The results of the survey are below in summary form. What emerged from the survey is a wide and rich array of experiences, good practices, materials, stories, ideas, and observations. There is an enthusiasm across the globe for harnessing and coordinating the work that has been going on in national and regional ARC groups, in some cases for over 40 years. There is a clear desire to make more tangible the link between the work of ARCIC and national and regional ARCs.

A Few Highlights from the Survey Results

There are many similarities among the ARCs. Most groups meet twice a year for a day or two, and most have been meeting for 30 years or more. Most ARCs have 5-6 members from each Church, chosen for a defined term and chosen for their ecumenical expertise. There is high degree of commitment among the members. Most responses specifically expressed appreciation for being asked about their work. There was a universally expressed desire for ARCs around the world to be in touch with each other.

Many groups expressed a concern about their work: Their Churches support them financially, but there isn’t a lot of broad knowledge or even celebration of their accomplishments. This quote from the ARC in Belgium, similar to other responses, summarises the sense of discouragement in this area:

The Belgian ARC is not well known in Belgium except by the people who are interested in ecumenism. It is little known beyond the sphere of its own activities. Fewer and fewer people show a real interest in ecumenism and in Church in general.

The mandates of ARCs vary. Some have theological mandates and are expected to produce papers for their bishops. For example, since 2008 ARC/USA has been addressing the theme of “Ecclesiology and Moral Discernment: Common Ground and Divergences.” It expects to have its work completed in 2014. Other ARCs have a freer mandate and chose to work on topics picked out from contemporary ecumenical thought. Exploring the meaning of Receptive Ecumenism is one such current topic being studied. Some ARCs have produced study guides to the ARCIC documents. Some have produced liturgies for varying occasions: Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia has prepared a liturgy for joint ecumenical use on Ash Wednesday, for instance.

It is worthwhile to note that both Canada and Ireland have separate bishops’ ARCs. Ireland’s is new and was formed as a direct result of IARCCUM’s recommendation in Growing Together in Unity and Mission, paragraph 108. Canada’s ARC and its bishops’ ARC meet together once a year.

The difficulties of promoting the reception of ARCIC and IARCCUM’s work was frequently mentioned. ARC Canada noted the following:

ARC Canada sees one of its tasks as helping people in our country understand the work of ARCIC. This is one of the principles underlying the dialogue’s current apologetics/catechetical project: making public the degree of faith our two churches share.

Some ground-breaking activity was also reported. For instance, it is exciting to note that in 2013 the Anglican Province of Papua New Guinea and the Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands celebrated the 10th anniversary of a covenant between the Churches. Twice in the past, an Anglican bishop has joined his Roman Catholic bishop brothers on their ad limina visit to Rome.

We encourage you to explore this summary of ARC work from around the world. In the appendix of material you will find useful liturgies for public ecumenical events, study guides for parish use, and perhaps creative ideas to write about or be inspired by.

Each ARC has much to teach and we all have much to learn from each other.

+Donald Bolen

+David Hamid

IARCCUM Co-Chairs, March 2014


A sample of current ARC projects, activities and work on reception from around the world

These are brief snapshots taken from some of the country responses to the survey, which indicate the breadth of work and focus of these ARC bodies. Suggestions and ideas for what IARCCUM might offer to the ARC, and some stories and anecdotes from the regions are in boxes.

A list of documents produced by the ARCs and mentioned in the responses to the survey is in the Appendix.

Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia

A 20 minute DVD would be very helpful, outlining the achievements of ARCIC and the work of IARCCUM. It could focus on people and places and look at what is happening around the world in Anglican/Roman Catholic relations.”

Since its first meeting in 1983, ARCCANZ continues to study official Anglican and Roman Catholic documents with reviews by Anglican and Catholic members, and to follow the progress of ARCIC. Joint liturgies are planned for use nationally. A 4-week study course on the ARCIC statement Church as Communion, has been prepared. Discussion continues on current points of interest that impact the Church’s life. The committee promotes awareness of each Church’s events, reflects on Anglican and Catholic bishops’ activities in the country and exchanges other information of interest including international issues in the lives of both Churches. A recent speaking tour by Professor Paul Murray was arranged and two members recently presented an overview of ARCCANZ in an evening session open to the public.


IARCCUM could assist by helping us to communicate with other ARC’s throughout the world”.

Established in 1993, Australian ARC has met twice a year, alternating between a Roman Catholic and an Anglican venue, usually in the Melbourne area. The focus has been three-fold: the promotion of the work of ARCIC, the development of contacts with other national ARC’s, and the consideration of matters of particular concern in Australia including the family, mixed marriages, co-operating parishes and ministries. A current which was due for completion in 2013 is a document on “Holiness – Anglicans and Catholics Reflecting on Holiness from within the Australian Context”.

Discussions have been held on a wide range of significant documents produced internationally by each community, such as the Anglican Virginia Report (1997), and Windsor Report (2004), and the Roman Catholic The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church” (1993) and Ecclesia de Eucharistia (2003).

“Not only does [ARC]help us to get a more accurate picture of what is happening in each other’s communities…hearing from people who are going through the issues, successes, failures or difficulties in their own communities. There is absolutely no substitute for that”.

Shared pastoral themes such as secularism and inter-church marriages and families are explored. A range of studies and documents have been published such as “The Saints and Christian Prayer” (1997) and “The Challenge of Gospel Authority” (2004).


“The reports of Belgian ARC are a ‘mine’ of anecdotes, friendship stories, successes and failures. Perhaps once you have set up a website forum or similar, we could rack our brains and post them there too”.

Meetings began in 1968 and over these years a very wide range of activities have been held, from examination of ARCIC texts to studies on such themes as mixed marriages, charismatic renewal, ordination of women, collegiality and missiology. Present work is about to start on the theme of Receptive Ecumenism. There is also very much interest in the work which is being undertaken by ARCIC III concerning the link between the universal and the local Church.

Belgium benefits from having a member of ARCIC III on the (RC) Bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical Affairs, Professor Adalbert Denaux, who is able to give Belgian ARC details about what is being discussed in ARCIC III itself.

Roman Catholic members are appointed by the Bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical Affairs. They report to this Committee every four months and a general report of activities is sent to Rome each year. Anglican members submit an annual report to the Anglican Suffragan Bishop in Europe, who reports to Lambeth Palace each year on Belgian ARC activities.

A news magazine is published every term.


Sharing resources among the national ARCs will be valuable. The idea of picking one theme a year and promoting that theme will be helpful. There is also some hope that IARCCUM will give some attention to the ecumenical dimension of theological formation in our churches’ seminaries and theological colleges”.

ARC Canada has been meeting continuously since 1971 (and ARC Canada bishops since 1975). 40 years of ARC dialogue were commemorated at a special anniversary liturgy of ecumenical vespers held at St Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal in 2011, and the journal Ecumenism issued a special edition containing essays and reflections on these years.

The dialogue has always had a doctrinal focus, and study guides on Salvation and the Church, Life in Christ, and The Gift of Authority have been produced as well as a response to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s declarationDominus Iesus. But pastoral issues, such as inter-church marriage or eucharistic sharing have been addressed as the need has arisen. The current project is the creation of an ecumenical apologetics/catechetical resource, to assist with common witness in today’s popular culture.


“English ARC has much interest and hope in the work and goals of IARCCUM and closer collaboration would be to our mutual advantage and help to ensure a ‘joined-up’ approach to achieving our goal. ‘Growing Together in Unity and Mission’ was a great encouragement to those who have been working patiently for many years in the cause of Christian unity. This questionnaire is itself a first step to ever-closer communication and co-operation to our mutual advantage.”

The first meeting was in 1970. English ARC’s present 5-year phase focusses on two main areas: (1) how best to evangelise within the context of an increasingly strong and sometimes militant secularist culture and, (2) how best to give joint witness on ethical/social issues in service of the common good. In addition, English ARC feels a responsibility for ecumenical formation and for fostering ecumenism (including spiritual ecumenism) at the local level. It stands ready to enter into dialogue with ARCIC and to respond to and promote the work of ARCIC. It has produced some study guides to earlier ARCIC agreed texts.

Storytelling has proved a very effective, engaging and non-threatening way of sharing personal experiences of the ecumenical journey. A series of personal reflections on ‘Spiritual Communion’ by members of English ARC is available on the English ARC webpage.”

Recently, a more practically-focussed and outward-looking agenda has been adopted.


“French ARC is reported on in both national and regional Anglican synods and in the various [Anglican] chaplaincies throughout France. It is also spoken about during meetings of the Conseil pour l’unité des chrétiens of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, and during regional gatherings of Catholic diocesan ecumenical officers.

French ARC has been meeting since 1970. Recent study of Growing Together in Unity and Mission inspired the ARC to look at the Daily Office as a shared gift of Anglican and Roman Catholic communities, and has prepared material for Daily Prayer to be used in ecumenical gatherings. One significant publication is Twinnings and Exchanges. Guidelines proposed by the Anglican – Roman Catholic Committees of France and England / Jumelages et échanges. Indications proposes par les Comités mixtes Anglican-Catholique de France et d’Angleterre (1990). It is also notable that ttranslations of Church of England liturgies into French have been prepared by members of the French ARC.


Joint meetings have only been held since 2011, inspired by the expectations expressed by IARCCUM for joint meetings of bishops. Topics discussed include the demands of baptism, priestly formation and training and the outworking of the Dublin (RC) Eucharistic Congress. There is an interest growing on the subject of receptive ecumenism.


A long history of conversations is leading to the formation of a joint commission of the Roman Catholic Church and the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (The Anglican Church in Japan). Japanese translation of all ARCIC documents, including Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ has been completed and in 2008 a joint service to celebrate 40 years of ARCIC was held, involving all bishops of both Churches, in St Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral in Tokyo. Attention is now turning to the IARCCUM report Growing Together in Unity and Mission with a particular focus on the second section containing practical suggestions, so see what might be done in the Japanese context.

Papua New Guinea

“IARCCUM could put one national ARC in touch with another one to facilitate or organize international pilgrimages and provide local housing for pilgrims. Sharing the results of this survey should help national ARCs to work more closely together. Could IARCCUM provide funding for local projects or facilitate sharing of financial resources between wealthy and poor national ARCs?”

The ARC first met in 1970. From 1974 to 1986 it was dormant, but has been meeting since then on a regular basis. Studies have been held on baptism, marriage, holy orders and Papal Primacy. From 1995 attention was focused on drafting a Covenant between the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches in PNG, which was signed in 2003. In 2013 the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Covenant included study days on the Covenant in areas where there is a strong Anglican as well as Catholic presence.

“Perhaps the most noteworthy story of friendship and success has been the participation of an Anglican bishop in the ad limina visit to Rome. While he did not attend all the sessions with various dicasteries, he was welcomed warmly at most of them and enjoyed the friendship with his Catholic bishop brothers”.

The October 2012 meeting devoted time to follow-up and reflect on the visit of Archbishop Rowan Williams, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, to Papua New Guinea earlier that month. Reflections continue on Growing Together in Unity and Mission. The issue of reception is explored at the “grassroots” level where Anglican and Catholic parishes located near each other, study together The Gift of Authority which has already been translated in PNG Tok Pisin with study questions.

An impressive range of commentaries and study guides on ARCIC documents have been produced over the years.

The memorial of the Anglican and Catholic martyrs of World War II and a day of prayer for unity on the Sunday closest to the anniversary of the signing of the Covenant – are in both the Catholic and Anglican national liturgical calendars.

Sri Lanka

“Send relevant documents not only to the Co-Secretaries of ARCSRILC but also to the President of the Sri Lanka Bishop’s Conference (RC) and the Presiding Bishop of the Anglican General Assembly”.

ARC began in 1984, but has had two dormant periods. It has been meeting again since 2006.

For over 20 years after Final Report of ARCIC I and during the period when of ARCIC II was working and publishing there was much enthusiasm and free discussion enabling Anglicans and Roman Catholics to get to know each other. Since 2008, the discussions have been restrained and centred largely on peace and justice issues as opposed to a doctrinal focus.

One annual activity is the National Council of Churches/Roman Catholic United Service in Unity Week. A similar service also takes place in some provinces. United Carol Services and Easter Services have been held at the grass roots level in some places.

The ARCIC documents were received well but work is needed to popularize these statements. The IARCCUM Growing Together in Unity and Mission of 2006 was also discussed and well received, following which a statement was formulated for common action to the bishops of both Churches. However, the RC Bishops’ Conference has expressed reservations about these proposed common actions.

United States of America

“A constant source of frustration is the disconnection between ARC-USA and ARCIC. Materials sent to Canterbury and the Vatican were often not even responded to. This is a great shame and a lost opportunity. It is particularly frustrating because ARC-USA, despite times of tension, has never missed a meeting while ARCIC has been officially suspended more than once”.

“We have learned much from one another theologically, liturgically, and even politically. We got to know how one another’s communion actually works. Sharing daily in each tradition’s Liturgy of the Hours and even celebrating a daily Eucharist together while respecting each one’s disciplines were particular highlights”.

ARC-USA first met in 1965. 15 agreed statements have been produced. In 1994 there was a very successful joint pilgrimage of bishops from the Roman Catholic Church and the Episcopal Church to Canterbury and Rome. The current round of ARC-USA is addressing the theme, “Ecclesiology and Moral Discernment: Common Ground and Divergences”. This work started in 2008 and should be concluded in 2014.

At the end of each round the members make recommendations regarding the theme for the next round. This may be accepted or not by the two bodies sponsoring the dialogue, in the case of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs. For Episcopalians, this is handled by the Deputy for Ecumenical Affairs, in consultation with the Bishops’ Ecumenical Committee.

Appendix: Summary of published and/or available documents

These documents were identified by the national ARCs in their responses to the survey. IARCCUM is collecting these and other documents from national ARCs. They will be posted on this website ( as they become available electronically.

Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia

Ash Wednesday and Advent joint liturgies.

A 4-week study course on the agreed ARCIC statement Church as Communion.

The Anglican and Catholic bishops on ARCCANZ have provided introductions to the joint liturgies and to the ‘Church as Communion’ course.


Ministry on the Way: Collected papers on Ministry from the Australian Anglican and Roman Catholic Conversation (1996)

The Saints and Christian Prayer (1997)

The Challenge of Gospel Authority (2004)

Why the Church? (2007)

The Church as Communion: A Discussion resource for Anglicans and Roman Catholics (2004)

Material has also been produced for the Anglican Roman Catholic Day of Prayer for Reconciliation, 4th November.


Common statements on the encyclical Ut Unum Sint and on Growing Together in Unity and Mission.

Twinned (RC) Belgian and (Anglican) English parishes produced liturgies for their ecumenical gatherings.

A detailed year by year description of Belgian ARC meetings is available, providing a snapshot of developments in Anglican-Roman Catholic relations in Belgium over the years.

An annual news magazine is published


Responses and study guides on some of the ARCIC agreed statements (e.g. Study Guide to the Final Report of the Anglican-RC International Commission, published jointly by the Catholic Truth Society and the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge in 1982).


Twinnings and Exchanges. Guidelines proposed by the Anglican- Roman Catholic Committees of France and England / Jumelages et échanges. Indications proposées par les Comités mixtes Anglican-Catholique de France et d’Angleterre (1990).

Translations of Church of England liturgies into French were prepared by members of the French ARC. Some of these have now been approved by the Church of England House of Bishops for liturgical use.

Papua New Guinea

A booklet in English and PNG Tok Pisin was published in 2009 containing the Covenant [2003], Agreed Statement on Baptism [2003], Agreed Statement on Marriage [2009] and a Joint Pastoral Letter on Marriage [2006]. Study questions are included with the statement on marriage.

Murphy, Patrick (ed). Report: the Work of the Joint Commission of the Anglican and Catholic Churches in Papua New Guinea 1970-1973 (Port Moresby: 1974) [a 28 page summary of joint discussions in 14 meetings over a 3 year period.]

Aerts, Theo (ed). Romans and Anglicans in Papua New Guinea (Liturgical Catechetical Institute, Goroka PNG: 1991) [a 123 page history of the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches in Papua New Guinea.]

Aerts, Theo (ed). The Martyrs of Papua New Guinea: 333 Missionary Lives Lost During World War II (University of PNG, Port Moresby: 1994) [276 pages]

Aerts, Theo and Ramsden, Peter (eds). Studies and Statements on Romans and Anglicans in Papua New Guinea Part I (Port Moresby: 1995). The contents:

Aerts, Theo and Ramsden, Peter (eds). Studies and Statements on Romans and Anglicans in Papua New Guinea Part II (Port Moresby: 1995). The contents:

Aerts, Theo and Ramsden, Peter (eds). Studies and Statements on Romans and Anglicans in Papua New Guinea Part III (Port Moresby: 1996). The contents:

Aerts, Theo (ed). Studies and Statements on Romans and Anglicans in Papua New Guinea Part IV (Port Moresby: 1996). The contents:

ARC PNG. A Covenant, Agreed Statements and a Pastoral Letter of the Catholic and Anglican Bishops of Papua New Guinea (privately printed: 2009).

A simple English abridged version and Tok Pisin version of The Gift of Authority with study questions in English.

A prayer service to remember the signing of the Covenant.

United States of America

ARC IV Statement on the Eucharist (May 29, 1967)

ARC VII Statement (December 8-11, 1969)

Doctrinal Agreement and Christian Unity: Methodological Considerations (January 23, 1972)

Agreed Statement on the Purpose of the Church (October 31, 1975)

Statement on the Ordination of Women (November 7, 1975)

Where We Are: A Challenge for the Future. A Twelve-Year Report (August 12, 1977)

Images of God: Reflections on Christian Anthropology (July 1983)

Anglican Orders: A Report on the Evolving Context for their Evaluation in the Roman Catholic Church (May 8, 1990)

A Recommitment to Full Communion (June 17, 1992)

How Can We Recognize “Substantial Agreement”? (April 5, 1993)

Five Affirmations on the Eucharist as Sacrifice (January 6, 1994)

Christian Ethics in Ecumenical Dialogue: Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission II and Recent Papal Teachings (June 22, 1995)

Agreed Report on the Local/Universal Church (November 15, 1999)

Response of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Consultation in the USA to the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission’s “The Gift of Authority” (March 29, 2003)

ARCUSA Response to “Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ” (October 20, 2007)

Ecclesiology and Moral Discernment: Seeking a Unified Moral Witness (April 22, 2014)