New ARCIC document on ecclesiology

The Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) held its 7th meeting recently and will be publishing a document next year after it passes through the various official channels of the respective bodies.

Here’s news from the Anglican Communion website:

Anglicans and Roman Catholics should see in each other “a community in which the Holy Spirit is alive and active,” the latest communiqué from the official ecumenical dialogue between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church says.

Members of the third-phase of the Anglican – Roman Catholic International Commission (Arcic) met in the central German city of Erfurt early this month for their seventh meeting. They chose to meet in the city to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation – it is here that Martin Luther was ordained and lived as a monk.

During their meeting, the members of Arcic agreed the text of a new statement looking at Anglican and Roman Catholic ecclesiology. Walking Together on the Way: Learning to be Church – Local, Regional, Universal, to be known as The Erfurt Document, will be published next year.

The article links to the official communique in pdf.

Anglo-Catholics used to have such hope in the early dialogues, no?

A journalist asked me the other day whether any Ordinariate people are involved in these dialogues.   To be honest, I don’t know, but my hasty response was:  “Are you kidding?”

Not because I oppose dialogue by any means, but my point is we may be seen as an obstacle to ecumenical talks with Anglicans, the same way Byzantine Catholics are not involved with Vatican talks with the Russian Orthodox.

I am reminded of something I read in Fr. Louis Bouyer’s Memoirs about how he was excluded from talks with ecumenical partners involved in the Second Vatican Council.  Bouyer was a Lutheran convert to the Catholic faith and knew personally and had good relations with leading Protestant theologians such as Oscar Cullmann but he remarked that his having become a Catholic was now seen as an obstacle.

Oh well!


1 thought on “New ARCIC document on ecclesiology

  1. The Vatican understands unity in faith as the essential element of reconciliation with other Christian denominations (we believe as a church because each member ostensibly believes individually), and thus regards ecumenical dialog as the only means to resolve doctrinal differences that still exist. Thus, there is great hope in the fact that ecumenical dialog between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion is continuing in spite of actions within the latter body that create new doctrinal differences requiring resolution.

    My guess is that the clergy of the ordinariates have not yet had the time to obtain pontifical doctorates in sacred theology that would qualify them to be Catholic participants in ecumenical dialog, and I am not aware of any ordinariate clergy who might be pursuing such degrees. But whether clergy of the ordinariates are participants in this dialog or not, the ordinariates play a very important role in ecumenism simply by existing as a living example of how a separated ecclesial community can come into the full communion of the Catholic Church to preserve and sustain its liturgical and pastoral traditions and practices, and their organic pastoral leadership, within the Catholic Church. In particular, the ordinariate structure resolves the issue of married bishop in Anglican, Lutheran, and Methodist bodies, showing how they can maintain their episcopal role without receiving Catholic episcopal ordination. This clearly will diminish apprehension among the separated bodies when the remaining doctrinal issues are resolved.

    The situation with the so-called “uniate” churches of Byzantine Rite in dialog with the Orthodox Communion is much more complex, as these bodies split from the Orthodox Communion after the Great Schism to return to full communion with Rome. Thus, our Orthodox brethren rightfully hold that a reconciliation should include restoration of these bodies to their proper place within the current Orthodox hierarchy. My guess is that such a restoration will happen in due course, but probably in a gradual manner after the reconciliation of the churches of the Orthodox Communion.

    Additionally, we need to realize that the Russian Orthodox Church is somewhat of a special case within Orthodox Christianity. The Patriarch of Moscow was the first to claim autonomy from the Ecumenical Patriarch and to be recognized as autocephalous back in the fifteenth century, and has exercised considerable independence ever since, even claiming that it should assume the role of the ecumenical patriarchate because it is the largest of the autocephalous Orthodox churches. As a result, relations between the Patriarch of Moscow and the Ecumenical Patriarch have been tense, at times even bordering on a schism within the Orthodox Communion. Since the Second Vatican Council, the Patriarch of Moscow has engaged in a separate process of ecumenical dialog with the Vatican from that of the Ecumenical Patriarch. All of the other autocephalous churches of the Orthodox Communion are willing participants in the dialog under the auspices of the Ecumenical Patriarch. And even here, the uniate sui juris ritual churches give witness as to how the Byzantine Rite can sustain their patrimony and even their form of governance within the Catholic Church. The synods of larger sui juris ritual churches actually elect their bishops, including their patriarch or major archbishop, in the same manner as the synods of the autocephalous churches of the Orthodox Communion, with the pope only “giving his assent” in official recognition thereof.

    Here, I might add that ecumenical dialog with the churches of the Orthodox Communion and with the ancient oriental churches has progressed very well. It’s possible that reconciliation with these bodies could happen very soon. The progress of ecumenical dialog and collaboration with the Assyrian Church of the East is particularly noteworthy: an agreement between the synod of the synods of the Chaldean Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East, which obviously has the Vatican’s tacit approval, provides for full pastoral care, including routine reception of the sacraments, for each others’ members as a matter of pastoral necessity driven by the current political situation enabling persecution in their homeland.



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