Ed Thornton writes:
The Ordinariate had not inflicted “ecumenical damage” or “in any way dampened” the third phase of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC III), the Commission’s Anglican co-chairman said on Thursday of last week, the last day of its meeting in Italy.
The Archbishop of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, the Most Revd David Moxon, said: “It is a pastoral response from the Holy See to people who made an application to the Vatican. It is a relatively small number of people compared with the hundreds of thousands, or millions, that we represent at ARCIC III.”
The RC co-chairman, the Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Revd Bernard Longley, said that the Ordinariate had not been discussed in formal talks, but that the 18 members had spent “a good evening” discussing it. They had also talked about the Anglican Covenant after a presentation by the Anglican Communion Office.
In response to the programme set out by Pope Benedict XVI and the Archbishop of Canterbury in 2006, the formal talks focused mainly on “the Church as Communion, local and universal”, and “how, in communion, the local and universal Church come to discern the proper teaching of ethics”.
The Commission had also been asked to re-examine how the “commitment to the common goal of the restoration of complete communion in faith and sacramental life” is to be understood today, and to present ARCIC II’s work (1983 to 2007).
A communiqué released last Friday said that the participants of ARCIC III were “particularly helped by the approach of ‘receptive ecumenism’, which seeks to make ecumenical progress by learning from our partner, rather than simply asking our partner to learn from us”. This represented “a shift in approach to national and international church relations”.
ARCIC III had “decided that it will address the two principal topics in a single document. It has drawn up a plan for its work that views the Church above all in the light of its rootedness in Christ through the Paschal Mystery. This focus on Jesus Christ, human and divine, gives the Commission a creative way to view the relationship between the local and universal in communion.”
In a statement issued during the meeting, the Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Revd Christopher Hill, who chairs the Church of England’s Council for Christian Unity and is a member of ARCIC III, said: “The commission is looking at how the Church makes important decisions; do we make local decisions, or do we await a wider global consensus? There are varied views on all sides. We are taking very seriously how the Churches receive each other and our mutual gifts.”
Archbishop Longley said that the Commission was “beginning to get a better idea about the shape of the work”. He expected ARCIC III not to take as long as ARCIC II. “The brief we have is focused and fairly precise; we hope to be able to accomplish it in a more modest time.”
With Bishop Hill, the ten Anglican members of ARCIC III include the theologian Dr Paula Gooder, and the Area Bishop of Trent-Durham, in Toronto diocese, the Rt Revd Linda Nicholls, appointed to ARCIC earlier this year (News, 11 February).