Anglicans and Catholics have taken first steps on road to reunion

 — Sept. 19, 198719 sept. 1987

by Rev. R.G. MacNeil, for the Ottawa Citizen

The Catholic and Anglican churches have been conducting joint studies of doctrine for the past 17 years.

The purpose is to explore the essential teachings of each church to see if there is enough common ground for an eventual reunion.

Both churches were once united in one western Christian church for 15 centuries. Their history of separation dates back four centuries to the time of the Reformation.

The joint studies began in 1970 and involved nine Roman Catholic scholars and nine from the Anglican communion.

The joint panel was called the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, or the ARCIC.

After 11 years of study, it published papers on three major topics of mutual and central concern; Eucharist, Ministry and Ordination as well as on Authority in the Church.

Since 1981, both churches have circulated these documents to their bishops around the world for study and discussion with their people. Here in Ottawa, Holy Cross Catholic Church and St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church parishioners studied and dialogued on these reports during the season of Lent in 1983.

There were also many other dialogues conducted at deeper levels as part of the evaluation of these working documents.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) spent four years in consultation on the 1981 ARCIC report with local bishops and their people as well as theologians. As a result, a detailed 24-page response was forwarded by the CCCB to the Vatican Secretariate for Christian Unity in 1985.

During the past summer, this document was made public as a resource document to assist further Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue and ecumenical education projects. Catholic response is positive and welcomes the ARCIC report’s affirmation of the many areas of belief held in common by the two churches.

Specifically, the Catholic bishops say they find the sections on Eucharistic Doctrine and on Ministry and Ordination as “consonant in substance with the faith of the Catholic church and as a sound basis for the substantial agreement of our churches on those doctrinal areas.”

However, they go on to say that this endorsement does not preclude a need for clarification and reflection on certain points.

The section of the ARCIC report on Authority in the Church also expressed “extraordinary convergence… beyond all prior expectation,” but in the view of the Catholic bishops, did not express the same depth of consonance with the Catholic faith that was achieved in the other two sections.

It is hoped that more discussion and agreement in this area will emerge in the ongoing theological studies.

Immediately upon the issuing of the report, a second phase of discussion began in 1982, called ARCIC II.

It will continue to work on the first topics of study and initiate dialogue on other subjects of vital and mutual concern to the Catholic and Anglican Churches.

If the reunion of these Christian churches comes about at some future date, it will certainly be well studied and prepared.

Let us pray for this day and other days, not yet prepared, when the reunion of even more Christian churches will take place.

Father MacNeil is weekend assistant at CFB Ottawa chapels and chaplain at St. Joseph’s High School

Posted: Sept. 19, 1987 • Permanent link:
Categories: NewsIn this article: Anglican, Catholic, Christian unity, dialogue, ecumenism
Transmis : 19 sept. 1987 • Lien permanente :
Catégorie : NewsDans cet article : Anglican, Catholic, Christian unity, dialogue, ecumenism

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