ARCIC’s method

 — May 28, 200528 mai 2005

As I have been reading various news reports, blogs, and editorials commenting upon the the new Anglican – Roman Catholic dialogue report on “Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ” I have been a little annoyed to hear critics repeat the same line again and again: that the “old ecumenism” is wishy washy. This is frequently contrasted with a proposed new ecumenism that would be committed to truth. What? Is the “old ecumenism” not committed to truth? The bulk of my annoyance stems from the fact that these critiques are not only rejecting the conclusions of the dialogues (a legitimate response), but also that they present the theologians and churches involved as insincere or unfaithful. Most of time these critiques stem from a general rejection of the ecumenical endeavour, not from any understanding of the content of the dialogues.

I recognize that there is a difficulty in understanding the various methods employed by various ecumenical dialogues. Here is a simple and clear description by the Rev. Canon Nicholas Sagovsky, an Anglican member of ARCIC II. This was part of the presentation on May 19 at Westminster Cathedral, London.

The ‘ARCIC method’, which is by now well tried and tested, is to go behind entrenched positions or statements of doctrines which have proved divisive and to see, as much as we can, what as Anglican and Roman Catholic Christians, we hold in common. Often ARCIC has used new language or perspectives, or revisited old language and perspectives, to bring out what we have in common and what we can say together. This is what we have done when faced with the questions over Mary which have proved divisive between our two communions. In the work of ARCIC as a whole the theme of communion has held much of our work together. In our work on Mary it was often the insights of the East (Mary as ‘all-holy’; the ‘dormition’ of Mary) which helped us approach the problems that have divided the West. However, the truly fresh perspective we have brought to our work is that of Pauline theology: we have reflected on the place of Mary in our shared Christian faith in the light of the the Scriptural themes of grace and hope in Christ. (from ACNS 3983)

All ecumenical dialogues present their agreed statements to the churches for study, reflection, and hopefully reception. Reception is a complicated process. It is more than presenting it to the next Lambeth Conference or the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It is about the evaluation of the agreement in and through the life of the churches. It is not only about determining whether the statement is faithful to earlier statements but also about whether it is faithful to Scripture and the Tradition lived in the life of the churches today. Reception requires a sincere response, reflection, and evaluation on the part of the whole church.

For those who have not yet seen the ARCIC document, I have permission to post it online at « » on June 1st. It will also be available in French on the same day at «  ».

Posted: May 28, 2005 • Permanent link:
Categories: DialogueIn this article: Anglican, ARCIC, Catholic, Mary
Transmis : 28 mai 2005 • Lien permanente :
Catégorie : DialogueDans cet article : Anglican, ARCIC, Catholic, Mary

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