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Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Official International Anglican-RC Dialogue Resumes

Archbishops David Moxon and Bernard Longley, ARCIC Co-chairmen
With all the news around Anglicanorum Coetibus, the provision of ordinariates for Anglicans to become Roman Catholics while maintaining some aspects of Anglican patrimony, it is easy to overlook the fact that the official Anglican-Roman Catholic ecumenical dialogue continues with full vigour. When Pope Benedict XVI and Archbishop Rowan Williams met in November 2009, they gave a mandate for the third phase of the official ARCIC (Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission) dialogue to commence. Yesterday, 17 May, at the monastery in Bose, northern Italy, the Commission began its meetings.

The theologians on ARCIC are officially appointed by the Pope and the Archbishop to continue to work towards the goal first declared by Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey, that the dialogue might lead to "that unity in truth for which Christ prayed" which would be manifest in a "a restoration of complete communion of faith and sacramental life". (Note that the goal is expressed in terms or restoration of communion, not the absorption of one Church into another).

There are, of course, new challenges to the official dialogue which have arisen since the 1966 declaration of Pope and Archbishop. Nevertheless, Archbishop Bernard Longley the RC Co-chairman of ARCIC, repeated in a recent interview that "the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion are committed to working and praying for the full, visible unity of the Church and we see ARCIC as contributing to that end."

The dialogue is currently examining  the nature of the Church as understood by Anglicans and Roman Catholics including the way that the Church arrives at authoritative teaching, especially about moral issues.

There are four women on the Commission. Two are Roman Catholic and two are Anglican, including one woman bishop, Linda Nicholls, area bishop of Trent-Durham in Toronto, Canada. The Anglican Co-chairman is Archbishop David Moxon of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.

The Revd Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan, the Director of Ecumenical Affairs of the Anglican Communion (my successor in that position, once removed), is the Anglican Co-secretary of ARCIC. Canon Barnett Cowan will be at our Diocesan Synod immediately following the Commission meeting, to give a presentation on the Anglican Covenant and should have up-to-date news of the dialogue.

Bishop Linda Nicholls

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