Communiqué from the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission
The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, the official body appointed by the two communions to engage in theological dialogue, has held the third meeting of its new phase (ARCIC III) at the Mosteiro de Säo Bento, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (29 April-7 May). This is the first time in its forty-year history that ARCIC has met in Latin America and, indeed, in the southern hemisphere.
Members of the Commission are grateful to Dom Filipe da Silva, OSB, the Abbot, and to his community for their gracious hospitality. The Commission participated in daily vespers and in the Sunday Eucharist at the monastery church, and were held in prayer throughout by the monastic community.
A wide range of papers was prepared for the meeting and discussed, taking the Commission further towards its goal of producing an agreed statement. The mandate for this third phase of ARCIC is to explore the Church as Communion, local and universal, and how in communion the local and universal Church come to discern right ethical teaching. In exploring this mandate, the members of the Commission engaged in theological analysis and shared reflection on the nature of the Church and those structures which contribute to discernment and decision-making. Time was spent considering some case studies of ethical issues which members had prepared, and analysing the ways in which the two communions have come to their present teaching on these matters.
Over the forty years of its work, ARCIC has produced a number of Agreed Statements. The work of ARCIC I received official responses from the two communions. The Commission continued its task of preparing the documents of ARCIC II for presentation to the respective communions to assist with their reception. Members reviewed responses already given to each of the five Agreed Statements and will prepare introductions for them that place each of these documents within the current ecumenical situation.
The Commission welcomed at a meal leaders of the local Anglican and Roman Catholic churches, including Anglican Bishop Filadelfo Oliveira and Roman Catholic Bishop Francisco Biasin, and members of the local Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue of Brazil. ARCIC is keen to deepen its relationship with such local and regional ARCs and rejoices that both communions are exploring concrete ways of sharing documents and discussion about ARCIC’s work.
Members of the Commission visited the City of God (Cidade de Deus), one of the many favelas (neighbourhoods housing large numbers of the poor and displaced) that surround Rio de Janeiro. They were warmly welcomed by the Roman Catholic parish and their priest, Fr. Marcio José de Assis Macedo, MSC. Fr. Nicholas Wheeler, the Anglican parish priest of the City of God, arranged for the Commission to visit three projects in the community (a day centre for seniors, a community development centre, and a mural project that portrays the community’s history and provides a vision of the City of God from Revelation), and to learn from the local police how officers engage positively with the community. The evening concluded with ecumenical vespers. In offering thanks, one of the bishops said he was trying to think of a phrase to sum up our visit, and could only think of “City of Hope.” Hope sprang from real ecumenical activity (unashamedly from a Christian base but working to support any community good), and the sheer hard work and organising by local people.
The Commission will prepare further papers, expand the case studies, and continue its work in preparation for its next meeting, 12–20 May 2014.
Members of ARCIC III present at the meeting:
The Most Rev. Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham, England
The Rt. Rev. Christopher Hill, Bishop of Guildford, Church of England, Acting Co-Chair
The Rev. Robert Christian, OP, Angelicum University, Rome
The Rev. Adelbert Denaux, Professor Emeritus, KU Leuven, Tilburg School of Catholic Theology, Utrecht, the Netherlands
The Most Rev. Arthur Kennedy, auxiliary bishop, Archdiocese of Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Professor Paul D. Murray, Durham University, England
Sister Teresa Okure, SHCJ, Catholic Institute of West Africa, Port Harcourt, Nigeria
Professor Janet E. Smith, Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit, Michigan, United States
The Rev. Professor Vimal Tirimanna, CSsR, Accademia Alfonsiana, Rome
The Very Rev. Dom Henry Wansbrough, OSB, Ampleforth Abbey, England
Canon Dr. Paula Gooder, Birmingham, England, Church of England
The Rt. Rev. Nkosinathi Ndwandwe, Bishop Suffragan of Natal, Southern Area, Anglican Church of Southern Africa
The Rt. Rev. Linda Nicholls, Area Bishop for Trent-Durham, Diocese of Toronto, Anglican Church of Canada
The Rev. Canon Michael Nai-Chiu Poon, Trinity Theological College, Singapore, Church of the Province of South East Asia
The Rev. Canon Peter Sedgwick, St Michael’s College, Llandaff, Church in Wales
The Rev. Dr Charles Sherlock, Anglican Diocese of Bendigo, Anglican Church of Australia
The Rev. Canon Jonathan Goodall, Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative
The Rev. Odair Pedroso Mateus, Faith and Order Secretariat, World Council of Churches
The work of the Commission is supported by the Co-Secretaries, Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan (Anglican Communion Office), Monsignor Mark Langham (Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity), and Mr. Neil Vigers (Administrator, Anglican Communion Office).
Image: Residents of the City of God stand with members of ARCIC III. ACNS photo