The Malines Conversation Group has issued a communiqué from its mid-April meeting.

The Malines Conversation Group was established in the early 1920s by Cardinal Désiré-Joseph Mercier, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Malines-Brussels, 24 years after Pope Leo XIII declared that Anglican orders were “absolutely null and utterly void.”

The 1920s Malines Conversations Group envisioned the restoration of communion between Anglicans and Roman Catholics in the phrase l’Église Anglicane unie non absorbée: united but not absorbed.

Since then, a number of formal dialogues and relational groups between the two churches have been established, including the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), which undertakes theological dialogue; and the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM), an episcopal commission which seeks ways to put joint agreements into practice.

This sixth meeting — which occurred April 8-12 at San Alfonso Retreat House in Long Branch, New Jersey — sharpened the group’s focus on the question of order:

  • The Rev. Gordon Lathrop (Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia) offered papers on the “Ecclesial Grammar of Scripture” and “Reality of Life at the Root of the Reality of Holy Order.”
  • The Rev. Sarah Coakley (Cambridge University) and Professor Antoine Courbain (Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth, Beirut) led an interdisciplinary session on “Perspectives on Gender and the Human Person.”
  • The Rev. Paul McPartlan (Catholic University of America) presented a close reading of ecclesial texts that addressed the question “Can it be said that the church of Christ subsistit in the Anglican Communion?”
  • The Rev. Alexander Rentel (St. Vladimir’s Theological Seminary) offered a paper on “The Concept of Oikonomia from an Orthodox Perspective.”
  • Archbishop Donald Bolen (Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada) and Cardinal Joseph Tobin (Newark) offered reflections on the current ecumenical context.

“The intense theological discussions are driven by our common commitment as Anglicans and Roman Catholics, in obedience to our Lord’s command, to walk together as the one body of Christ in our divided world,” said the Rt. Rev. David Hamid, the Church of England’s Suffragan Bishop in Europe.

The group will meet again in York next spring.

Adapted from ACNS

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