By Richard J. Mammana
The 87th session of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Theological Consultation in the United States (ARCUSA) met at the Ecumenical Institute of St. Mary’s Seminary, Baltimore, October 5-7. It was the first in-person meeting since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
ARCUSA is in the final stages of drafting an agreed statement on reconciliation in biblical, liturgical, ecclesiastical, sacramental, social, and theological contexts for the 2024 General Convention and the approval of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The dialogue group is also preparing a response to the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) 2017 document Walking Together on the Way: Learning to be the Church — Local, Regional, Universal, the first international Anglican-Roman Catholic statement since 2004.
Episcopalians present were the Rt. Rev. Dr. John Bauerschmidt (co-chair, Bishop of Tennessee), the Rev. Dr. Michael Cover, the Rev. Dr. Dan Joslyn-Siemiatkoski, Dr. John Kiess, the Rev. Dr. Denise Yarbrough, Richard Mammana (staff), and the Rev. Margaret Rose (staff).
Roman Catholics present were the Most Rev. John Michael Botean (Romanian Catholic Eparchy of St. George in Canton, co-chair), Dr. Kimberly Belcher, the Rev. Dr. William O’Neill, SJ, the Rev. Dr. Thomas Rausch, SJ, Dr. Barbara Sain, and the Rev. Dr. Ronald Roberson, CSP (staff).
The two groups also met separately in caucus once to discuss internal matters related to the dialogue. The dialogue members gave thanks for the recent appointment of Dr. Christopher Wells as director of unity, faith, and order for the Anglican Communion. Wells, publisher of The Living Church, was a theological consultant to ARCUSA for its past four triennia.
The Ecumenical Institute, founded in 1968 as an initiative after the Second Vatican Council, was the setting for shared worship three times a day, including a Mass of the Holy Spirit with the St. Mary’s Seminary community. The full group attended the Angelus for the Feast of St. Bruno. The president-rector of the Institute, the Rev. Dr. Phillip Brown, welcomed ARCUSA, as did the dean and director, the Rev. Dr. Brent Laytham, who is a United Methodist.
The Episcopal Church and Roman Catholic Church have been in dialogue for more than 50 years through ARCUSA, and on the international level through ARCIC. In 2006 Archbishop Rowan Williams and Pope Benedict XVI renewed a historic commitment to the goal of “full visible communion in the truth of Christ.” ARCUSA’s work maintains open communication between the two churches with this objective.
The consultation has previously produced documents on Ecclesiology and Moral Discernment (2014), a response to Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ (2007), and A Pastoral Guide for Understanding Our Two Churches (2007).
The Episcopal Church maintains official bilateral dialogues with the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops sponsors bilaterals with Baptists, the Christian Reformed Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the National Association of Evangelicals, Orthodox Christians, the Polish National Catholic Church, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Reformed Church in America, the United Church of Christ, and the United Methodist Church. It also hosts a Catholic-Pentecostal exploratory dialogue, and met in conversation in Chicago with the Anglican Church in North America on October 20.
ARCUSA’s next meeting will be hosted by the Episcopal Church’s Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations in early 2023, at a location to be determined.