From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Episcopalians: Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops meet in Malta to discuss ways to promote a 'lived ecumenism'

Date Wed, 4 Dec 2002 15:54:10 -0500

December 4, 2002


Episcopalians: Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops meet in 
Malta to discuss ways to promote a 'lived ecumenism'

by James Solheim

(ENS) Six Anglican and six Roman Catholic bishops met November 
19-23 at a retreat house in Malta to discuss further steps on 
the road to unity between the two churches. The bishops are 
members of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission 
for Unity and Mission (IARCUUM), established in 2000 in a 
historic international meeting in Canada of bishops from regions 
of the world where relations between the two churches are 
especially critical.

The Canadian meeting stemmed from a Common Declaration issued 
in 1996 by Pope John Paul II and Archbishop of Canterbury George 
L. Carey that committed the churches to a search for "full 
visible unity." A similar declaration from 30 years ago, 
stemming from the Second Vatican Council, established the 
Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) to 
discuss doctrinal differences. The commission has issued a 
number of statements on ministry, the Eucharist, and "The Gift 
of Authority."

Among the major goals of the IARCUUM is to shape a 
declaration of common beliefs that could be endorsed by both 
churches and also to encourage the review process and eventual 
endorsement of the agreed texts from ARCIC. On a practical 
level, the commission will continue its search for ways the two 
churches can work together in mission.

A sub-group of the commission has worked to prepare a first 
draft to formally express the degree of agreement that exists. 
Another is preparing practical recommendations for the next 
steps in the on-going process of "reception" of common 
statements and a third is focusing on visible and practical 
strategies to help the two communions, especially in local 
contexts, to do together even now whatever is possible in the 
present stage of real but imperfect communion.

After 40 years of dialogue "we are in partial, not full 
communion," said the Rev. Donald Bolen of the Vatican's 
Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in an interview 
with the Sunday Times of London. "The way ahead is not 
clear. Our responsibility is to foster a lived ecumenism, faith 
to shape our lives as churches."

Bolen added, "We can find forms of expressing our progress 
towards unity so farThese involve doing everything in common 
which deep differences do not oblige us to do separately."

Roman Catholic co-chair of the commission, Archbishop John 
Bathersby of Australia, told the Sunday Times that "my person 
vision of achieving Anglican-Roman Catholic unity is to combine 
hard, slogging work and trust in the Holy Spirit. As Cardinal 
Walter Kasper, the new president of the Pontifical Council for 
Christian Unity has encouraged us, we must maintain the capacity 
to be surprised by God."


(Text of the communique and a list of participants is available 
on the Anglican Communion News Service web site at

--James Solheim is director of Episcopal News Service.

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