From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Episcopalians: Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops meet in Malta to discuss ways to promote a 'lived ecumenism'
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
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
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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