Unity bid grasps the nettle of the Reformation
THE DOCTRINE that divided Europe at the Reformation — justification — is one of the first objectives for discussion by the new Anglican/Roman Catholic International Commission whose members were revealed this week.
The new commission to foster church unity, known as Arcic II, was selected at the highest levels in the Catholic and Anglican churches. The twelve Catholic members under the chairmanship of Bishop Cormac Murphy-O'Connor of Arundel and Brighton were chosen by the Vatican's Secretariat for Christian Unity after consultation with church leaders.
The same number of Anglican members, under the chairmanship of Dr Mark Santer, Bishop of Kensington, were picked by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the other primates of the Anglican communion through the medium, of the Anglican Consultative Council.
Arcic II has been set up after Pope John Paul and Dr Robert Runcie met at Canterbury and made a joint commitment to continued efforts for unity. But it will have to start working before either church has formally accepted or rejected the conclusions of its predecessor, Arcic I.
Arcic I issued agreed statements on the Eucharist, Authority and Ministry. Its final report was heavily criticised by
the Vatican's Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Cardinal Ratzinger.
On the Anglican side, as Dr Santer admitted this week, the problem is that there is no central authority to pass judgment on Arcic I. In any case, whatever the Church of England Synod says in the meantime, representatives from the worldwide Anglican communion will only have a chance to comment authoritatively on Arcic I at the Lambeth Conference in 1988.
The two chairmen of Arcic II met for the first time at Bishop Murphy-O'Connor's home at Storrington on Thursday last week. The full membership is to meet in Venice for a week from August 30.
For the first time Arcic includes women, and it draws its members from the Third World as well as Europe and Europeanised countries. There is also more representation of the Evangelical wing of the Anglican church than in Arcic I.
The chairmen were not willing this week to commit themselves to the way Arcic II would chose to operate or what its first task would be. But the doctrine of justification and the whole subject of ecclesiology presented themselves as the most obvious outstanding matters of difference between the churches which Arcic I had not touched on.
Justification concerns the means by which men may reach salvation. The first Protestants insisted that mankind was saved by faith alone. Catholics have always insisted also on the merits of good works. After the Reformation theological discussion within the Catholic Church turned to the problem of how the grace won by Christ works in men. It is not easy to see how the controversies of the last 500 years between and within the two churches can satisfactorily be resolved in a short time by Arcic 11.
Dr Santcr said that he was ready to approach the discussion of justification with confidence, because all were agreed that it was the will of God for Christians to be reunited. Bishop Murphy-O'Connor said there was no stopping the movement of the churches towards visible corporate unity.
The other topic, ecclesiology, had two main implications according to Dr Santer. One is the way the churches tackle moral teaching. The other is the question of what hinders mutual recognition on ministries. A stumbling block for recognition of ministries has been the ordination of women, Dr Santer said.
Tomorrow Dr Saltier and Bishop David Konstant are to join in a pilgrimage to Walsingham.
Members of Arcic II (with members of Arcic I marked with an asterisk):
Anglican Dr Mark Santer, Bishop of Kensington, (Co-Chairman) England.
Canon J. A. Baycrofl. Archdeacon of Ottawa, Canada.
Dr Donald Cameron, assistant Bishop of Sydney, Australia, Professor Henry Chadwick°. Emeritus, Professor of Divinity, University of Cambridge, England.
The Rev Julian Charley', Rector, St Peter's Everton. and Warden of Shrewsbury House, I.iverpool, England. The Rev Kortright Davis, Vice-Principal, Codrington College, Barbados.
Dr David Citari, Bishop of Mount Kenya East.
Professor Oliver O'Donovan, Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology, University of Oxford, England (from late 1984).
Professor John Pohe, Professor of Religious Studies, University of Ghana. Mrs Mary Tanner. Study Secretary, Board for Mission and Unity of the General Synod of the Church of England.
Dr Arthur Vogel°. Bishop of West Missouri, USA.
Professor Robert Wright, Professor of Church History, General Theological Seminary. New York, USA.
Secretary Canon Christopher Hill. Archbishop of Canterbury's Assistant for Ecumenical Affairs, England.
Roman Catholic Bishop Cormac Murphy-O'Connor of Arundel and Brighton, England. (CoChairman).
Fr A. Adappur, SJ, Lumen Institute. Cochin. India.
Fr J. Akpunomou, Rector of the Major Seminary, Enugu, Nigeria.
Bishop Brian Ashby. Bishop of Christchurch. New Zealand.
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