Page 1, 7th January 1972

7th January 1972
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Page 1, 7th January 1972 — Vatican 'cold' over Eucharist document
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Locations: London, Rome, Canterbury

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Vatican 'cold' over Eucharist document

FROM A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT THE "substantial" agreement on the doctrine of the Eucharist reached by the international commission of Anglican and Catholic theologians, and announced in a document published last week, wai received coldly by the Vatican.

The Vatican Press Office descrihed it as "strictly a study document" which "commits for the time being only the members of the commission."

Bishop Clark, Auxiliary of Northampton, co-chairman of the commission, had said at a news conference in London at which the document was made public that the agreement might pave the way to Common Communion. The Vatican Press Office statement said the agreement "was nut yet complete" and there were "still essential points to be clarified. The central question of ministry of the Eucharist has not been touched on, since it will be the object of a special session of the mixed commission which is to take place in September 1972."

A Vatican spokesman indirectly criticised the Anglican Church's information office for releasing the report first to the general press instead of to purely theological journals.

Informed Vatican sources said it had been agreed that the document would be published last Saturday in two theological reviews. the Anglican Theology and the ecumenical publication One in Christ.

The Vatican statement noted that the document mentioned "important and convergent" progress on the subject of the Eucharist but recalled that among important points still to clear up was the key question of the ministry of the Eucharist, without which the agreement so far could have no meaning.

Although the document merely represents the findings of two teams of theologians until it is formally ratified by the two Churches, informed circles in Rome were surprised at the Vatican's cool reception.

They recalled that although the commission now had powers of decision it was nevertheless an official body set up by the two Churches and the document was the first joint statement on doctrine since the Reformation.

The joint Anglican-Catholic commission—set up by Pope Paul and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Michael Ramsey—began its work on the agreement in January 1970, under the joint chairmanship of Bishop Clark and the Anglican bishop of Ossory, Ferns and Leighlin, Dr. H. R. McAdoo.

A f ter the commission's meeting in September, Bishop Butler, Auxiliary of Westminster, said that "most and possibly all of the commission's members believe that the agreement could justify some measure of inter-Communion if there were no other objections or obstacles in the way. But such obstacles exist, and are, at present, serious."

Bishop Clark and Bishop McAdoo said in a joint statement this week: "Both chairmen were following normal instructions from their respective authorities in publishing the agreed statement in journals and in the press.

"Points which seem to have provoked a reaction from some circles in the Vatican were fully covered by both Anglican and Roman Catholic spokesmen in this country and in Ireland. Publicising of the statement in journals and in the press was agreed between Lambeth and the Vatican Secretariat for promoting Christian Unity well in advance of December 31.

"It appears that misunderstanding was caused by confusion in some Roman circles between the embargoed press conference on December 17 and the officially agreed release date for the document itself on December 31."




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