Saturday, November 28, 2009


This announcement came from the Vatican’s web-site this morning (11-28-09):

Following the 21 November meeting in the Vatican between Benedict XVI and Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, in the course of which they reiterated their desire to strengthen ecumenical relations between Anglicans and Catholics, on 23 November the meeting took place of the committee entrusted with preparing the third phase of the "Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission" (ARCIC). It was decided that this new phase will begin during next year.
The third phase will focus on fundamental questions concerning the Church - local Church and universal Church - understood as communion, and on the way in which the local and universal Church can, in communion, discern just moral teaching.
Over coming months the members of the commission will be appointed, and the date of its first meeting will be announced.

This set of dialogues will be critical for the future of ecumenical relations between the Catholic Church and the Anglicans. By coming to an agreed understanding of the distinctions and relations between the local and the universal Church, we can perhaps better understand both the overture Pope Benedict made to Anglicans with the new Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus. We will, I hope, come to a shared perspective on the ways in which a local Church can be truly a local expression and form while still being fully united in the universal Church.

Beyond this, it is significant that part of the purpose for dialogue in this particular area of theology is to try to agree on the methods by which there can be a unified process to ‘discern just moral teaching’ (and this would indeed mean agreement, at the very least in the basic principles of moral teaching). This is critical since divergences in moral practice have been at the core of the upset felt in the Anglican Communion these last several years.

Why do we dialogue at all? Surely it is because, in the words of St. Augustine, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, and no matter what else is true, this will never be untrue so long as we all pray “Our Father.” If we seem, sometimes, to be at enmity with each other, this must cease; the best way is to look into each other’s eyes and see, not a demon, but a child for whom Christ suffered, died and rose. We are called to love each other and so bear witness to the truth of Jesus Christ. Again, as St. Augustine put it:

Blessed is the one who loves you, O Lord; and who loves his friends in you, and his enemies for your sake. For this is the person who loses none who are dear to him; to whom all are dear, in the One who can never be lost.

May we all one day soon be dear to one another, and united, in the One who can never be lost.

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