The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) met from 26 August to 4 September at the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, USA. The Commission has the task of undertaking the official theological dialogue between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church. The Commission produced agreed statements on Eucharist, Ministry and Ordination, and Authority in the Church, published in 1981 as The Final Report, which have received an authoritative response from both the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church. Since then, the Commission has produced three further agreed statements: Salvation and the Church (1986), Church as Communion (1990) and Life in Christ: Morals, Communion and the Church (1993).
The Commission is currently seeking to further the convergence concerning Authority in the Church which was expressed in The Final Report of 1981. Its work has focussed on the interrelated issues of Scripture, Tradition and the gift of authority in the Church. The members are heartened by the words of Pope John Paul II and the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Common Declaration with which they concluded their meeting in Rome in December 1996:"We encourage ARCIC to continue and deepen our theological dialogue...in all areas where full agreement has still to be reached". The Pope and the Archbishop drew attention to the seriousness of the dialogue about authority in which the Commission is engaged:"Without agreement in this area we shall not reach the full visible unity to which we are both committed."
ARCIC has noted that The Virginia Report, recently published in preparation for discussions at the 1998 Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops, bears upon issues being considered in this ARCIC dialogue, particularly with regard to questions of communion, decision-making and authority. The 1995 Papal Encyclical Ut Unum Sint is also relevant, particularly the Pope's invitation to other Churches to enter into dialogue about the office of universal primate.
ARCIC expresses its appreciation for the generous hospitality it received from the Dean and Staff of the Seminary. A reception was given at which the Commission met representatives of the Lutheran-Anglican-Roman Catholic Covenant (LARC) in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
ARCIC will next hold a plenary meeting from 25 August to 3 September at Villa Palazzola, near Rome, Italy.