The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission is the official body appointed by the two Communions to engage in theological dialogue in order that they may come into full communion. It held the fourth meeting of its current phase (ARCIC III), at the Vuleka Centre, Botha’s Hill, Durban (12–20 May 2014). This is the first time in its more than forty year history that ARCIC has met in Africa.
A wide range of papers was prepared for the meeting and discussed, taking the Commission further towards its goal of producing an agreed statement. The mandate for this third phase of ARCIC is to explore: the Church as Communion, local and universal, and how in communion the local and universal Church come to discern right ethical teaching.
At this meeting, ARCIC III discussed its method and agreed that it would build on that of ARCIC I and II, integrated with the method of receptive ecumenism. In the light of this work, the Schema prepared at the first meeting of ARCIC III in 2011 was revised. Discussions concentrated on the first part of the mandate, the Church as Communion, local and universal. Members reviewed texts from ARCIC II, national Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogues (ARCs), and other ecumenical material on the subject. ARCIC III decided to examine the regional level of the Church in addition to the local and universal. It considered, through papers presented, the impact of culture on the thinking of Christians and the role of the baptized in ecclesial decision-making. The ecclesiological work will be advanced by a drafting team which will bring a preliminary text back to the next meeting.
ARCIC III was also mandated to prepare a book presenting the five Agreed Statements of ARCIC II so that they can be received by the respective Communions. The Statements will be accompanied by articles on the method of ARCIC II, its use of Scripture, and major theological themes which emerged in its work, together with introductory material and commentaries. It is planned that the book will be ready for publication following the next meeting.
Members of the Commission are grateful to The Rt Revd Rubin Phillip, Anglican Bishop of Natal, for the generous welcome extended to them by him and his Diocese. Particular thanks are due to Mrs Mary Robinson of the Vuleka Trust, and her colleagues at the Centre, whose mission is to equip young people for leadership in South Africa.
Bishop Rubin visited the Commission at Vuleka and participated in a discussion of local ecumenism. He and his wife Rose welcomed ARCIC members to their home to meet leaders of the local Anglican, Roman Catholic and Methodist Churches. On the Sunday the bishop presided, together with Archbishop Moxon and Bishop Nicholls, at the Eucharist at the 160 year old St Augustine’s, Umlazi, where ARCIC joined in the vibrant worship of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.
Members of the Commission visited the Hillcrest Aids Centre, and a project in Nazareth, Pinetown, run by the Diakonia Council of Churches, which works for social justice and community development with the poorest people.
The next meeting will take place near Rome at the end of April 2015, when the Commission will intensify its focus on the second part of its mandate by studying ethical discernment in the Scriptures and by further developing its case study on slavery.
As the Commission welcomed the Revd Antony Currer as the new co-secretary, replacing Msgr Mark Langham, it was also conscious that this was the last ARCIC of Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan. Alyson has served the Commission with great efficiency and grace, and members gave thanks for her five years of service.
APPENDIX: MEMBERS OF ARCIC III present at the meeting
The Most Revd Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham, England
The Most Revd Sir David Moxon, Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the Holy See
The Revd Robert Christian OP, Angelicum University, Rome
The Revd Adelbert Denaux, Professor Emeritus, Brugge, Belgium
Professor Paul D. Murray, Durham University, England
Professor Sister Teresa Okure SHCJ,Catholic Institute of West Africa, Port Harcourt, Nigeria
Professor Janet E. Smith, Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit, Michigan, USA
The Revd Professor Vimal Tirimanna CSsR, Alphonsianum University, Rome
The Very Revd Dom Henry Wansbrough OSB, Ampleforth Abbey, England
The Rt Revd Christopher Hill, The Church of England
Canon Dr Paula Gooder, The Church of England
The Rt Revd Nkosinathi Ndwandwe, Anglican Church of Southern Africa
The Rt Revd Linda Nicholls, The Anglican Church of Canada
The Revd Canon Peter Sedgwick, The Church in Wales
The Revd Canon Nicholas Sagovsky, The Church of England
The Revd Dr Charles Sherlock, The Anglican Church of Australia
The Revd Odair Pedroso Mateus, Faith and Order Secretariat, World Council of Churches
The work of the Commission is supported by the Co-Secretaries, Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan (Anglican Communion Office), The Revd Antony Currer (Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity) and Mr Neil Vigers (Administrator, Anglican Communion Office).