The Anglican Communion Office notes with respect the publication this Maundy Thursday of the Papal Encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia. His Holiness the Pope has chosen an appropriate moment to draw the attention of all Christians to the central place of the Eucharist in the life of the Christian faithful, and eloquently expressed afresh the Roman Catholic understanding of this Sacrament. He speaks of his personal experience of the celebration of this Sacrament as a way of introducing a theological exploration of its importance in the life of the Church, and of the boundaries of its proper celebration, which include a restatement of the existing limitations on Eucharistic sharing as defined by the Canon Law of the Roman Catholic Church.
Whilst it is not possible at this moment to offer an immediate comprehensive response to this document, we very much hope that this encyclical will be adopted for study by the instruments of dialogue set up mutually by the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church - namely, the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), and the International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM). From this study, we will hope to understand more fully the way in which the ecumenical commitment expressed in this encyclical, and by both our churches, may be carried forward to the point where a fuller eucharistic sharing may be initiated between Roman Catholics and Anglicans.
The Revd Gregory Cameron
Director of Ecumenical Affairs, Anglican Communion Office