[ACNS, by Lucy Cowpland] The Anglican Consultative Council has adopted new procedures for the official recognition of agreed statements from mandated ecumenical dialogues. The decision was taken this week by members at the seventeenth meeting of the Council (ACC-17) in Hong Kong. Previously, the Anglican Communion received such texts through the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops, but Canon Dr John Gibaut, the Anglican Communion’s Director of Unity, Faith and Order, said that the previous system had not functioned for more than two decades.
The new system was recommended by the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO). Dr Gibaut explained that previously, texts would first go out to the provinces of the Anglican Communion who were responsible for making a judgement on the text before feeding back to staff at the Anglican Communion Office. The Lambeth Conference would study those responses and the texts themselves, and then would discern whether each text was “consonant with the faith of the Church as Anglicans have received it”. The texts would then be recommended to member churches of the Anglican Communion.
Dr Gibaut explained that since 1998, the Lambeth Conference had evolved into a different kind of Instrument of Communion, requiring a new mechanism for receiving ecumenical texts.
The ACC has decided that the reception process will shift from the Lambeth Conference to the Consultative Council. “When any ecumenical bilateral dialogue of the Anglican Communion has completed an agreed statement, it will first be sent to IASCUFO”, Dr Gibaut said. “They will study the agreed statement and reach a common mind on whether it recognises the statement as being ‘consonant with the faith of the Church as Anglicans have received it.’”
At that stage, IASCUFO will prepare resources, advice, and draft recommendations to be taken to the next meeting of the ACC with a draft resolution for them to formally welcome the agreed statement and commend the text, together with IASCUFO’s advice, to the member Churches of the Anglican Communion for study, reflection and response. The resolution would also set a time frame for responses.
An ACC reference group will meet with IASCUFO immediately prior to each meeting of the Consultative Council. This will provide an opportunity “for further reflection on ecumenical statements in the light of the provincial responses and any other considerations”, Dr Gibaut said. “The task of this enhanced commission will be to evaluate whether an agreed text has a sufficient level of consensus in the member Churches for a recommendation to be made to the ACC.”
Two more resolutions were passed in reference to the work of the Unity, Faith and Order department. The first was to welcome and commend the publication of the Agreed Statement of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC III), Walking Together on the Way, as well as affirm the continuing work of the Commission. The second was to welcome and comment the report of the Anglican-Old Catholic International Coordinating Council, Anglicans and Old Catholics serving in Europe, as well as renew the mandate for the council.