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ARCIC III: Undampened? A lot of hot air? Or impotent?

ARCIC III: Undampened? A lot of hot air? Or impotent?

Question of the week at Church Times: Has the Ordinariate inflicted “ecumenical damage”? Follow the link to vote.

What should we make of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission Phase III?

Francis Phillips, blogging at the (UK) Catholic Herald, writes:

Surely the advent of the Personal Ordinariate will now have caused more problems for the fraternal atmosphere of poor ARCIC III? That phrase “ecumenical dialogue” was so fashionable in the 1970s and 80s; in the 1990s it began to ring hollow; and now that many serious and historically minded Anglicans have come to the only conclusion possible, made easier by the Holy Father’s initiative, to come over to Rome, what is there left to talk about, apart from pleasantries and the duty of charity?

I hesitate to say it, but ARCIC III sounds like a lot of hot air.

With the exception of the claim that many Anglicans have joined the Ordinariate, that argument rings true.

However, reports Church Times,

The Ordinariate had not inflicted “ecumenical damage” or “in any way dampened” the third phase of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Interna­tional Commission (ARCIC III), the Commission’s Anglican co-chairman said on Thursday of last week, the last day of its meeting in Italy.

The Archbishop of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, the Most Revd David Moxon, said: “It is a pastoral response from the Holy See to people who made an application to the Vatican. It is a relatively small number of people compared with the hundreds of thousands, or millions, that we represent at ARCIC III.”

The only trouble is the Archbishop of Canterbury was not given advance notice of the Pope’s plan to create the Ordinariate. That hardly seems appropriate for two parties exploring the possibilities of an ecumenical relationship.

Much better, I think, the model described by Bosco Peters:

Visualise denominational “boundaries” as vertical lines – I would like to suggest that unity and disunity is often more at right angles, the horizontal bands of contemplative, justice-focused, liturgical, charismatic, evangelical, etc. These horizontal bands cross denominations and also bleed into each other. Denominational divisions meant something in the modern world, but far less so in our post-modern reality, where people are far less ready to accept something on an “authority’s say so”, and pick and choose their perspective from the spiritual deli. Plot the increase of cross-denominational marriages…

My own hope lies not in the impotent debates between the vertical lines, but in the nourishment received in the horizontal bands, in the increasing openness between the bands, in the learning from each other. My hope is in the theology of John Zizioulas, Dennis Doyle, de Lubac, and others who draw on the earliest insights that see the fullness of the church present in the local church (Communion Ecclesiology underpinned by Eucharistic Ecclesiology), including in a monastic community; that sees the catholic (universal) church not as the international body, but as modelled in a hologram, where the image is fully there however small you cut it; where Peter is the leader of the church in the sense that every bishop is the successor of Peter…


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I must agree with Lionel. The ARCIC meetings are a waste of time. With the RCC, it’s still “my way or the highway”, and that won’t change in the foreseeable future. There’s no appeasement that Rowan can offer that will be enough for Rome.

June Butler

Lionel Deimel

I think the Anglican Communion qua Anglican Communion engaging in ecumenical talks is pointless and a waste of resources. Is it not clear that the range of theological opinion in the Communion is such that any agreement with Rome (or any other church) will be acceptable to some Anglican churches but not to others? The ABC would like to change this reality by imposing uniformity through the Anglican Covenant. It would be better, however, to drop the Covenant and such useless (and potentially disruptive) activities as ARCIC III.

Chris Epting

I like Bosco Peters’ image very much.

Chris Epting

I like Bosco Peter’s image very much.


With the exception of the claim that many Anglicans have joined the Ordinariate

Nor are they “serious and historically minded”, nor did they make “the only conclusion possible.”

I’d rate Phillips’ statement as about 75% FAIL.

JC Fisher

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