DAILY CATHOLIC     THUR-FRI-SAT-SUN     May 13-16, 1999     vol. 10, no. 94

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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          VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- A joint Catholic-Anglican commission has published a new 40-page statement on authority in the Church, suggesting a possible common understanding of episcopal collegiality and the primacy of the Pope.

          Officially unveiled on May 12 at Westminster Abbey in London, the new statement by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) is billed as "the result of five years of dialogue, patient listening, study, and prayer."

          ARCIC was formed in 1970, after the meeting in Rome between the Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, and Pope Paul VI. The group took up the question of papal authority in response to the challenge issued by Pope John Paul II, in his 1995 encyclical Ut Unum Sint, for new efforts to define the essential elements of the Petrine office.

          The joint chairmen of ARCIC-- the Catholic Bishop Cormac Murphy-O'Connor of Arundel and Anglican Bishop Mark Santer of Birmingham-- submitted the report to the hierarchies of their respective churches, voicing the hope that its conclusions would be accepted and put into practice. In that way, they said, "the subject of the nature of authority and the manner in which it is exercised…. will cease to be a cause of permanent rupture in communion between our two churches."

          The document states that both Catholics and Anglicans recognize the need for "the universal primacy exercised by the Bishop of Rome," while also noting that this power must be exercised "in collegial association with the other bishops." The ARCIC statement also emphasizes the importance which both Catholics and Anglicans place on adherence to an apostolic tradition. That tradition has "a radically missionary element," the statement continues, and in bringing the message of the Gospel to all nations the Church must embrace "legitimate diversity" among the local churches. It is in maintaining fidelity to the Gospel, and in discerning the truths communicated by the Holy Spirit, ARCIC says, that the Pope exercises his "specific ministry of universal primacy." In this context, the document says, the Pope's role should be seen as "a gift to be received by all the churches."

          The ARCIC document recommends that the Anglican Church should develop more visible "structures of authority" to ensure unity among the local churches. Within the Catholic Church, the statement argues, there is a need for greater collegial cooperation among the bishops. The ARCIC document does not directly address the key questions that separate Anglicans from Rome, such as the Anglican decision to ordain women to the priesthood.

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

May 13-16, 1999       volume 10, no. 94


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