ARCIC III will present all the documents of ARCIC II, together with elucidations based upon responses already received, for reception by the relevant authorities of both communions, and for study at all levels of the churches’ life.
ARCIC III has decided that it will address the two principal topics together in a single document. It has drawn up a plan for its work that views the Church above all in the light of its rootedness in Christ through the Paschal Mystery. This focus on Jesus Christ, human and divine, gives the Commission a creative way to view the relationship between the local and universal in communion. The Commission will seek to develop a theological understanding of the human person, human society, and the new life of grace in Christ. This will provide a basis from which to explore how right ethical teaching is determined at universal and local levels. ARCIC will base this study firmly in scripture, tradition and reason, and draw on the previous work of the Commission. It will analyze some particular questions to elucidate how our two Communions approach moral decision making, and how areas of tension for Anglicans and Roman Catholics might be resolved by learning from the other. ARCIC III does this conscious of the fact that what unites us is greater than what divides us.
The work of the Commission members has been enriched by sharing in the liturgical and spiritual life of the sisters and brothers of the Monastery of Bose, whose ecumenical mission and constant prayer have provided a supportive context for ARCIC. They were encouraged by visits from the bishop of the local diocese and by the bishop responsible for ecumenism for the northern Italian dioceses. The Commission will now organize papers and continue its work along the lines it has proposed, in preparation for its next meeting in 2012.” – Extract from ACNS Report on ARCIC III Meeting at Bose Monastery –
“The Commission will seek to develop a theological understanding of the human person, human society, and the new life of grace in Christ.”
This would seem to be a very good place to start with the newly revived commissioning of ARCIC III – the Anglican/Roman Catholic think-tank on ecumenical convergence between our two denominational institutions. From this perspective, one might hope for a more modern outlook on the problems of gender and sexuality in this particular gathering of minds within our two mainline faith communities – matters which actually relate to the humanity of Jesus Christ, rather than the static dogmatic formulation of past generations.
With Archbishop David Moxon‘s commitment to a new hermeneutical approach to the exegetical problems of Scripture – which should open up the dialogue on human sexuality and gender issues common to both leadership and rank-and-file membership of the Church – there may, hopefully, be progress on a common view of the acceptability of both Women and LGBT persons as being called by God into ministry and witness to the Gospel in the modern world. It would appear that the ARCIC set-up, acceptable to both denominational hierarchies, is the only place where such matters can be addressed with any hope of the sort of resolutions that could bring a degree of convergent theological understanding.
The fact that the Commission speaks of the Incarnational significance of the humanity of Christ – as crucial to the ongoing dialogue between our two Churches – is perhaps more significant than any intentional attempt to homogenise the institutional views on apostolic ministerial validity and the hierarchical structures of the Church Universal.
What our two Churches have in common, at the basic level, is the sacramental traditions that have survived from apostolic times, which guarantee the Gospel witness to Christ’s institution of a common Baptismal and Eucharistic theology – exemplified in a remarkable way by the hospitality of the ecumenical Monastic Community at Bose. I am thankful for the participation of Bishop David Moxon, of ACANZP, in these proceedings. His particular educational qualifications, from the University of Oxford and in New Zealand; and his personal engagement with the Tangata Whenua (Maori) people in New Zealand; combined with a deeply eucharistic theology; have given him a breadth of cultural and spiritual understanding that can only assist in his membership (and joint chairmanship) of ARCIC.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch