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U. S. Anglican-Catholic Dialogue on Track to Study Exercise of Authority Within Church

June 13, 1997

WASHINGTON (June 13, 1997) -- Bishop Frank Griswold, Episcopal Bishop of Chicago, and Bishop John Snyder, Catholic Bishop of St. Augustine (FL), serving as Co-Chairmen of the Anglican/Roman Catholic Consultation in the United States (ARC-USA), have issued a statement giving the expected general direction of the next few years of dialogue.

The bishops point out that "a whole range of ecclesiological topics is open before ARC-USA touching upon how authority is exercised relative to teaching, governance, discipline, decision- making, conciliarity, reception, and fostering of unity and recognition of apostolicity." This is "the heart of the matter that keeps us from full communion," which they say is the feeling of the members of the Anglican/Roman Catholic theological dialogue.

This round of discussion begins after the Anglican/Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) convenes this summer at Virginia Seminary in Alexandria. Both Churches are encouraged by ARCIC's agreements on Eucharist and ministry. The International Commission is seeking consensus on certain clarifications concerning primacy in service to the unity and mission of the Church. Bishops Griswold and Snyder "look forward especially to that agreement's articulation of common principles regarding the exercise of authority within the Church."

The new round for the U.S. dialogue also occurs when several proposals requiring mutual action are currently before several churches. This summer the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will deliberate on "Concordat of Agreement" on full communion. The Roman Catholic Church and the Churches constituting the Lutheran World Federation are now considering a "Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification." Bishops Griswold and Snyder observe that "the committed and creative efforts of churches involved in these decisive mutual actions contribute to the whole ecumenical movement; furthermore, we are convinced that international and national Anglican/Roman Catholic dialogues will continue to serve an important role in advancing the cause of unity."

Meetings of ARC-USA are now scheduled for January and June 1998. At the next meeting the members will study the relationship between local church and universal church, specific questions of authority relating to the view of the church as a communion of local churches, and how questions of authority specifically determine policies of sacramental sharing, especially in light of specific ecumenical achievements.

Now in its 32nd year, ARC-USA, jointly sponsored by the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations of the Episcopal Church--USA, continues its work for reconciliation and full communion between the Episcopal Church and the Roman Catholic Church. Two volumes of documents have issued from this dialogue, Called to Full Unity, published in 1985, and Common Witness to the Gospel, soon to be published.

For further information, contact:
The Rev. Canon David Perry, the Episcopal Church Center, 212-922-5135
Dr. John Borelli, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, 202-541-3020
Rev. Dr. Ellen K. Wondra, Bexley Hall/Rochester Center for Theological Studies,    716-235-8619
Professor Jon Nilson, Loyola University of Chicago, 773-508-2374

Full text of the statement.

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