Here’s a SERIOUS clarification that was jointly issued today:
Anglicans and Catholics Take Times to Task
Prelates Clarify Upcoming Document
LONDON, FEB. 19, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The co-chairs of an Anglican-Catholic dialogue commission said that an article in the Times newspaper, headlined “Churches Back Plan to Unite Under Pope,” sensationalizes and misrepresents the truth.
The article by Ruth Gledhill reports information supposedly leaked to the Times regarding an unpublished document entitled “Growing Together in Unity and Mission,” to be released by the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission.
Gledhill’s article, published today, claimed: “Radical proposals to reunite Anglicans with the Roman Catholic Church under the leadership of the Pope are to be published this year, The Times has learnt.”
The prelates that co-chair the commission have clarified the reporting in Gledhill’s article. They released this statement (adapted here):
“Growing Together in Unity and Mission” is being published as an agreed statement of IARCCUM (the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission), and is to be published under the commission’s authority, not as an official statement of the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. It is being put forward to foster discussion and reflection, as the statement clearly states.
The statement was recently completed by IARCCUM, and is scheduled to be published by the commission as soon as a Catholic commentary to accompany the document has been completed; an Anglican commentary has already been prepared for publication.
The text was made available to the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council and to the Anglican primates, currently meeting in Tanzania. The primates were also presented with a copy of the agreed statement of the International Commission of the Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue, entitled “The Church of the Triune God.”
Through these two texts, Anglican leaders were able to look at the recent results of important international dialogues with which the Anglican Communion is currently engaged. Both of these texts address the theology of the Church, and given that the Anglican primates are currently discussing the nature of the Church, it was felt that the dialogue documents had something to contribute to those discussions.
“Growing Together in Unity and Mission” has not yet been officially published. It is unfortunate that its contents have been prematurely reported in a way which misrepresents its intentions and sensationalizes its conclusions.
The first part of the document, which treats doctrinal matters, is an attempt to synthesize the work of ARCIC (the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission) over the past 35 years. It identifies the level of agreement which has been reached by ARCIC, but is also very clear in identifying ongoing areas of disagreement, and in raising questions which still need to be addressed in dialogue.
Those ongoing questions and areas of disagreement are highlighted in boxed sections interspersed throughout the text. It is a very honest document assessing the state of Anglican-Roman Catholic relations at the present moment.
Both the heading of the article (“Churches back plan to unite under Pope”) and its opening sentence, which speaks of “radical proposals to reunite Anglicans with the Roman Catholic Church under the leadership of the Pope,” need to be put into proper perspective.
For 35 years this dialogue has addressed questions of authority, including the papacy. The so-called “radical proposals” found in “Growing Together in Unity and Mission” are the same proposals which ARCIC has been putting forward over the past 35 years.
What this document says about the Petrine Ministry is not new, but a synthesis of what is said in ARCIC’s documents on authority (“Authority in the Church I,” 1976; “Authority in the Church II,” 1981; “The Gift of Authority,” 1999).
While it is encouraging that a document of this kind can be produced and that practical day-to-day cooperation between Catholics and Anglicans can be strengthened, talk of plans to reunite the two communions is, sadly, much exaggerated.
The second part of the document sets forward proposals for concrete initiatives, identifying aspects of common mission, common study, common prayer which are for the most part already permitted according to authoritative sources of the Catholic Church and the provinces of the Anglican Communion.