Thinking Anglicans

Vatican dicastery offers opinion on Anglicans

The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity has issued an Update on Relations with the Anglican Communion. This document is dated 27 April 2005, and refers to a letter of 17 December 2004. from Cardinal Kasper to Rowan Williams.

Part of the Update document reads as follows:

Overview of recent developments

In 2003, the decision of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America to ordain as bishop a priest in an active homosexual relationship, as well as the introduction of a rite of blessing for same sex couples in the Diocese of New Westminster in the Anglican Church of Canada, created new obstacles for relations between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. As a result of these actions and the uncertainty they created, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity agreed with representatives of the Anglican Communion to put on hold the plenary meetings of the International Anglican – Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM), while maintaining close communication with the Anglican Communion Office and with Lambeth Palace. Established in 2001, IARCCUM is an episcopally led body aimed at fostering practical initiatives that would give expression to the degree of faith shared by Anglicans and Catholics.

Faced with major tensions within the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, established the ‘Lambeth Commission’, mandating it to prepare a report -eventually entitled The Windsor Report – on possible future directions for the Anglican Communion. As part of the Anglican discernment process, Archbishop Williams asked Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, to join him in setting up a joint ad hoc sub-commission made up of IARCCUM and ARCIC members, to reflect, in light of the work of ARCIC over the past 35 years, on the ecclesiological issues facing Anglicans.

When the Lambeth Commission published The Windsor Report in October, 2004, once again the Anglican Communion sought a response from its ecumenical partners. Cardinal Kasper was asked by Archbishop Williams to write a letter offering reflections on The Windsor Report (this letter can be read here ) and, at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury, travelled to London for conversations with him and staff of the Anglican Communion Office in early February. On both occasions Cardinal Kasper emphasised the importance of clarifying both ecclesiological and moral issues related to the current situation.

The Windsor Report presents an ecclesiology which has broad similarities with that set forward in ARCIC’s agreed statements, and proposes various practical steps to situate the autonomy of Anglican provinces more clearly within the interdependence of the Anglican Communion. In February of 2005, the Anglican Primates endorsed The Windsor Report, and reiterated that the Anglican Communion’s teaching about human sexuality remains that stated at the Lambeth Conference of 1998, which affirmed the traditional Christian understanding of marriage and human sexuality.

The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity is of the opinion that these developments affirm the general thrust and conclusions of the understanding of the nature of the Church put forward in the ARCIC dialogue to this point, and that this provides a foundation for continued dialogue and ecumenical co-operation.

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Alan HarrisonDouglas LewisAnonymous CanadianPeter C.Mark Harris Recent comment authors
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Graham Kings
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Good news. This ‘Update on Relations with the Anglican Communion’ from the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity is very significant indeed, concerning the concept of ‘retrieval’ in ecumenical relations. It shows that The Windsor Report, and the Primates’ Meeting, have been taken seriously and that The Windsor Report is seen as a weighty contribution to ecclesiology in circles wider than Anglicanism.

Mark Harris
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Mark Harris

Thanks for the information. I am interested that the “update” is very careful to speak of the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion until the beginning of the last paragraph where it speaks of “relations between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.” I would hope that is a simple slip of the pen (or the keyboard), but it is of course at the base of a continuing argument, namely that the Anglican Communion, like the Roman Catholic Church, is part of the Catholic Church (as in the one we speak of in the creeds). The question of the… Read more »

Peter C.
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Peter C.

Graham, you’re kidding, right? In diplomatic language, Cardinal Kasper has kindly told the Anglicans that they have departed from the Faith of the Church and that they need to get back to the traditional definition of marriage. The Windsor Report is not so much “a weighty contribution to ecclesiology” as it is a sad sign of how far gone the Anglican Communion is from knowing what it means to be a part of the Church.

Anonymous Canadian
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Anonymous Canadian

I still am a bit confused by the Anglo-Catholic attitude. Anglicans are a reformed church for a reason — namely the abuses of the Roman church — and in order for the Roman church to enjoy full communion with us, it needs to reforms itself, renouncing idolatry, returning to the New Testament sense of ministry rather than a quasi-Levitical priesthood, offer communion in both kinds, stop claiming quasi-divine status for the Bishop of Rome, etc.

Douglas Lewis
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Douglas Lewis

Mr Harris is going to be disappointed one way or the other. From the RC stnadpoint, any development in relations that might lead to common ministry, &c., will be based in part on the teaching about human sexuality that was stated at the Lambeth Conference of 1998.

Alan Harrison
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Alan Harrison

Mark Harris wrote: “But the Roman Catholic Church does not recognize my orders in ministry or that of women companions in ordained ministry.” But neither do a lot of Anglicans! It was reasonably pointed out by Forward in Faith UK, when the Archbishops of Canterbury and York issued a joint moan about Rome not accepting the vailidity of Anglican ordinations, that +David Ebor: himself regards the ordination of Anglican women “priests” as absolutely null and utterly void. FiF happens to agree with him, as do I, but we do see an inconsistency here. Did +David expect the Roman dicasteries to… Read more »