WASHINGTON (April 13, 2004) -- The fifty sixth meeting of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Consultation in the United States (ARC-USA) met March 25-28 at St. Paul's College here. This Consultation had its beginning in September, 1965. At this meeting Roman Catholic Archbishop William F. Levada of the Archdiocese of San Francisco and Episcopal Bishop Edwin F. Gulick of the Diocese of Kentucky co-chaired the Consultation that is composed of theologians and scholars, both laity and clergy.
In the opening session the members reflected on the present contexts of the two churches as the backdrop for the dialogue as it proceeds at the present time. Among other things, they spoke of the abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church and the tensions in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion world wide over the decision of the General Assembly held in July, in Minneapolis, to ordain Bishop Robinson for the Episcopal diocese of New Hampshire.
The co-chairs brought to everyone's attention two projects that have been on going for some time: the first, on "Eucharist and Ministry" and the second, on "Intermediate Levels of Authority" as exercised in both churches. Dr. Ruth Meyers from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, Evanston, Illinois and Prof. Joanne Pierce, from Holy Cross College, Worcester, Massachusetts presented a new draft of the text God's Gift of Unity: A Study Guide for Episcopalians and Roman Catholics. This guide is being designed to deepen understandings of the shared faith traditions, as well as of the differences, between the two churches.
It is intended to be a program for use in parishes and discussions groups and consists of five sessions that explore liturgical worship and Biblical readings that will open on to discussions of participants' experiences of their worship and their growing understanding of rituals and prayer; also included are some of the statements that come from official Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogues. After some further revisions, the guide will be used in some local settings for a trial period, and should be ready in 2005 for use in both churches.
The second project is part of a multi-year study on "Authority" in the churches. Following previous statements on "Local and Universal Authority" and a response to the international dialogue, published under the title The Gift of Authority, this present study undertakes the issues of "intermediate" or "regional" authority. Dr. Ellen Wondra from Bexley Hall Seminary in Rochester, New York, Rev. Francis Sullivan, SJ from Boston College and Prof. Jon Nilson from Loyola University, Chicago, presented drafts on a variety of the constitutive aspects of the larger topic. Their papers addressed different levels of autonomy, regional oversight and universal authorities, as well as the dynamics and tensions among them in both churches.
Agreement for the presentations needed for the next meeting was settled during the planning session. That meeting will be held September 16 -19 in Kansas City, Missouri. The members bade farewell and presented a small gift to Dr. Mary Hines from Emmanuel College, Boston, in gratitude for her years of service to the dialogue.
The members gathered together daily for morning and evening prayer, and Eucharist was celebrated for the members of each communion underlining the sadness of disunity.
In addition to the co-chairmen, Archbishop Levada and Bishop Gulick, attending the March meeting of ARC-USA were: Bishop Barry Robert Howe of the Diocese of Kansas City (MO), Rev. Dr. Ellen K. Wondra, Dr. Marsha L. Dutton, Rev. Canon Dr. J. Robert Wright, Bishop C. Christopher Epting (staff for the Episcopal Church), Rev. Richard S. Signore, Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers, Rev. Dr. Robert W. Prichard, Dr. Rozanne Elder (an Anglican member of the international commission), The Rev. Dirk Reinken (taking minutes), Bishop John C. Dunne of the Diocese of Rockville Centre (NY), Professor Mary E. Hines, Rev. Robert Imbelli, Prof. Joanne M. Pierce, Professor Jon Nilson, Rev. Francis A. Sullivan, Rev. Msgr. Robert Trisco, Rev. Vincent A. Heier, Rev. George Tavard, Mr. Benjamin Brown (taking minutes) and Rev. Arthur Kennedy (staff for the USCCB).