WASHINGTON (December 19, 2005)– As Christmas approaches and Christ's Nativity is retold, U.S. Anglicans and Roman Catholics continue their reflection on "Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ," a document published out of a five-year study process engaging the two faith communities.
The document reflects the work of the Anglican - Roman Catholic International Commission, which in 1999 began a new study of the role of the Virgin Mary in the life and doctrine of the Church.
First released as the "Seattle statement" in 2004, the document was officially published in May 2005. [Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ. Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission; Morehouse Publishing, 2005; 81 pages; ISBN: 0819281328; $14.95.]
The Mary document was a topic of broad and analytical discussion at the 59th meeting of the Anglican - Roman Catholic Dialogue in the United States, held October 13-16 at St. Paul's College in Washington, D.C. The meeting was co-chaired by Episcopal Bishop Ted Gulick (Kentucky) and Auxiliary Bishop John Dunne (Rockville Centre).
Participants noted the document's study of scripture, tradition and developments after the division of the churches, along with its forging of an ecumenical methodology. "This document can serve as a model in its inclusion of all the areas that contribute to ecumenical dialogue" noted Rev. Arthur Kennedy, Executive Director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Ruth Meyers and Joanne Pierce presented a report on the final editing of the parish resource text, The Gift of Unity: A Study Guide for Episcopalians and Roman Catholics; they also informed the body about the consultation with publishers. The guide studies the liturgical prayers of baptism and Eucharist in each of the churches.
A report was made by Ellen Wondra on the process of the selection of bishops for each of the two communions. Additional work will continue on the study on Regional Authority. "This part of our ongoing work takes on special relevance as the Episcopal Church frames its corporate response to the Windsor process," said Bishop Christopher Epting, deputy for ecumenical and interfaith relations for the Episcopal Church.
Following assignments that had been given at the previous meeting three papers and three responses were presented on topics that had been assigned to a number of members.
Episcopal priest Thomas Briedenthal spoke from the Anglican side on the theme "Communion as Disagreement;" Rev. Robert Imbelli presented a response. Francis Sullivan SJ gave a paper on "The Participation of the Laity in Decision-making in the Post- Vatican II Catholic Church"; Marsha Dutton responded to him. Robert Pritchard presented on the topic "The Question of Reception;" and Rev. Robert Trisco responded to him.
During the meeting, participants used the College chapel for prayer and daily Eucharist, alternating Roman Catholic and Anglican celebrations, and respecting the Eucharistic discipline of each church. Together, in the morning and evening, the members shared prayer from The Book of Common Prayer and The Liturgy of the Hours.
Prayers were offered for Archbishop William Levada who had been the co-chair bishop for the dialogue and has been appointed the president for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith by Pope Benedict XVI. Since the meeting, Bishop Richard Sklba, Chairman of the Bishops Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, has announced the new Roman Catholic co-chair. He is Bishop Edward W. Clark, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.