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And now, ARCIC III: isn’t it time to bring this ecumenical farce to an end?

The forthcoming discussions will be an expensive freebie that achieves nothing

By on Monday, 7 February 2011

Pope Benedict XVI and Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, sign a joint declaration in 2006 (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

Pope Benedict XVI and Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, sign a joint declaration in 2006 (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

I begin with a simple news announcement, as reported by Zenit, the Catholic online news outlet:

The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) is opening a new phase of dialogue with a meeting scheduled for May 17-27.

A communiqué from the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity noted that this new phase of work was mandated by Benedict XVI and the Anglican archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, at their meeting in November 2009.

The first meeting of the new phase of the commission will take place at the Monastery of Bose in Northern Italy.
 
The communiqué noted that ‘the task of this third phase of ARCIC will be to consider fundamental questions regarding the “Church as Communion – Local and Universal,” and “How in Communion the Local and Universal Church Comes to Discern Right Ethical Teaching”.

Thus, and much more, Zenit. Zenit doesn’t comment on such matters: but it doesn’t give much background, either. You wouldn’t guess from this straightfaced announcement (and perhaps the boys and girls at Zenit don’t even realise) that the said meeting will not only be an expensive freebie for those involved but also utterly futile, an absolute and total waste of time. But you can probably gather that from the Catholic Herald report: I’m pretty sure the Herald newsdesk does know it, though their report doesn’t actually say so (and probably better not; it’s hardly necessary, since unlike Zenit’s, the Herald report does give the necessary background for us to come to that conclusion ourselves):

Pope Benedict XVI and Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, met in late 2009. They pledged to continue the formal dialogue even as the ordination of women as priests and bishops, the blessing of gay unions and the ordination of openly gay clergy threatened the unity of the Anglican Communion and made it more difficult for Catholics and Anglicans to see a way for their communities to draw closer together.
 
Shortly after the Pope and archbishop met, the Vatican announced that a new round of dialogue, referred to as ARCIC III, would deal with “fundamental questions regarding the Church as communion local and universal, and how in communion the local and universal Church comes to discern right ethical teaching”.

In the wake of the recent collapse of Muslim-Catholic dialogue, you have to ask what that word “dialogue” has come to mean these days: two groups of irreconcilables, each churning out yet again their own point of view in case their interlocutors weren’t already perfectly well aware of what they think about absolutely everything? I remember as a Catholic-minded Anglican desperately hoping, back in the 70s, in the early days of ARCIC, that a series of statements would somehow emerge which would uncover a common faith, on the basis of which corporate reunion might be a distant prospect. The statements did emerge, on Ministry, Sacraments and so forth: but they were never officially accepted by Rome as being a sound or adequate representation of Catholic belief, and nor were they.

The trouble with ARCIC always was (as a former Catholic member of it once explained to me) that on the Catholic side of the table you have a body of men (mostly bishops) who represent a more or less coherent view, being members of a Church which has established means of knowing and declaring what it believes. On the Anglican side of the table you have a body of men (and it was only men, on both sides, in those days) the divisions between whom are just fundamental as, and sometimes a lot more fundamental than, those between any one of them and the Catholic representatives they faced: they all represented only themselves.
 
And they all, Catholics and Anglicans, quite simply belonged to very different kinds of institution. It isn’t just that Catholics and Anglicans believe different doctrines: it’s that there is between them a fundamental difference over their attitude to the entire doctrinal enterprise. I remember very vividly, in my days as an (Anglican) clergy member of the Chelmsford Diocesan Synod, a debate on one of the ARCIC documents followed by a vote on whether to recommend to the General Synod in London that it should be accepted. The document was accepted overwhelmingly. At lunchtime, standing at the bar with a number of clergy, I asked how they had voted; they had all voted affirmatively. I then asked them if they had read the document. None of them had; and most of them, it became clear, had little idea of what it contained. “Well”, I asked, puzzled, “why did you vote for it, then?”  “The point is,” one of them replied, “the important thing is unity. The RCs are frightfully keen on doctrine. You have to encourage them: so I voted for their document”. There you have it: what the late Mgr Graham Leonard, when he was still an Anglican bishop, once called “the doctrinal levity of the Church of England”.

And in the end, that fundamental disqualification of ARCIC remains: it is an endless time-consuming discussion between representatives of the Catholic Church on one side, and a varying group of individuals who represent only themselves on the other.  And so it will be at the next ARCIC meeting. Some of the Anglicans will be quite close to the views of their (hum, hum) “spiritual leader”, Rowan Williams; others will be very far from them. A document so general that they can all subscribe to it will somehow be cobbled together. Nobody will read it: and the whole operation will at great expense achieve nothing.
 
Can anybody explain to me why we carry on with ARCIC? Is there any real intention, as 30 years ago there undoubtedly was, of actually acheiving something? Is it a continuing self-delusion on the part of those participating? Or is ARCIC III just a PR exercise, designed to avert attention from the fact that we have now, inevitably but finally, come to the bitter end of the ecumenical road?
 
Whatever it is, we will all, finally, have to face reality: and, surely, the sooner the better.

  • Anonymous

    Diplomacy Dr Oddie!
    In the same way the Praetorian guard made the Roman laws ‘legal’
    We need an ARCIC III to basically show that we’re at an immovable impasse.
    It’s required – not for the Anglicans – but our own crowd of oecumaniacs – mostly our professional laity and clergy in Conference.
    They are the ones who need to have the plain facts rammed down their throats that any compromise by the Church is utterly untenable – and they MUST cease and desist from denying the situation and mendaciously raising false hope.
    ARCIC III also gives His Holiness an opportunity to act on the scandal and sacrilege occurring throughout the land with shared tabernacles, Anglican churches used for Catholic parishes, Catholic/Anglican ‘concelebrations’ etc [all the banalities and travesties which have been around us since +Cormac was in Arundel and Brighton.
    This shiny new ‘accord’ will provide the Vatican with enough ammo to act…

    Fantastic article by the way – by far the best we’ve had on here for ages.

  • John Thomas

    Above all, you (RCs; I speak as an Anglican) must not get sucked into the Anglican talk-talk-talk forever, but never come to any conclusion about anything syndrome. And as to your own “oecumaniacs”, I agree with paulpriest here.

  • Ezra

    Pope Benedict spoke in favour of ARCIC at Lambeth Palace in September 2010. Does Dr Oddie consider himself more Catholic than the Pope? That way lies the funny farm. The underlying vision for ARCIC and similar endeavours was set out by Pope Benedict in Cologne in 2005:

    I feel the fact that we consider one another brothers and sisters, that we love one another, that together we are witnesses of Jesus Christ, should not be taken so much for granted. I believe that this brotherhood is in itself a very important fruit of dialogue that we must rejoice in, continue to foster and to practice. Among Christians, fraternity is not just a vague sentiment, nor is it a sign of indifference to truth. As you just said, Bishop, it is grounded in the supernatural reality of the one Baptism which makes us all members of the one Body of Christ. Together we confess that Jesus Christ is God and Lord; together we acknowledge him as the one mediator between God and man, and we emphasize that together we are members of his Body. Based on this essential foundation of Baptism, a reality comes from him which is a way of being, then of professing, believing and acting. Based on this crucial foundation, dialogue has borne its fruits and will continue to do so.

    …We all know there are numerous models of unity and you know that the Catholic Church also has as her goal the full visible unity of the disciples of Christ, as defined by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council in its various Documents. This unity, we are convinced, indeed subsists in the Catholic Church, without the possibility of ever being lost; the Church in fact has not totally disappeared from the world. On the other hand, this unity does not mean what could be called ecumenism of the return: that is, to deny and to reject one’s own faith history. Absolutely not! It does not mean uniformity in all expressions of theology and spirituality, in liturgical forms and in discipline. Unity in multiplicity, and multiplicity in unity: in my Homily for the Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul on 29 June last, I insisted that full unity and true catholicity in the original sense of the word go together. As a necessary condition for the achievement of this coexistence, the commitment to unity must be constantly purified and renewed; it must constantly grow and mature. To this end, dialogue has its own contribution to make. More than an exchange of thoughts, an academic exercise, it is an exchange of gifts, in which the Churches and the Ecclesial Communities can make available their own riches. As a result of this commitment, the journey can move forward, step by step, as the Letter to the Ephesians says, until at last we will all “attain to the unity of faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”.

  • Daveofthenewcity

    As an Anglican who has strayed here by chance, and who requires things to be spelled out simply, could you explain why the ‘hum hum’ and the quotations marks on “spiritual leader”? Is it a deliberate attempt to be offensive and do your little bit to undermine ecumenism?

  • Anonymous

    er…Dave – did you ever, perchance, listen to Dr Williams speech in Rome last year?
    Maybe you should ; before you begin casting aspersions that Dr Oddie’s being offensive.
    http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/2616

  • Martin in reply to William

    Maybe one of the reasons that ARCIC should continue is that it is a visible witness of what Christian Hope ‘could’ achieve? Both groups of people here, ( for all their open sores) are children of the same Father and brothers to his only Begotten Son.

    I am tempted to say that maybe these meeting matter more to the Holy Spirit that they do for us? I think that if we only started to understand the heartbeat of God then we would be appalled at the pain we are causing him.

    Maybe ARCIC is a lesson in constant endurance and never giving up. Maybe it is a picture of the Love of God in action. Maybe we should not judge so that we ourselves wouldn’t be judged in the same way, for if God did hold us accountable for the things within our church, i would expect us all to be dressed in ashes and sackcloth. I for one am convinced that the disagreements you are mentioning are in all reality once again piecing the very one who saved my life and yours?

    Unity was and remains one of the biggest concerns of God (only to be topped, In my opinion, by his concern for those that live apart from him).
    If we as brothers can’t get it right, ( in the name of an all faithful and forgiving Father), maybe we don’t deserve to represent Christ to the world anymore?
    Let me be plain, God has no favourites here, both are his children, both have gone astray in recent history. Maybe both need to get on their knees and wait on the Holy Spirit. My prayer is that we would earnestly seek the Heart of Christ, Love each other without pointing out the splinter in the other persons eye and live as God intended. As true witnesses to a broken world. Yes, i know the universal church is deformed in many areas at the moment and maybe the only way of healing this is to go to the only Doctor with the power to heal. The one we both call Father and by who’s adoption have the right to be called Son’s. God Bless.

  • James

    Dave, as an Anglican, I take offense that a fellow Anglican would wish to belittle Catholic judgment with regards to our own “spiritual leader.” They don’t have anyone in their top level of leadership who denies the divinity of Christ or the resurrection as do we. As a result, we have basically “lost it” and should be open to hearing what people of other faithful Trinitarian churches have to say about us, rather than being offended by the help they offer us in revealing things about the state of our church and our leaders. We shouldn’t be getting huffy and offended when we are the perpetrators of great crimes upon the rest of Trinitarian Christianity, no longer even being Trinitarian in practice oursleves, while still pretending to the title.

  • http://twitter.com/johjeff Jeffrey C. Johnson

    God bless the Pope – His Holiness and Perseverance profoundly eclipse my own. Does anyone really think the Anglican Communion is going to renounce homosexual marriage, female priests, homosexual clergy, etc.? That boat has already sailed – that can of worms is already open – and will truly take an Act of God to bring it back into port or put the lid back on. The only answer to True Christian Unity, as desired by Christ, is to convert individuals to the Catholic Church, as She has always done.

  • frater sejunctus

    Mmm, isn’t an ‘expensive freevbie’ something of a contradictio in adjectio?

  • Anonymous

    “Can anybody explain to me why we carry on with ARCIC?” Ask the Pope, he clearly thinks it is a valuable exercise. But of course unlike many “traditional” Catholics he is not consumed by rage,bitterness and paranoia.

  • RJ

    Thank you. A very informative post, from which I have learned something. The Pope’s idea of ‘exchange of gifts’ indicates that this is not a futile exercise.

    The Pope’s words reminded me of Lumen Gentium 8: ‘many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its [the Catholic Church's] visible structure. These elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward catholic unity.’

    I wonder if the gifts of the Anglicans are such gifts.

    The full sentence is:
    This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him,(13*) although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure. These elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward catholic unity.

    The Pope’s thought seems to follow the same pattern, moving from the reality of the Church, subsisting in the Catholic Church, to elements outside its visible boundaries, which are nevertheless of value.

  • Anonymous

    So say you now – until His Holiness makes a comment about anything – and I mean anything – with which you disagree – then he reverts to being denounced as the tyrannical ogre – yes Heythrop?

  • JKirkLVNV

    Precisely. One wonders what the Commission possibly has to talk about…what to order for lunch, perhaps?

  • Paul McKechnie

    I know William Oddie is doing his best, but his logic is poor.

    ARCIC statements were ‘never officially accepted by Rome as being a sound or adequate representation of Catholic belief’–but he says it was the clergy on the Anglican side who represented only themselves. If the Catholic participants were representing those who sent them, the ARCIC statements could (you’d think) have been accepted at the top in Rome.

    Anglican clergy could vote for ARCIC statements without reading them, but somehow William Oddie thinks the Anglican participants ‘represented only themselves’.

  • W Oddie

    But they could represent nobody else, since Anglicanism has no means of determining what is representative and what isn’t, or even what is normal Anglican belief and what isn’t. Do Anglicans believe in the real presence? Some do some don’t. Do you see what I mean?

  • W Oddie

    Well, no : it’s a freebie for the participants, expensive for those who have to pay for it. Who that is, i don’t know; but I bet those of us in the pews pay our share.

  • W Oddie

    Quite so; also, my rage, if any is fairly mild; a touch of impatience or exasperation, perhaps. As for bitterness and paranoia, I think I need to have that explained; that sounds more iike the “Spirit of Vatican II” afficionados to me.

  • W Oddie

    Not, not really. The point is, I suppose, that to be described as the “spiritual leader” of a religion demands a certain kind of religion, one which accepts the notion of spiritual authority. The Dalai Lama is spiritual leader of Tibetan buddhists, for instance, in a way in which no Archbishop of Canterbury can be the “spiritual leader” of Anglicans. When I look back on the Archbishops of Canterbury of my own lifetime, it’s not possible to think of one of them in this way: it’s just not that kind of office. Michael Ramsey stands out because of his own deep and evident personal spirituality: but even he would I am sure have denied that he was the Anglican communion’s spiritual leader.

  • Daveofthenewcity

    I’ve been a member of an ecumenical Church for almost 24 years (Church of Christ the Cornerstone in Milton Keynes – http://sites.google.com/site/churchofchristthecornerstonemk/), and while there’s been plenty of areas of disagreement over the years, we – by and large! – treat each other with respect. It is one thing to present reasons for disagreement (which is what you did in most of your article, and which is you have done in this comment), but …(hum hum) “spiritual leader” … comes across as provocative. It’s a small thing, I know, but steps towards reconciliation are hard and the slide towards conflict and division is easy. We can’t ignore difference, but there is nothing to stop us choosing our language and our ways of speaking in order to avoid unnecessary offense.

  • SPQRatae

    While I completely understand your exasperation, the fact remains that the Pope himself has mandated these talks. I am quite sure he has his reasons, even if they are not obvious to us. That’s good enough for me.
    Roma locuta est, causa finita est.

  • W Oddie

    I am moved by your visionary understanding of all this. But I have been watching this process with hope in my heart for three decades now, and it has led to nothing remotely resembling your vision, only to disillusionment and cynicism. I only wish you were right. But your vision, I am certain, isn’t by now even shared by the participants.

    I feel sure that Pope Benedict feels that he cannot discontinue this process until it has shown its futility beyond peradventure, until it has truly and visibly come to the end of the road: and he must also show that anglicanorum coetibus is not a matter of “the pope fishing in anglican waters”, one unworthy accusation attaching to the ordinariate. So, for now, I see that the whole thing must continue. But in the end (probably, given my advanced years, I will be dead by then, and will have other, more urgent concerns) I believe that I will be proved fright about this.

  • W Oddie

    There is also such a thing as taking offence in order to give it: it’s a well recognised aggressive tactic, which I am quite sure you are now deploying. You want to take offence? Go ahead: be my guest.

    I see that you first describe yourself as an Anglican (so as to be able credibly to take offence, presumably), and then as “a member of an ecumenical Church”. Which is it?

  • W Oddie

    See my response to Martin, above

  • Daveofthenewcity

    I brought up an Anglican but when I moved to Milton Keynes I joined the Church of Christ the Cornerstone. So I suppose I am an Anglican who attends an ecumenical Church. Or maybe I’m not an Anglican any more. I don’t know and I’m not sure it really matters. But I do admire Rowan Williams, whether he’s my spiritual leader or not!

    As to the rest of what you say, I think it’s best not to respond. I’ve made my point and I can see that any further exchange could just escalate.

  • http://twitter.com/RCYouthWorker Jack Regan

    I suspect the following comments will make me a little unpopular, so please accept my apologies in advance for what will hopefully at least be interesting…

    I was at +Cormac’s talk on Ecumenism at Worth Abbey in 2009, the week after Anglicanorum Coetibus was announced. A lot of people that the latter made the former rather pointless, but I disagreed, as did +C.

    When questioned about the Ordinariate and its effect on the ecumenical process, +C said that it didn’t really affect ecumenical dialogue as it wasn’t really a matter concerned with how two ecclesial bodies interacted, but rather a response to a specific request from those who wanted to leave one for the other. A fact which was reinforced by Anna Arco’s brilliant interview with Fr. Burnham last month.

    As for the ARCIC process, there is of course an extent to which the two communities are unreconcilable. Indeed, if there weren’t huge sticking points between us then we simply wouldn’t be too distinct communities in the first place. I rather suspect that it is a little foolish to think that dialogue is rendered pointless by the very thing which necessitates it in the first place.

    The fact is that we don’t know how different things would have been had ARCIC not existed. That’s an unsatisfactory statement, for sure, but one that can’t be discounted. Would the clergy conversions of the 1990s have happened without it? Would the Ordinariate?

    Well, maybe. But we can’t say so for certain.

    I also think – and this is where I get really irritating and vague – that the fruits of ecumenical dialogue cannot be measured simply by conversions. We have to trust that the Spirit has been at work.

    I know that Dr. Oddie isn’t necessarily claiming any of his points in the article above, but still.

    Regarding the point that there is less impetus for ARCIC now than in the past, I would agree. Though, I don’t think it’s completely pointless, the Anglican Communion isn’t what it was. I think they are heading for a situation where a lot of them leave toward Rome, a lot more of them leave toward Evangelical Churches and a stubborn, dying remnant clings on in the centre of the communion for dear life.

    That remnant is what ARCIC must now deal with, and it will be difficult.

  • Martin

    William, i am sorry about your pain in this but i honestly see a situation where if you are right then all there will be is issues far worse than where we are at the moment. I think it resembles a ship attached by a rope to a harbour. At the moment the wind and rain is raging, the sea is foaming and the rope holding the ship to safety is in real danger so fraying and falling apart.
    In this scenario the ship is the CofE that has, or is, in real danger of goings to its doom. I has in certain areas gone more than astray from the teaching of Jesus. The Harbour in this case is the Catholic church that is currently lending its moral rightness to the ship in danger. Some may say well let it just snap and be done with it. I would hate this to happen, in some cases the truths that have been stored on this ship should challenge us all for the better. There are some very precious cargo on this ship worth saving. The problem is as i think you alude to, there are some people on board that are in effect pirates and want it to fail. They want both sides to come apart and make their job of destroying the church easier.
    Now, in all this dont think i dont understand the differences between the church of England and the Catholic church, but it is not the old favorites that we are complaining about. There are other things slipping in that no one who takes the bible seriously can defend, even out of love. This is when the bound between brothers need to be strongest in order to allow the one experience difficulty from getting ship wrecked.
    I would argue that these two brothers, whilst constantly being accused of sometimes hating each other,(sometimes making each other bleed) that through the amazing and unfathomable ways of the Holy Spirit need each other in order to discover the full height, depth and width of the love of God that he has for us in his Son Jesus.
    I will repeat. We need each other because we are a family. We need each other because we are of One House and God needs us to prove to the world that anything is possible to those who truelly believe. As to the other arguments that exist within a family, i think we can be sure that at the right time, Our Father will take both children by the hands and show us where we have all gone wrong.
    In Hope and God Bless

  • Sarasvatip

    It’s time to put those who peddlehateful and divisive speech on these pages out to pasture. Sackcloth and ashes and perhaps even stocks and whips would be too good for these false Pharisees using the cloak of Jesus to hide their evilfrom their public. Repent beforeit is too late.

  • Deacon Augustine

    Dr Oddie,

    I agree with you that the talks are a farce if the objective is seen to be corporate union of the Anglican Communion with the Catholic Church. However, Rome has already stated that this is no longer a realistic possibility due to the anti-christian doctrines, practices and abominable morality that many in the leadership of that ecclesial community have embraced.

    But if the objective is seen to be the maintenance of friendly relations and keeping the door open to proclaim the full Gospel to Anglicans, then there can still be fruit to be had from the dialogue. There are still many good people in the CofE who despair at the direction in which their church is heading, and yet for various reasons cannot bring themselves to make the leap of faith and trust required to surrender to Christ’s will for unity with Peter. Dispelling their misconceptions about the Church and letting them know that friendly arms are waiting to catch them are still imperatives even if hopes for corporate reunion are futile.

    In erecting the Ordinariate the Holy Father has provided the means for whatever corporate reunion is possible by ensuring that those graces which exist outside the Church, but impel towards Catholic unity, can come to fruition. These fruits will be all the greater if channels of communication can be kept open. However, a great responsibility rests on the Catholic participants not compromising one iota on doctrine or morals for the sake of facile understandings.

  • Paul McKechnie

    With respect, father, I don’t think this is fair comment. ‘Normal Anglican belief’ is that we believe in the four ecumenical councils, the three creeds, and the thirty-nine articles. The issue of the real presence is addressed in the thirty-nine articles (a fact which, as a learned man and formerly one of us, I believe you know to be the case).

    There is a lengthy record of clergy whose views were/are hard to reconcile with a straightforward reading of these documents being ordained and continuing to minister in the Church of England and other Anglican churches. (Some would think that if that was true in the seventeenth century, it is ten times as true today.)

    What this shows is that the Anglicans don’t have a Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, or (even more importantly) a Pope. Therefore I don’t see why anyone would expect Anglicans in general to ‘be quite close to the views of their (hum, hum) “spiritual leader”’. He is not a Pope, and that isn’t how it works.

    In conclusion, and as your article is right to point out, the Anglican and Roman churches are very different kinds of institutions. Me, I’m far from convinced that further ARCIC proceedings are worth the effort. I doubt if anyone is intentionally aiming to get an ‘expensive freebie’, but where your article IS fair comment is in pointing out that ARCIC will use up resources which might be better allocated elsewhere.

  • W Oddie

    The thirty-nine articles have no real authority: when I was ordained, I was asked to assent to them as part of a “heritage” of faith; my ordaining bishop explained that this meant I didn’t have to believe them. The “heritage”, incidentally, included the creeds: apparently I didn’t have to believe them, either.

  • Adam

    Absolutely. You really have to wonder what they could agree on, other than lunch and dinner. The end of this farce has come about as the theologoical chasm has just become so wide that no feat of modern spiritual engineering by any Pope or Arch of Canterbury could ever fathom. It is a fact that the Anglican communion has women priests, women bishops and no doubt will soon have divorced and remarried bishops etc. Does the list ever end when the Anglicans will just invent somwthing else and stray even further away from the Truth. Ridiculous

  • Anonymous

    I”I was asked to assent to them as part of a “heritage” of faith; my ordaining bishop explained that this meant I didn’t have to believe them. The “heritage”, incidentally, included the creeds: apparently I didn’t have to believe them, either.”

    Oh dear, how very Anglican.

  • Paul McKechnie

    Almost exactly my point. The only evidence for the view that belief in the thirty-nine articles is optional is that some persons (OK, including bishops) have been saying so for some time. These persons are (in my words) ‘clergy whose views were/are hard to reconcile with a straightforward reading of these documents’.

    The idea that ‘assent’ ought not to comprehend ‘belief’ some people (perhaps signum_magnum) would class as a charming example of English moderation. Me, I’d call it ‘hard to reconcile with a straightforward reading’–and that’s an understatement; indeed, I fear in some cases the persons who advocated that idea, and the persons who assented [sic] to it, were deceiving themselves. In conclusion, they might as well be Quakers–not that that’s such a terrible fate.

  • Js898

    why should it be a farce? They have already made substantial agreement in ARCIC 1 and 2. The work continues. The only way to unity is to build it from the ground up based on the bible and the liturgy. Taking into consideration retired Cardinal Walter Kasper’s words and differentiation that unity and unifromity are two different things. We aim for unity between the two churches. ARCIC is the only way to draw the churches together substantially because it is based on resolving the tough theological and liturgical questions. I haven’t given up hope on the ARCIC. For me its the ONLY path to unity. I hope to see the churches UNITED during my lifetime and the lifetime of this splendid Professor Pope