Wed 1st Oct 2014 | Last updated: Wed 1st Oct 2014 at 15:58pm

Facebook Logo Twitter Logo RSS Logo
Hot Topics

Comment & Blogs

ARCIC III sounds like a lot of hot air

After the creation of the Personal Ordinariate there’s not much left to talk about

By on Thursday, 2 June 2011

Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham (Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk)

Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham (Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk)

Today is, or should be, Ascension Day. Even though my cheap and completely secular diary, bought at Tesco’s in the January sale, actually says “Ascension Day” in its heading (as well as telling me that Saturday is Constitution Day in Denmark), when I went to Mass this morning we celebrated the Feast of SS Marcellinus and Peter instead. An Anglican friend, who has spent the last five weeks hiking around Shropshire, has emailed me to say that she is deliberately planning to return home today for the Ascension – one of her favourite feast days, apparently. I understand our bishops are in the process of considering returning the Ascension and the Epiphany back to their proper days in the liturgical calendar. I hope they will come to a speedy and positive conclusion.

I didn’t mean to start off with this thought or indeed mention it at all in this blog; it was simply triggered by the date. I wanted to blog about ARCIC III, having just read an interview about it conducted by Peter Jennings with Archbishop Bernard Longley. (Archbishop Longley is co-chairman of ARCIC III and Mr Jennings is his press secretary).

In case some readers don’t know, ARCIC III is the third phase of the international dialogue between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church. According to Archbishop Longley we have reached “a new stage in the development of fraternal relations” between the two Communions and dialogue is on-going. But, ever since the vote to ordain women priests (and now bishops) in the Anglican Church, what is there to talk about? That vote was a huge historic event and must have caused an enormous fissure in these fraternal relations – even an earthquake. I was going to add the word “permanent” to “fissure” but that would preclude the action of the Holy Spirit to change the situation. Yet the only change that the Catholic Church could countenance would be a return of the Anglican Communion to the all-male priesthood – something that is extremely unlikely. How can there be “dialogue” over this?

Apparently ARCIC III is addressing “the important issues involved in the emerging ecclesiological and ethical factors making that journey [towards union] more difficult and arduous”. Does this mean they are working out a way of calling the whole enterprise off as politely as possible? Jennings did ask: what was the point of the talks since the ordination of women priests and bishops “has put an insurmountable block in the way of full unity”? The archbishop agreed that “ecumenical dialogue has been going through a difficult period” but still insisted that we are still searching for a deeper and fuller communion, bearing in mind Jesus’ words at the Last Supper: “That they all may be one…”

Surely the advent of the Personal Ordinariate will now have caused more problems for the fraternal atmosphere of poor ARCIC III? That phrase “ecumenical dialogue” was so fashionable in the 1970s and 80s; in the 1990s it began to ring hollow; and now that many serious and historically minded Anglicans have come to the only conclusion possible, made easier by the Holy Father’s initiative, to come over to Rome, what is there left to talk about, apart from pleasantries and the duty of charity?

I hesitate to say it, but ARCIC III sounds like a lot of hot air. One thing we could learn from the Anglicans though: to celebrate the Ascension on its proper day.

  • Tony Reader-Moore

    As a former Anglican priest, who I hope is both serious and historically minded and has now become a Catholic via the Ordinariate, I cannot see any real future for the ARCIC project.  The Anglican decision to ordain female priests and bishops together with an increasingly liberal agenda in other areas of ecclesial life, has effectively cancelled out any real hope of organic unity between the two communions.  I think that Francis Phillips is right that apart from the duty of Christian courtesy, there is nothing left to talk about.  Its so very sad.  I remember the historic visit of Archbishop Michael Ramsey to Pope Paul VI which not only initiated this, but raised all our hopes for an entirely different outcome.

  • http://jacquelineparkes.blogspot.com/ Jacquelineparkes

    Oh dear …

  • frater sejunctus

    But surely the Roman Catholic Church is interested in pursuing ecumenical relations with GAFCON, which is now taking structural shape, and one of whose provinces (ACNA) has reopened the touchy matter of the ordination of women. It’s not either the Canterbury-led remant or the Ordinariate. It may be that tertium datur, after all.

  • lady guest

    chaplains,deacons…

  • Warren

    In terms of effecting corporate union, ARCIC is next to pointless. However, even if there is a slim chance that Anglican individuals reading the published documents see, for example, how Anglicanism has departed from the Apostolic Faith, and by contrast that the Catholic Church has never wavered (and never will waver from Her Apostolic origin, thanks be to God!) and welcomes home those seeking Jesus and His Church, then perhaps there is some use for all the theological chitchat. Our job, as the saints remind us, is not to be successful but to be faithful. If the Catholic theologians remain faithful and speak the truth in love to our separated brethren, then surely God will act through them to draw homeward Anglican sheep. Now that the Ordinariate is coming into focus, yet another means is available by which Anglicans may find their way home.

  • Nat_ons

    Even bearing in mind the Lord’s words on unity, there can be no ‘deeper and fuller communion’ than his own Eucharist, its sacrificial offering, and the sacrament by which he offers us participation in it.

    It is clearly unfair to suggest hot air is, primarily, the task set before Archbishop Longley, his genuine desire to advance communal fraternity with the Anglican churches, and thus his very proper – if necessarily strained – efforts to express an orthodox unity of hope (if no longer one in faith). There is prevailing ease by which believers snipe at bishops – especially those who elevate public niceness to an almost sacramental glory and yet turn fanged teeth to their own spiritually hungry private cure; the Archbishop of Birmingham is not one of those .. so far as I am aware .. that ease of complaint is not itself a licencing reason to do so. Sounding the clarion call of caution – if cautiousness can raise more than a polite Anglo-Saxon ‘Erm!’ – is important; lack of due caution was the real bane of ecumenical ventures in the past, leading some to make ridiculous and vain claims for ‘unity’; this false ‘caution-to-the-wind’ vision cannot be Bernard Longley’s approach, so I pray and believe his role can only be blessed with a healthy does of true Christian charity (not the once all-devouring love-in-fests) even if does face the same old-time, inevitable sense of failure  – for although not quite a proverbial poison chalice, it is a tough assignment for any sincerely loyal catholic … especially in situation where hot air is deemed to be the characterisitc climate.

  • Thoughtful Pug

    It would appear that ecumenical dialogue is rapidly headed back to the times of both denominations sending each other a Christmas card every year.

  • SPQRatae

    On the one hand, I think it is uncharitable to be too blunt in stating the obvious: it’s a waste of time.
    On the other hand, I think it is entirely appropriate to question why so much money is being spent on a cosmetic exercise when the money could be put to much better use: repairing churches, investing in Catholic schools, even – dare I say it? – evangelism….

  • Michelle Eves

    From an Anglican
    point of view, I would agree ARCIC should be disbanded and ended. The church of
    England should once and for all state its liturgical reasons why it cannot ever
    unite itself with a roman church of false biblical doctrines.

    Explain
    the lies and falsehoods Rome made up to establish and maintain a story that Christ’s
    church was given via St Peter to Rome (palpable nonsense as never even went there
    and Jesus chose 12 disciples for a good reason) They can explain how the roman
    church gets its acolytes to worship false Gods by diverting them away from the bibles true Christian teachings. Explain that the Roman see is not holy at all but
    infallible and capable of sinful deeds as is the rest of us. Tell them how the Roman
    church promogulate there pope’s equivalence to God himself in Heaven, Earth and Hell,
    and bares a triple crown. (most Romans find that hard to believe themselves.) Tell them of
    the Roman catholic church unofficial policy of omitting the ‘Roman’ in its
    description of itself ( including this website, in order to convince people it is the unquestionable
    universal church of Christ and diluting the fact it was in fact themselves  who horribly crucified Jesus and instigated
    torture and death throughout the ages against his real followers. Tell them the
    real fathers of the Christian church reject the ‘papa’s’) claim and authority
    and always have. Tell them about the unbiblical teachings its teaches. Warn
    them of the bible teachings about false prophets.

    Then
    perhaps on presentation of fact, people are then in a position to make up their own minds about the Roman catholic church.Then
    perhaps on presentation of fact, people are then in a position to make up their own minds about the Roman catholic church.

    Explain
    the lies and falsehoods Rome made up to establish and maintain a story that Christ’s
    church was given via St Peter to Rome (palpable nonsense as never even went there
    and Jesus chose 12 disciples for a good reason) They can explain how the roman
    church gets its acolytes to worship false Gods by diverting them away from the bibles true Christian teachings. Explain that the Roman see is not holy at all but
    infallible and capable of sinful deeds as is the rest of us. Tell them how the Roman
    church promogulate there pope’s equivalence to God himself in Heaven, Earth and Hell,
    and bares a triple crown. (most Romans find that hard to believe themselves.) Tell them of
    the Roman catholic church unofficial policy of omitting the ‘Roman’ in its
    description of itself ( including this website, in order to convince people it is the unquestionable
    universal church of Christ and diluting the fact it was in fact themselves  who horribly crucified Jesus and instigated
    torture and death throughout the ages against his real followers. Tell them the
    real fathers of the Christian church reject the ‘papa’s’) claim and authority
    and always have. Tell them about the unbiblical teachings its teaches. Warn
    them of the bible teachings about false prophets.

    Then
    perhaps on presentation of fact, people are then in a position to make up their own minds about the Roman catholic church.
    Then
    perhaps on presentation of fact, people are then in a position to make up their own minds about the Roman catholic church.