Report on the Document "The Gift of Authority"

Anglican Theological Review, Spring 2005 | Go to article overview
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Report on the Document "The Gift of Authority"


Editorial Note: "The Gift of Authority" (GA) is the third agreed statement on authority produced by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC).1 It builds on ARCIC's earlier work on authority, released in 1976 and 1981. "The Gift of Authority" examines outstanding matters about ivhich there had not previously been consensus, including the complementarity of conciliarity and primacy. On the basis of its studies, ARCIC states that there is "sufficient agreement on universal primacy as a gift to be shared, for us to propose that such a primacy could be offered and received even before our churches are in full communion" (para. 60).

In 1999 the Anglican Consultative Council commended GA to the provinces of the Anglican Communion for study and response by 2005. To date, official responses from the Church of Ireland, the Episcopal Church in the USA, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Church of England, and the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil have been published.

The report that follows has been edited for greater clarity, and some citations have been added.

Background

The document "The Gift of Authority" came into being in 1998, the fruit of work done by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC). It is a text that attempts to find points in common around ecclesiological questions. In the years following its publication, the document has been the subject of analysis by various theologians of those two Christian denominations. Subsequently, the Anglican Consultative Council requested that the provinces of the Anglican Communion study the document and issue an official response.

The Anglican Studies Center (ASC) took on the responsibility for this study in our country. During 2002 we held three regional meetings, with bishops, clergy, and lay persons participating. They met for two days of deep study, critical analysis, and debate on the document. The meetings were held in Santa Maria (with representatives of the three southern dioceses: Southern, Southwestern, and Pelotas) in June 2002, in Recife (with representatives of the Dioceses of Brasilia and Recife) in August 2002, and in São Paulo (with representatives of the Dioceses of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, and of the Missionary District of Amazonia) in September 2002, with a total of forty-one participants. At each meeting representatives were chosen to write a final report on the studies. A meeting of this group was planned for February 2003. However, because of steep increases in airfares and other unexpected expenses, the meeting could not be held. Thus the coordinator of the ASC was charged with the task of writing a preliminary text, with the help of Bishop Sumio Takatsu, and of distributing it to representatives of each meeting so that they could add their comments and suggestions. After receiving these suggestions, a final report was prepared by the Drafting Commission. It is now presented to the House of Bishops and the Executive Council of the Synod of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil.

Methodology

The following methodology was adopted for the three regional meetings:

At the outset all the participants named by their respective dioceses received copies of the document "The Gift of Authority," as well as studies of the document already in circulation on the Internet. The recommendation was that all the materials be read before the meeting.

During the meetings, the time was divided into study periods, worship, and a sharing of experiences. At all the meetings, the Holy Eucharist was led by one of the participants, with the homily being the responsibility of Bishop Naudal Gomes (Santa Maria meeting), the Rev. Jorge Aquino (Recife meeting), and the Rev. Samuel de Souza (meeting in Sâo Paulo).

The theological consultants at the meetings were the Rev. Jaci Maraschin, member of ARCIC, and the Rt. Rev. Sumio Takatsu, member of the House of Bishops.

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