Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Rome & Canterbury: The Elusive Search for Unity

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Rome & Canterbury: The Elusive Search for Unity

Article excerpt

Rome & Canterbury: The Elusive Search for Unity. By Mary Reath. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2007. xvii + 158 pp. $19.95 (cloth).

The key word in the title of this book is neither "Rome" nor "Canterbury," but "elusive." That is to say, elusive as opposed to impossible or inconceivable. For organic unity between Rome and Canterbury is, in the opinion of Mary Reath and others who are close to the international Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue, indeed both possible and conceivable, even while it is disappointingly elusive. Those who are not close to this process-which has been going on in earnest, in spite of many setbacks, for nearly forty years-will learn why this is so by reading this wonderful brief book. It outlines the history of the English church's break with Rome, some developments over the last hundred and fifty years that have exacerbated the breach, and more recent efforts to find a way toward eventual organic unity.

The book is made up of ten succinct chapters divided into three sections: history, authority, and the future. There are also an epilogue, eight appendices, and a bibliography that include documentary materials supporting the preceding chapters.

The first section begins with a review of the main features of the English Reformation and continues with a summary of the Christian scene following the Reformation and how both Rome and Canterbury faced the challenges of modernity in the nineteenth century. It then sets the stage for a discussion of the Roman Catholic-Anglican dialogue by introducing the reader to the twentieth-century ecumenical movement and the beginning of that dialogue at the end of the 1960s.

The next section takes up the overarching issue of authority with a cursory review of early church history with regard to the centrality of Rome on the Christian landscape and the gradual developments of the notions of papal primacy and infallibility. The chapter ends with a summary of the status quo. The second of the two chapters in this section gives an overview of the governance of the two churches as it is today, together with a summary of the second Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission's 1998 statement, The Gift of Authority (Authority in the Church III). …

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