ARCIC Document `Vision of Future Reality': Church Should Consider `Nuances'

By Harris, David | Anglican Journal, October 1999 | Go to article overview

ARCIC Document `Vision of Future Reality': Church Should Consider `Nuances'


Harris, David, Anglican Journal


The senior Anglican of an international ecumenical group with Roman Catholics is urging critics to get beyond emotions and look at the "nuances" of a recent document suggesting the pope should be the head of both churches.

Bishop Frank Griswold, who co-chairs the group with Roman Catholic bishop Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, said a recent publication by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission promoting the idea of the pope as the chief bishop of the two churches is not meant to be the final word in a discussion. Rather, he said, it is "a vision of a future reality rather than dealing with complications present now" in the churches. "It's leaven in the dough."

The Gift of Authority was jointly published in the spring by the two denominations and has caused considerable reaction, especially in the Anglican world. But evangelical Anglicans have been joined by liberal Roman Catholics in condemning the statement that calls the pope's authority -- known as universal primacy -- a "gift to be shared."

In an interview after ARCIC's recent meeting held outside Toronto, Bishop Griswold acknowledged much of the initial reaction to Gift of Authority bas been negative. But he said some of that was "emotional." He challenged the churches to look at the "quite significant ... nuances" in the text. He said Anglicans have to consider what kind of papal authority they might accept and Roman Catholics have to consider what role lay people might have in governing the church in synods.

Bishop Griswold also admitted most of the nuances concern what the Roman Catholic Church might consider re-establishing in its life and governance but he said that was because the role and authority of the pope has been a clear issue in ecumenical talks for a long time.

"Early on, ARCIC identified universal primacy as a stumbling block," he said.

But Bishop Griswold said the role of the bishop in synod, which is the centre of Anglican authority, will be important for Roman Catholics to consider in light of a similar emphasis in their church at Vatican II. "How the mind of Christ is discerned is not merely through episcopal teaching," he said, but "the whole church, including the laity" is involved. …

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