Anglican Communion and ecumenism

Anglican Communion and ecumenism

Anglican interest in ecumenical dialogue can be traced back to the time of the Reformation and dialogues with both Orthodox and Lutheran churches in the sixteenth century. In the nineteenth century, with the rise of the Oxford Movement, there arose greater concern for reunion of the churches of "Catholic confession." This desire to work towards full communion with other denominations led to the development of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, approved by the Third Lambeth Conference of 1888. The four points (the sufficiency of scripture, the historic creeds, the two dominical sacraments, and the historic episcopate) were proposed as a basis for discussion, although they have frequently been taken as a non-negotiable bottom-line for reunion.

Although they are not considered members, some non-Anglican bodies have entered into communion with the Communion as a whole or with its constituent member churches, despite having non-Anglican origins and traditions, such as the Old Catholic Church and Lutherans of the Porvoo Communion, Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.

Diplomatic ecumenism: quest for Christian unity

World Council of Churches

Ecumenical dialogue has been particularly fruitful in three realms. The first is the World Council of Churches and its predecessors, in which Anglicans have been involved from the first. Anglican representatives were particularly involved in the development of the seminal Faith and Order paper, "Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry", which sought to develop common ground concerning these issues, and have been at the centre of the process of developing recent work on the "Nature and Mission of the Church".

Roman Catholic Church

The second concerns dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church. Long-term hostility between the two Communions was engendered by resistance among some English to the declaration of royal supremacy, the confiscation of Church properties, the dissolution of the monasteries, the execution of priests and forced attendance at Anglican worship. There was a brief restoration of communion with Rome during the reign of Mary I. Her death marked the end of Catholic attempts to reconcile by law the English Church to Rome. Subsequently, Pope Pius V's excommunication of Elizabeth I in 1570 and authorisation of rebellion against her contributed to official suspicion of the allegiances of English Catholics. This, combined with a desire to assert the claims of the established church, led initially to renewed persecution by the state, and to the continued enforcement of severe legal restrictions. Most of these restrictions were only relieved through several legislative reforms in the 19th century, cumulatively known as Catholic Emancipation. The last restriction on Roman Catholics excluding them, and those who marry them from the Throne of the United Kingdom (and by extension the other Commonwealth Realms) remains in effect.

Although Catholic Emancipation in the United Kingdom relieved some of the tension, the Catholic response to the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral was articulated in "Apostolicae Curae", an 1896 papal bull which declared Anglican holy orders null and void. Greater rapprochement was achieved in 1966, with the visit of Archbishop Michael Ramsey to Pope Paul VI. The following year, the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission was established. Its first project focused on the authority of Scripture, and the Commission has since produced nine agreed statements. Phase One of ARCIC ended in 1981 with the publication of a final report, "Elucidations on Authority in the Church". Phase Two lasted between 1983 and 2004, and a third phase is expected. The most recent agreed statement dealt with Marian theology, and was published in 2004. In 2000, following a successful meeting of Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops in Mississauga in Canada, a new commission, the International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission, was established to promote practical co-operation between Anglicans and Roman Catholics, and the reception of the fruits of the theological dialogue.

Despite the agreement reached by the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) on the doctrine of the ministry in their "Elucidation" of 1979, [ [ ARCIC "Elucidation" of 1979] ] this judgement was reaffirmed by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, when he asserted "Apostolicae Curae" as an example of the infallible teaching office of the Catholic Church. [ [ Commentary on] Ad Tuendam Fidem, 11g] Some attempts at dialogue began in 1915, when Pope Benedict XV approved a British Legation to the Vatican, led by an Anglican with a Roman Catholic deputy. However, discussion of potential reunion in the 'Malines Conversations' eventually collapsed in 1925. Continued efforts resulted in the spread of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in both churches (and others), and the visit of George Bell, Bishop of Chichester, to Cardinal Montini of Milan, later Pope Paul VI. [ [ Catholics and Anglicans] ]

Real rapprochement was not achieved until the warming of Catholic attitudes to ecumenism under the leadership of Pope John XXIII, whose foundation of the "Secretariat for the Promotion of Christian Unity" encouraged Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher to make a historic, though not entirely official, visit to the Vatican in 1960. Subsequently the Bishop of Ripon, John Moorman, led a delegation of Anglican observers to the Second Vatican Council. In 1966, Archbishop Michael Ramsey made an official visit to Pope Paul VI, and in the following year, the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission was established. Its first project focused on the authority of Scripture, and the Commission has since produced nine agreed statements. Phase One of ARCIC ended in 1981 with the publication of a final report, "Elucidations on Authority in the Church". Phase Two has been ongoing since 1983. The most recent agreed statement dealt with Marian theology, and was published in 2004.

Building on Pope Paul VI's description of the Anglican Church as "our beloved Sister Church", there has been considerable productivity in these discussions, but progress is not without difficulty. Dialogue is strained by the developments in some provinces of the Communion primarily concerning the ordination of women, and the ordination of those in public same-sex sexual relationships as priests and, in one case, a bishop (Gene Robinson). In addition, progress has not been helped by the Second Vatican Council declaring that the Anglican Church is not a church at all but a mere "ecclesial community" saying that "Among those in which some Catholic traditions and institutions continue to exist, the Anglican Communion occupies a special place". [] Indeed, this has already to a limited extent occurred with the creation of the Anglican Use, a group in full Union with Rome that uses a Roman Catholic version of the Book of Common Prayer, [ [ Home ] ] but is not yet an independent body like a Particular Church. [cite web|title=A Personal View of Anglican Uniatism|url=|format=pdf|author=Nichols, A|work=Anglican Use Society website|publisher=Anglican Use Society|accessdate=2007-07-03]

More progress has been made with respect to Anglican churches outside the Communion. Pope John Paul II made Pastoral Provision for Anglican congregations which as a whole wish to become Roman Catholic. There has been only a small number of Anglican Use parishes, all of which are in the United States. These are Roman Catholic parishes which are allowed to retain some features of the Book of Common Prayer in worship. Additionally, one of the Continuing Anglican Churches, the Traditional Anglican Communion, is currently attempting to achieve the recognition of Rome, while retaining an independent structure.

Despite the productivity of these discussions, dialogue is strained by developments in some provinces of the Communion, primarily concerning the ordination of women and the ordination of those in public same-sex sexual relationships including, in one case, a bishop (Gene Robinson). Pope John Paul II made a Pastoral Provision for a small number of parishes led by former Episcopal clergy who have converted to the Roman Catholic Church. There are approximately a half-dozen of these Anglican Use parishes, so called because they have been permitted the temporary use of a Roman Catholic adaptation of the Book of Common Prayer, although not the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer itself. In addition, there is one Continuing Anglican church jurisdiction, the Traditional Anglican Communion, currently seeking to achieve full communion with the Holy See while retaining its own faith and practices.

According to Roman Catholic Canon Law, Roman Catholics should not receive the Anglican Eucharist [canon 844 §2] and permits Roman Catholic priests to administer to an Anglican the sacraments of Eucharist, Penance and Anointing of the Sick, only in danger of death or some other grave and pressing need, and provided the Anglican cannot approach an Anglican priest, spontaneously asks for the sacrament, demonstrates the faith of the Roman Catholic Church in respect of the sacrament and is properly disposed. [canon 844 §4]

Lutheran and Old Catholic Churches

Another fruitful realm of dialogue has been with various Lutheran churches. In 1994, the Porvoo Communion was formed, bringing the Anglican churches of England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland and the Episcopal churches of Portugal and Spain into full communion with the Lutheran churches of Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, and Lithuania. In 2001, the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada achieved full communion [ [ Anglican Church of Canada news release] ] , as did the Episcopal Church in the United States and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America under the joint document known as the Call to Common Mission.< [ [ Episcopal Life Archives ] ] .

In addition, full communion agreements have been reached between various ecclesiastical provinces and smaller denominations such as the Old Catholic Church after the Bonn Agreement of 1931.

Other Protestant denominations

Consultations with Protestant churches other than Lutherans have also been fruitful. However, movements toward full communion between the Anglican Church of Canada and the United Church of Canada, as well as between the Church of England and the Methodist Church of Great Britain were both derailed because of the issue of episcopacy, specifically, apostolic succession. The same problem applies to the Churches Uniting in Christ initiative in the United States. This, as well as Anglican stands on certain social issues such as the ordination of priests and bishops in public same-sex relationships and the practice of blessing gay unions, has likewise hindered dialogue between Anglicans and conservative evangelical Protestant denominations. This has not prevented a range of reports by bilateral commissions producing descriptions of converging theology and practice however, such as Conversations around the World (2005), a report of conversations between the representatives of the Anglican Communion and the Baptist World Alliance.In the Indian subcontinent most Anglican churches have entered into formal union with Protestant denominations while remaining part of the Anglican Communion. These agreements, which date from the 1940s and 1950s, led to the creation of the Church of North India, the Church of South India, the Church of Pakistan and the Church of Bangladesh. The united churches maintain an episcopal and synodical structure and consecrate bishops in apostolic succession. As a percentage of the total population in the region, these united churches are not significant, but aside from Bangladesh, they are numerically very substantial.

Those which did not join with the union agreements in South Asia retained the name Anglican Church of India or adopted a similar one using the word "Anglican." The total membership of these churches has been estimated at 800,000. Most have recently entered into communion with churches of the Continuing Anglican Movement and have North American parishes.

Outside of Asia, direct consultations with Protestant churches other than Lutherans have, for the most part, been less fruitful. Movements toward full communion between the Anglican Church of Canada and the United Church of Canada were derailed because of the issue of episcopacy and the mutual recognition of ordained ministry (specifically, apostolic succession). The same issue blocked the first attempt at a covenant between the Church of England and the Methodist Church of Great Britain, but such a covenant was eventually signed in 2003. [ [ An Anglican-Methodist Covenant ] ] This issue also has held back the Churches Uniting in Christ initiative in the United States.

The issue of apostolic succession, as well as the willingness of some North American dioceses to offer partnership blessings and priestly ordination to people in same-sex sexual relationships, have hindered dialogue between Anglicans and evangelical Protestant denominations.

Orthodox Churches

Dialogue has also been fruitful with the Orthodox Churches. The current International Commission of the Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue was established in 1999, building on the work of earlier commissions, which had published their work in the Dublin Statement, and the Anglican Oriental Orthodox International Commission was established in 2001.

Dialogue has also been less fruitful with churches of the Orthodox Communion. The International Commission of the Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue was only established in 1999, and the Anglican Oriental Orthodox International Commission was established three years later. So far, most common ground has been established only concerning matters of the historic creeds.In a move parallel to the parishes of the pastoral provision in the Roman Catholic Church a small number of United States Anglicans have been received into certain jurisdictions of the Orthodox Church while retaining the use of a revision of the Prayer Book liturgy authorised for use in the Orthodox Church by Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow in the early twentieth century.

Regarding mutual recognition of ministry, the Eastern Orthodox Churches are reluctant to even consider the question of the validity of holy orders in isolation from the rest of the Christian faith, so in practice they treat Anglican ordinations as invalid. Thus the favourable judgement expressed by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople in 1922 and communicated by him to other Eastern Patriarchs (some of whom, including the Russian Patriarch, signed a contrary declaration in 1948) is in practice without effect. The Eastern Orthodox Church classifies Anglican clergymen who join it as laypeople, and, if they are to function as clergy, administers ordination to them. [ [ The Orthodox Web Site for information about the faith, life and worship of the Orthodox Church ] ]

Anglican Churches outside the Communion

There are a number of jurisdictions which identify themselves as "Anglican" but are not in communion with Canterbury. They therefore are outside the Anglican Communion. Several, such as the Free Church of England and the Reformed Episcopal Church in the United States left the Anglican Communion in the 1800s in reaction to the inroads of the Catholic Revival and the controversy over ritualism which it produced in the church.

Later, during the 1960s and 1970s, disagreements with certain provincial bodies — chiefly in North America and in the United Kingdom — over such issues as prayer book revision, the remarriage of divorced persons, the ordination of women, and the acceptance by a few of the bishops of homosexual relationships led to another and quite different schism. These Anglican churches are usually termed "Continuing Anglican churches" because of their determination to preserve (or "continue") the episcopate in Apostolic Succession, as well as the faith, worship and teaching of traditional Anglicanism and historical Christianity which they believe the Anglican Communion to have deviated from. The older Reformed Episcopal churches maintained the lineage of bishops without accepting the idea that sacraments are valid only if administered by clergy in such a lineage.

There are also independent jurisdictions unrelated to the preceding schisms. The Church of England in South Africa is conservative, long-established, and has a substantial membership. It is separate from the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, which is part of the Anglican Communion. Other churches, however, have adopted the Anglican name, the Book of Common Prayer, Anglican vestments, and — in some cases — the Thirty Nine Articles of Religion, but have no historic connection to the Anglican Communion. Unlike the socially conservative Continuing Anglican churches and the Church of England in South Africa, some of these tiny jurisdictions are openly oriented towards the Gay and Lesbian community and do ordain women clergy.

Given the range of concerns and the grounds for schism, there is as much diversity in the theological and liturgical orientations of the Free Churches, the Continuing Anglican churches, and the independent Anglican bodies as there is among churches of the Anglican Communion. Some are Evangelical, others charismatic and Evangelical, and yet others are Anglo-Catholic. What they have in common is a conviction that mainstream Anglicanism in North America, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere has departed from acceptable principles of belief or practice, or both.

Practical ecumenism: joint worship

Ecumenical joint worshop from an Episcopalian / Anglican perspective in North American takes one of the following forms:

#An Anglican church rents space to another church.
#An Anglican church is part of an ecumenical centre. One type of centre is much like a shopping plazza where the various churches share one physical building but maintain separate spaces and, possibly, separate entrances. The other type of ecumenical centre consists of a common hall or space which is occupied on a schedule by various churches or faiths. For example, the first ecumenical church to be built in Canada in 1968 in Whistler, British Columbia [ [ Whistler Village Church] ] .
#An Anglican church shares a church building and worship space with another church on a fortnightly rotation. One Sunday, the service is Anglican. Next Sunday, the service is of the other church. The congregation can be almost identical on each Sunday so that it is the leaders and style that change. This usually occurs in small and remote communities but there are city examples. For example, St Mark's Anglican Church/Trinity United Church in Vancouver [ [ St Mark's Anglican Church/Trinity United Church] ] .
#An Anglican church is home to a minister or priest of a different church who will lead the occasional service. For example, there is a Lutheran street priest based out of the Anglican cathedral in Vancouver. [ [ A Profile of Brian Heinrich, Street Priestand new addition to Cathedral Staff] ]
#An Anglican and another church hold joint services every Sunday lead by a leader from both churches to a mixed congregation. However the Roman Catholic Church still insists that the Catholic Mass is celebrated separately and there is no eucharistic sharing.For example, the Church of the Holy Apostles in Virginia Beach, Virginia: an Anglican/Roman Catholic Church in the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia. [ [ Church of the Holy Apostles] ]

There is a diversity of models for joint worship.



* Borkowski, James D. "Middle East Ecumenism from an Anglican Perspective". Cloverdale Books (2007) ISBN 978-1-929569-23-6 []

External links

* [ Anglican Communion] - The official site of the Anglican Communion.
* [ What it means to be an Anglican: Official Church of England site]
* [ Anglicans Online] - An unofficial site of the Anglican Communion. One of the biggest resources of Anglicanism in the world.

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