In this week’s Izindaba we read the report on the ARCIC Conference which Bishop Nkosinathi attended in Rio de Janeiro.
The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, the official body appointed by the two Communions to engage in theological dialogue, has held the third meeting of its new phase (ARCIC III), at the Mosteiro de Sao Bento, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, (29 April – 7 May 2013). This is the first time in its forty year history that ARCIC has met in Latin America, and, indeed, in the southern hemisphere.
Members of the Commission are grateful to Dom Filipe da Silva OSB, the Abbot, to his community for their gracious hospitality, and to the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro. The Commission participated in daily Vespers and in the Sunday Eucharist at the monastery church, and were held in prayer throughout by the monastic community.
A wide range of papers was prepared for the meeting and discussed, taking the Commission further towards its goal of producing an agreed statement. The mandate for this third phase of ARCIC is to explore: the Church as Communion, local and universal, and how in communion the local and universal Church come to discern right ethical teaching. In exploring this mandate, the members of the Commission engaged in theological analysis and shared reflection on the nature of the Church and those structures which contribute to discernment and decision-making. A day was spent considering some case studies of ethical issues which members had prepared, and analysing the ways in which the two Communions have come to their present teaching on these matters.
Over the forty years of its work, ARCIC has produced a number of Agreed Statements. The work of ARCIC I received official responses from the two Communions. The Commission continued its task of preparing the documents of ARCIC II for presentation to the respective Communions to assist with their reception. Members reviewed responses already given to each of the five agreed statements and will prepare introductions for them that place each of these documents within the current ecumenical situation.
The Commission welcomed at a meal leaders of the local Anglican and Roman Catholic churches, including Anglican Bishop Filadelfo Oliveira and Roman Catholic Bishop Francisco Biasin, and members of the local Anglican Roman Catholic Dialogue of Brazil. ARCIC is keen to deepen its relationship with such local and regional ARCs and rejoices both Communions are exploring concrete ways of sharing documents and discussion about ARCIC’s work.
Members of the Commission spent most of a day in the City of God, one of the many favelas (neighbourhoods housing large numbers of the poor and displaced) that surround Rio de Janeiro. They were warmly welcomed by the Roman Catholic parish and their priest Fr Marcio Jose’. Fr Nicholas Wheeler, the Anglican parish priest, arranged for the Commission to visit three projects in the community (a day centre for seniors, a community development centre, and a mural project that portrays the community’s history and provides a vision of the City of God from Revelation), and to learn from the local police how officers engage positively with the community. The evening concluded with ecumenical vespers. As one member of the Commission wrote in reflection, ‘In offering thanks, one of our bishops said he was trying to think of a word to sum up our visit, and could only think of ‘hope’. Hope sprang from real ecumenical activity (unashamedly from a Christian base but working to support any community good), and the sheer hard work and organising by local people.’
The Commission will prepare further papers, expand the case studies, and continue its work in preparation for its next meeting 12-20 May 2014.
(Statement issued by Administrative Assistant, Anglican Communion Office).