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Ecumenism: Catholic-Anglican impasse.

Rome -- Ecumenical relations between Catholics and Anglicans are much different from those between Catholics and Armenians. Unlike the latter, the Anglicans appear to be drifting further and further from Catholic, (and also Orthodox) doctrine and practice.

Canterbury's Archbishop George Carey and four Anglican bishops visited Pope John Paul II in Rome from December 3 to 5, 1996. They met, prayed together, exchanged gifts, and issued declarations pledging to continue the ecumenical journey.

"The dialogue between us will continue, no matter what barriers, even ones that seem unsurmountable from a human point of view, are in the way," the Archbishop said at the evening prayer service.

"The path ahead may not be altogether clear to us, but we are here to recommit ourselves to following it," the Pope responded.

The gifts exchanged--for the Pope a silver box for hosts and a pectoral cross for each of the Anglican bishops--symbolize two key areas of doctrinal disagreement, the Eucharist and authority in the Church.

Optimistic reports continue to be published, such as, for example, the statement that Catholics and Anglicans are one step closer to "full, organic, ecclesiastical communion," issued, following the October 1996 ARCIC (Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission) conference in Belgium. "It was a very good meeting" said Canadian theologian Fr. Jean Tillard, "It created a climate of hope." (Catholic Register, Oct 26, '96)

The reality in the field--as distinct from the academics' tower where they study documents only--is far different. "Organic" union is further away than ever.

The November 1992 Church of England decision to "ordain" women has not only "widened the theological gap" between Catholics and Anglicans, but it has also created two opposing churches within the Church of England itself, one that accepts women ministers, one that doesn't. Each has its own bishops.

Bilateral ecumenical discussions between Anglicans and Lutherans which do not require the necessity of bishops and apostolic succession contradict those between Anglicans and Catholics which do.

In addition, the drifting apart of Anglicans and Catholics on family and marital morality, begun with the 1930 Lambeth Conference and its approval of contraceptives, and speeded up with Church of England acceptance of abortion in 1967, has now spread to many other areas of family morality. The 1995 statistics show that only one million Englishmen still attend Anglican Sunday service (in a population of 53 million).
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Publication:Catholic Insight
Date:Jun 1, 1997
Words:387
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