A STATEMENT BY THE CO-CHAIRMEN
ARCIC'S CLARIFICATIONS OF CERTAIN ASPECTS
We present here ARCIC'S Clarifications of Certain Aspects of the Agreed
Statements on Eucharist and Ministry and a letter we have received in reply from
In September 1981, at the final meeting of the first ARCIC in
By faithfulness to this method, through long, patient and charitable dialogue, in a context of common prayer, ARCIC claimed that it had "reached substantial agreement on the doctrine of the eucharist" (Eucharistic Doctrine, 12); and similarly, on the ordained ministry, a consensus where "doctrine admits no divergence" (Ministry and Ordination, 17). For ARCIC, substantial agreement meant that "differences of theology and practice may well co-exist with a real consensus on the essentials of... faith" (Eucharistic Doctrine: Elucidation).
ARCIC never claimed that its agreement on authority had quite the same quality. What was claimed here was highly significant but more limited: "a high degree of agreement ‘on authority in the Church and in particular, on the basic principles of primacy'" (Preface to the Final Report). After careful study of the particular issues of papal primacy and infallibility ARCIC spoke of a "convergence" which, taken with its earlier agreements, appeared "to call for the establishing of a new relationship between our Churches" (Final Report, Conclusion). Both Churches have asked the Commission to continue to work on vital issues connected with authority.
From the beginning the Commission recognized that its agreements could not be ratified by the official authorities "until such time as our respective Churches can evaluate its conclusions" (Eucharistic Doctrine, Co-Chairmen's Preface). The ARCIC agreements do not therefore represent the end of a process. Rather, dialogue involves not only a readiness to put questions but also to be questioned. The formal presentation of the Agreements for evaluation, in fact, initiated a further vital stage in the process of seeking reconciliation, during which the appropriate authorities in both Communions are called upon to test the adequacy of the Commission's Agreements in the light of their respective faith and practice.
For the Anglican Communion, the Lambeth Conference of 1988 marked a decisive stage in this process. Prior to this all the Provinces of the Anglican Communion has been asked by the Anglican Consultative Council whether the agreements on the Eucharist and on Ministry and Ordination were "consonant in substance with the faith of Anglicans". In asking this question of the Provinces, the Council thus set in motion an official procedure to enable the bishops of the Lambeth Conference "to discern and pronounce a consensus" (ACC, Newcastle, 1981). The responses of the Provinces were officially collated, summarized and published in preparation for the Conference. After noting that the Provinces had given "a clear ‘yes'" to these agreements, the Lambeth Conference went on to recognize "the Agreed Statements of ARCIC I on Eucharistic Doctrine, Ministry and Ordination, and their Elucidations as consonant in substance with the faith of Anglicans" (Resolution 8 and Explanatory Note).
After wide consultation and serious reflection, the Catholic Church produced its Response to the Final Report in 1991. It spoke very positively of ARCIC's work as "a significant milestone not only in relations between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion but in the ecumenical movement as a whole", acknowledging "points of convergence and even of agreement which many would not have thought possible before the Commission began its work". At the same time, concerning the work on Eucharist and Ministry and Ordination for which "substantial agreement" had been claimed, it raised specific issues which "would need greater clarification from the Catholic point of view".
The response of ARCIC to this request is contained in Clarifications of Certain
Aspects of the Agreed Statements on Eucharist and Ministry. These Clarifications
must, of course, be read in the context of the earlier Agreements or the issues
they deal with will appear to be out of proportion. The Clarifications were
submitted to the same (Roman Catholic) authorities from whom the request had
come. The text is reproduced here, along with the assessment communicated in a
It is our hope that this positive step on the road of reception will assist both Communions to recognize that what ARCIC has stated and now clarified does indeed represent agreement about our respective faith and practice. Though much still remains to be discussed, the agreements reached on the important subjects of Eucharistic Doctrine, Ministry and Ordination constitute an important stage in our growth towards fuller communion. We hope and pray that this now more definitive agreement will spur us on to overcoming other difficulties in the way of the full visible unity which our two communions have committed themselves to seek.
Rt. Rev. Mark SANTER
CLARIFICATIONS OF CERTAIN ASPECTS
In this paper we seek to answer the queries raised in the 1991 Response of the Holy See to the Final Report of ARCIC (1982) concerning the Eucharist and the Ordained Ministry. We are encouraged by what is said in the Response that this may "serve as an impetus to further study".
The Commission was inspired by two official statements of the Roman Catholic Church. The first came from the address by Pope John XXIII at the opening of the Second Vatican Council, when he said: "The substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another". The second statement is para. 17 of Unitatis Redintegratio which, in speaking of East and West, includes the words, "... sometimes one tradition has come nearer than the other to an apt appreciation of certain aspects of a revealed mystery, or has experienced them in a clearer manner. As a result, these various theological formulations are often to be considered as complementary rather than conflicting". This concept has been endorsed by The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992), which affirms that when the Church "puts down her roots in a variety of cultural, social and human terrains, she takes on different external expressions and appearances in each part of the world. The rich variety of ecclesiastical disciplines, liturgical rites and theological and spiritual heritage proper to the local churches, in harmony among themselves, shows with greater clarity the catholicity of the undivided Church". In our study of Eucharist and Ministry we discovered beneath a diversity of expressions and practice a profound underlying harmony. This harmony is not broken when an element of the truth is more strongly affirmed in one tradition than in another, in which nevertheless it is not denied. Such is especially the case with Eucharistic adoration, as we shall later show.
essential link of the eucharistic Memorial with the once-for-all sacrifice of
b. "the propitiatory nature of the eucharistic sacrifice, which can be applied also to the deceased". The Response stressed the fact that "for Catholics the whole Church must include the dead". It appears to want reassurance that the Anglican Communion shares the same view;
c. certitude that Christ is present sacramentally and substantially when "under the species of bread and wine these earthly realities are changed into the reality of his Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity";
d. the adoration of Christ in the reserved sacrament.
The Response of the Holy See states that the Catholic Church rejoices because the members of the Commission were able to affirm together "that the eucharist is a sacrifice in the sacramental sense, provided that it is clear that this is not a repetition of the historical sacrifice". In the mind of the Commission the making present, effective and accessible of the unique historic sacrifice of Christ does not entail a repetition of it. In the light of this the Commission affirms that the belief that the eucharist is truly a sacrifice, but in a sacramental way, is part of the eucharistic faith of both our Communions. As has been stated in the Elucidation on Eucharistic Doctrine 5; "The Commission believes that the traditional understanding of sacramental reality, in which the once-for-all event of salvation becomes effective in the present through the action of the Holy Spirit, is well expressed by the word anamnesis. We accept this use of the word which seems to do full justice to the semitic background. Furthermore it enables us to affirm a strong conviction of sacramental realism and to reject mere symbolism".
When we speak of the death of Christ on
The Holy See's Response gladly recognises our agreement with regard to the real presence of Christ: "Before the eucharistic prayer, to the question ‘What is that?', the believer answers: ‘It is bread'. After the eucharistic prayer to the same question he answers: ‘It is truly the body of Christ, the Bread of Life". it also acknowledges that, "The affirmations that the Eucharist is ‘the Lord's real gift of himself to his Church' (Eucharistic Doctrine, 8), and that bread and wine ‘become' the body and blood of Christ (Eucharistic Doctrine, Elucidation, 6) can certainly be interpreted in conformity with catholic faith". It only asks for some clarification to remove any ambiguity regarding the mode of the real presence. The Response speaks of the earthly realities of bread and wine being changed into "the reality of his Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity". In its preparatory work the Commission examined with care the definition of the Council of Trent (DS 1642, 1652), repeated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992) (n. 1376). Though the Council of Trent states that the Soul and Divinity of Christ are present with his body and blood in the eucharist, it does not speak of the conversion of the earthly realities of bread and wine into the Soul and Divinity of Christ (DS 1651). The presence of the Soul is by natural concomitantia and the Divinity by virtue of the hypostatic union. The Response speaks of a ‘substantial' presence of Christ, maintaining that this is the result of a substantial change in the elements. By its footnote on transubstantiation the Commission made clear that it was in no way dismissing the belief that "God, acting in the eucharist, effects a change in the inner reality of the elements"... and that a mysterious and radical change takes place. Paul VI in Mysterium Fidei (AAS 57, 1965) did not deny, the legitimacy of fresh ways of expressing this change even by using new words, provided that they kept and reflected what transubstantiation was intended to express. This has been our method of approach. In several places the Final Report indicates its belief in the presence of the living Christ truly and really in the elements. Even if the word "transubstantiation" only occurs in a footnote, the Final Report wished to express what the Council of Trent, as evident from its discussions, clearly intended by the use of the term.
Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament is practised in both our churches for
communion of the sick, the dying and the absent. The fear expressed in the
Response that a real consensus between Anglicans and Roman Catholics is lacking
concerning the adoration of Christ's sacramental presence requires careful
analysis. Differences in practice do not necessarily imply differences in
doctrine, as can be seen in the case of East and West. The difficulty is not
with reservation of the sacrament but with the devotions associated with it
which have grown up in the
The 1662 Book of Common Prayer authoritatively expresses the historic Anglican teaching that the consecrated elements are to be treated with reverence. After communion the rubric instructs the minister to "return to the Lord's Table, and reverently place upon it what remaineth of the consecrated Elements, covering the same with a fair linen cloth". A further rubric states that "the Priest... shall, immediately after the Blessing, reverently eat and drink the same". Such reverence remains the Anglican attitude, as can be seen from the collect provided for the Thanksgiving for the Institution of Holy Communion:
MINISTRY AND ORDINATION
Concerning the Ordained Ministry the Response asks ARCIC to make clearer the following affirmations:
The Response seeks the amplification and completion of that part of the Final Report which we have just clarified by affirming that Christ himself instituted the sacrament of Orders. Concerning ordained ministers the Final Report states, "Not only is their vocation from Christ but their qualification for exercising such a ministry is the gift of the Spirit" (Ministry and Ordination, 14), received in and through the Church. In this way they carry on the commission given to the apostles by Jesus in person. After the resurrection the Holy Spirit conferred upon the apostolic group what was necessary for the accomplishment of their commission. They in turn were led by the Lord to choose collaborators and successors who, through the laying on of hands, were endowed with the same gift of God for ministry in the Church.
Thus the sacramental ministry is something positively intended by God and derives from the will and institution of Jesus Christ. This does not necessarily imply a direct and explicit action by Jesus in the course of his earthly life. A distinction needs to be drawn between what Jesus is recorded as saying and doing, and his implicit intentions which may not have received explicit formulation till after the Resurrection, either in words of the risen Lord himself or through his Holy Spirit instructing the primitive community.
"In this sacramental act, the gift of God is bestowed upon the ministers, with the promise of divine grace for their work and for their sanctification; the ministry of Christ is presented to them as a model for their own; and the Spirit seals those whom he has chosen and consecrated. Just as Christ has united the Church inseparably with himself, and as God calls all the faithful to lifelong discipleship, so the gifts and calling of God to the ministers are irrevocable. For this reason, ordination is unrepeatable in both our churches" (Ministry and Ordination, 15).
"The communion of the churches in mission, faith, and holiness, through time and space, is thus symbolized and maintained in the bishop" (Ministry and Ordination, 16).
The prime function of the episcopal ministry is to safeguard the continuity of the local churches with the apostolic Church in its faith, teaching and mission. Thus each episcopal ordination is part of a successive line which links the bishops of today with the apostolic ministry. We believe that this is precisely what Lumen Gentium wanted to express:
"Among those various ministries which, as tradition witnesses, were exercised in the Church from the earliest times, the chief place belongs to the office (munus) of those who, appointed to the episcopate in a sequence running back to the beginning, are the ones who pass on the apostolic seed. Thus, as Saint Irenaeus testifies, through those who were appointed bishops by the apostles, and through their successors down to our own time, the apostolic tradition is manifested and preserved throughout the world" (Lumen Gentium, 20)4.
[Information Service 87 (1994/IV) 237-242]
1. This quotation is from Pope John XXIII's Italian text. However, the
official Latin text in translation reads, "For the deposit of faith, or the
truths which are contained in our venerable doctrine are one thing, and the way
in which they are expressed is another: with, however, the same sense and
2. A nuanced example of propitiatory language in association with the eucharist is found in the writings of seventeenth century Anglican divine,
Jeremy Taylor: "It follows then that the celebration of this sacrifice be, in
its proportion, an instrument of applying the proper sacrifice to all the
purposes for which it was first designed. It is ministerially, and by
application, an instrument propitiatory; it is eucharistical; it is an hommage
and an act of adoration, and it is impetratory, and obtains for us and for the
whole church, all the benefits of the sacrifice, which is now celebrated and
applied; that is, as this rite is the remembrance and ministerial celebration of
Christ's sacrifice, so it is destined to do honour to God... to beg pardon,
blessings, and supply of all our needs" (Discourse XlX, 4).