RESPONSE TO THE FIRSTANGLICAN/ROMAN CATHOLIC
CARDINAL CASSIDY'S LETTER
As you are well aware, in 1982 the members of ARCIC I presented to the authorities that had given them their mandate a Final Report on the three doctrinal questions that had been the subject of their discussions, namely the Eucharist, the Ordained Ministry and Authority in the Church.
The Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion were asked to examine this Report and to reply officially to the conclusions reached by the ARCIC, giving in particular a judgement on how precisely those conclusions reflected the faith respectively of the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.
The Lambeth Conference of 1988 considered the Final Report and came to the conclusion that the Report's statements on Eucharistic Doctrine, Ministry and Ordination and their Elucidations were "consonant in substance with the faith of Anglicans". The Conference also found the statement on Authority in the Church to be a "firm basis for the direction and agenda of the continuing dialogue on this question".
Over the past years there has been wide consultation within the Catholic Church on this document and on the official response to be given in respect of its conclusions. The preparation of this response was finally entrusted by Pope John Paul II to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which had issued the first official Catholic reaction to the Report in 1982, and the Congregation has had a determining role in drawing up the formal reply which I am now forwarding to you. You will note that the main points of the Observations of 1982 are incorporated in this text. At the same time, I wish to state that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has carried out the task entrusted to it in consultation with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, which for its part has contributed notably to the final text, which has now been approved by His Holiness Pope John Paul II. This collaboration is to be seen against the background of the Decree Pastor Bonus which states that, since the questions dealt with by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity by their very nature often touch on matters of faith, the Council has to proceed in strict relationship with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, especially when it comes to drafting documents or statements for publication (Pastor Bonus, Art. 137, § 1).
I wish to take this opportunity of paying tribute to the hard work and dedication of the members of ARCIC I. The long period of time necessary for this response on the part of the Catholic Church witnesses to the serious manner in which this task was undertaken and indicates just how arduous is the quest for unity in faith. Those not involved in ecumenical dialogue often underestimate the complexity and the difficulty of such work.
With the expression of my esteem and very best wishes, I remain,
Fraternally yours in Christ,