Unity Faith and Order - Commissions IASCER
The Inter Anglican Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations
IASCER: Resolutions arising from the 2006 meeting
The Life of the Anglican Communion
- notes that ecumenical partners derive their understanding of Anglican identity not only from formal statements and official dialogues, but from observing all aspects of Anglican practice including the living out of our common life, and
- therefore draws attention to the implication for ecumenical relations of the way we conduct ourselves in debating disputed questions within the Anglican Communion.
WCC Consensus Model
- notes with interest the World Council of Churches’ use of a consensus model of discernment in its Ninth Assembly meeting in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in February 2006
- commits itself to further investigation as to the appropriateness of this tool for spiritual discernment in ecumenical dialogue, and in IASCER’s own work, and
- commends a similar process of investigation to the Lambeth Design Group.
World Council of Churches Joint Assembly
- welcomes the resolve of the World Council to work more closely with the Christian World Communions, and, in particular, the proposal to set up a Joint Working Party between the World Council and the Christian World Communions
- welcomes the proposal to find enlarged space for the Christian World Communions at future Assemblies of the World Council of Churches
- nevertheless expresses profound caution with respect to the proposal of the General Secretary of the World Council for a Joint Assembly
- trusts that representatives of the Anglican Communion will be able to participate fully in any discussions or Working Party that is established as a result of the initiatives adopted at the 9th Assembly of the World Council in this respect.
WCC Ecclesiological Texts
- notes the referral by the WCC to member churches of two ecclesiological texts following the 9th Assembly at Porto Alegre in 2006. One is Faith and Order Paper 198 ‘The Nature and Mission of the Church’; the other, the Assembly’s own statement ‘Called to be the One Church’. Churches are asked to reflect on both texts and their associated questions
- encourages Provinces of the Anglican Communion to respond to the WCC not later than January 2010, bearing in mind the different purposes of the two texts, and should be grateful if such responses are copied to the Anglican Communion Office.
‘Called to be the One Church’ stands in the line of previous Assembly statements on unity (New Delhi, Uppsala, Nairobi, Vancouver, Canberra) and encourages the churches to offer their commitment to the goal of full visible unity. As part of the Anglican response, IASCER particularly hopes that this statement may be considered by parish and local ecumenical groups.
‘The Nature and Mission of the Church’ is part of a longer-term project designed ultimately “to give expression to what the churches can now say together about the nature and mission of the Church and, within that agreement, to explore the extent to which the remaining church-dividing issues may be overcome”. IASCER acknowledges both the ultimate goal and the interim nature of the present text. It therefore commends the document to the member churches of the Communion, encouraging them to engage with the issues raised in the text, drawing on their best theological, academic, ecumenical and pastoral resources as they do so.
Anglican – Eastern Orthodox Dialogue
- warmly welcomes the substantial Agreed Statement of the International Commission for Anglican - Orthodox Theological Dialogue (ICAOTD)
- commends the trinitarian and christological grounding of ecclesiology as the appropriate context for the consideration of issues of theological anthropology, episcopacy, primacy, priesthood and the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate
- believes the Agreed Statement to be of particular importance for consideration by the Anglican - Oriental Orthodox dialogue and by the next phase of Anglican - Roman Catholic dialogue
- believes also that the Agreed Statement provides a substantial resource for all addressing the questions of Anglican ecclesiology arising from the current Windsor process and commends it to them
- gives thanks for the major contribution of Bishop Henry Hill (1921-2006) to this Dialogue, and to Anglican - Orthodox and Anglican - Oriental Orthodox relations, and commends him to God.
Anglican – Lutheran Dialogue
- welcomes the establishment of the Anglican Lutheran International Commission (ALIC) and commends the priorities for work established at its initial meeting (January 2006, Tanzania)
- commends for future consideration proposals for a meeting of senior leaders of the Anglican Communion and of the Lutheran World Federation, or of the Anglican Consultative Council with the Council of the LWF, at an appropriate point in the development of the work of ALIC and of the relationship between the communions
- looks forward to the appointment of a new Anglican co-Chair for AAALC, and encourages the further development of Anglican – Lutheran relationships in Africa toward regional bilateral agreements of communion, particularly in southern Africa and in Tanzania
- welcomes the local agreements developed by the Anglican and Lutheran churches in Australia and Japan, and looks forward to seeing these as they develop
- encourages ALIC to monitor and promote any emerging consensus on the diaconate and diakonia, noting especially the work of the Porvoo churches, the Joint Anglican Lutheran Commission in Canada, and the Lutheran Episcopal Co-ordinating Committee in the USA
- welcomes the initiative of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land with the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem to develop an agreement of full communion, and requests that this work be shared with the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, and with IASCER as it develops
- thanks Dr. Bill Crockett for his work in co-ordinating and producing ‘An Anglican Response by IASCER’ to ‘The Episcopal Ministry within the Apostolicity of the Church’ produced for the Lutheran World Federation, and considers it a clear and helpful presentation of Anglican views of the episcopal ministry for use in ecumenical dialogues.
Episcopal Ministry within the Apostolicity of the Church
- commends the Anglican response to the Lutheran Statement 2002 ‘The Episcopal Ministry within the Apostolicity of the Church’ as a resource for all addressing issues of Anglican ecclesiology as part of the Windsor process.
Anglican – Roman Catholic Dialogue
- commends as examples of fruitful co-operation between our two communions, the following recent developments:
- the visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury to Pope Benedict XVI, and their Common Declaration in which they renewed Anglican and Roman Catholic commitment to pursue the path towards full visible communion and acknowledged the call to closer co-operation in many areas of the Church’s mission and service
- the first joint meeting in Leeds, England, in November 2006, between the Roman Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and the House of Bishops of the Church of England, together with a episcopal representative of the Church in Wales, in which the bishops met in a spirit of warm fellowship, recognizing a shared vision and responsibility for the mission of the Church in today’s society
- the established pattern of annual meetings in Canada between Anglican, Roman Catholic and Eastern Rite Catholic bishops, in which the bishops have recently studied together the Agreed Statement, Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ, and discussed pastoral responses to gay and lesbian people and reaffirmed the churches’ traditional teaching on marriage
- the Pastoral Letter on Marriage and Family Life from the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches of Papua New Guinea, as a fruit of the 2003 covenant between these two churches
- welcomes the news of the establishment of a Preparatory Commission for the Third Phase of ARCIC, and looks forward to following progress in the theological dialogue.
- gratefully receives the work of IARCCUM embodied in the Agreed Statement “Growing Together in Unity and Mission”, together with the Anglican Commentary prepared by Bishop Paul Richardson
- believes that this statement is of profound importance in offering a summary of the achievements of the theological dialogue undertaken by ARCIC and in encouraging practical co-operation in Anglican – Roman Catholic relations
- therefore requests the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Joint Standing Committee to refer the document to the bishops and people of the Provinces of the Anglican Communion for study and response, particularly within the context of joint meetings of Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops
- further requests the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lambeth Conference Design Group to consider ways in which the statement may be received by the Lambeth Conference 2008 and used by them as an educative resource in the course of the Conference
- requests the Director of Ecumenical Affairs to consider further the means by which the Statement may be received in the life of the Communion, and appropriate responses solicited from the Provinces.
- is grateful for the work in progress of the Inter-Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission (IATDC) as set out in ‘The Anglican Way: The Significance of the Episcopal Office for the Communion of the Church’
- is concerned to note the omission of significant theological, ecclesiological and sacramental foundations of episcopacy such as Eucharistic presidency, historic succession and the sanctifying ministry of a bishop. These dimensions have been highlighted in the emerging consensus on episcopal ministry in major ecumenical dialogues. This consensus enriches and often reflects the Anglican understanding of episcopacy
- intends, before September 2007, to offer a contribution to the revision of the paper to enable the IATDC to take these dimensions into account. We hope that this contribution will assist the Commission.
Eucharistic Food and Drink
- receives with gratitude the IALC report ‘Eucharistic Food and Drink’ and acknowledges the substantial research that has gone into the report
- endorses the first recommendation of the report, “that the normative principle and practice of the Anglican Communion has always been and continues to be the use of the elements of bread and wine at the Eucharist”, and affirms this to be consistent with our ecumenical agreements. Accordingly, IASCER reminds all provinces of the Anglican Communion of the third of the articles of the Lambeth Quadrilateral
- views with concern the evidence indicating that elements other than bread and wine are used in some provinces, and draws attention to its earlier resolution of 2001. We note that the content of recommendations 2 and 3 of the IALC Report are best understood as descriptive rather than prescriptive. IASCER also notes that some churches with whom we have ecumenical agreements experience similar anomalies in the same circumstances, yet they also affirm the normative use of the elements of bread and wine for the Eucharist.
The Lambeth Quadrilateral, as adopted by the Lambeth Conference 1888
- The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as “containing all things necessary to salvation”, and as being the rule and ultimate standard of faith.
- The Apostles’ Creed, as the baptismal symbol; and the Nicene Creed, as the sufficient statement of the Christian faith.
- The two sacraments ordained by Christ himself – Baptism and the Supper of the Lord – ministered with the unfailing use of Christ’s words of institution, and of the elements ordained by him;
- The historic episcopate, locally adapted in the methods of its administration to the varying needs of the nations and peoples called of God into the unity of his Church.
IASCER Resolution on Eucharistic Food, 2001
IASCER noted the resolution of the International Anglican Liturgical Consultation that a recommendation be sent to the Standing Committee of the ACC ‘that a survey be conducted to determine practice in relation to the elements of Holy Communion throughout the Communion, with particular reference to the reasons for local practice where it is different and also a proposal that the ACC form a small working group, including members of the IALC, to study the data and draft a report with suggested guidelines for further consideration by IALC and to ACC Standing Committee.’ The Commission, having studied the paper by Paul Gibson which introduced the IALC debate and the debate itself as summarised in the IALC minutes and recognising the particular difficulties facing churches in certain regions, wishes to draw the attention of the Primates and the Standing Committee of ACC to the following points, which reflect the Church’s constant tradition, based on the biblical record:
- The constitutive authority for the Eucharist lies in the action of Jesus at the Last Supper in taking, blessing, breaking and giving bread and wine and commanding his disciples to do this in remembrance of him. As Paul writes, “As often as we eat this bread and drink this cup we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (I Corinthians 11:26).
- It has been constant Anglican practice, in accordance with the continuous tradition of the Church, to do this with the elements of bread and wine in obedience to the Lord’s command.
- Although the other symbolic occasions on which Jesus shared meals with his disciples and with many whom the society of his day regarded as outcasts speak powerfully to what it means to share his life and break bread in obedience to his command, it is the dominical command to “do this” at the Last Supper which is fundamental.
- To vary in any way official Anglican practice in this respect would be to put hard won ecumenical agreements on the Eucharist seriously in jeopardy, and we have no authority to do this.
- In contexts where there are severe difficulties in the obtaining of wine for the Eucharist, Anglicans should seek to remedy this in conjunction with Roman Catholics and other ecumenical partners. Where the issue is one of expense this should be a primary call on the support of wealthier churches in the Communion. Assistance with practical difficulties can be given by the ACO.
- It should be noted that Christians work within a given symbolic framework inherited from God’s revelation in the Old Testament and fulfilled in the New and this should be regarded as normative.
- Whilst it may often be possible, as Gregory the Great commanded Augustine, to ‘baptise’ many local customs and use them in Christian worship, the matter of the sacrament should be inviolable, and we should recognise that Christians have often had to be ‘counter-cultural’ for the sake of the Gospel.
Where practices of using other sacramental elements are being pressed, or are even occasionally used, provinces should be reminded of the fundamental obligation to use the elements used by our Lord at the Last Supper, and adhere to that rather than adopting a cultural relativism.