Unity Faith and Order - Dialogues - Anglican Roman Catholic
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The Malta Report
Anglican - Roman Catholic Joiunt Preparatory Commission
- The visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury to Pope Paul VI in March
1966, and their decision to constitute an Anglican-Roman Catholic Joint
Preparatory Commission, marked a new stage in relations between our two
Churches. The three meetings of the Commission, held during 1967 at Gazzada,
Huntercombe, and in Malta, were characterized not only by a spirit of charity
and frankness, but also by a growing sense of urgency, penitence, thankfulness,
and purpose: of urgency, in response to the pressure of God’s will,
apprehended as well in the processes of history and the aspirations and
achievements of men in his world as in the life, worship, witness, and
service of his Church; of penitence, in the conviction of our shared responsibility
for cherishing animosities and prejudices which for four hundred years
have kept us apart, and prevented our attempting to understand or resolve
our differences; of thankfulness for the measure of unity which through
baptism into Christ we already share, and for our recent growth towards
greater unity and mutual understanding; of purpose, in our determination
that the work begun in us by God shall be brought by his grace to fulfilment
in the restoration of his peace to his Church and his world.
- The members of the Commission have completed the preparatory work committed
to them by compiling this report which they submit for their consideration
to His Holiness the Pope and His Grace the Archbishop. The Decree on Ecumenism
recognizes that among the Weste Communions separated from the Roman See
the Churches of the Anglican Communion ‘hold a special place’.
We hope in humility that our work may so help further reconciliation between
Anglicans and Roman Catholics as also to promote the wider unity of a Christians
in their common Lord. We share the hope and prayer expressed in the common
declaration issued by the Pope and the Archbishop after their meeting that
serious dialogue founded on the Gospels and on the ancient common traditions
may lead to that unity in truth for which Christ prayed?.
- We record with great thankfulness our common faith in God our Father,
in our Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit; our common baptism in
the one Church of God; our sharing of the holy Scriptures, of the Apostles?
and Nicene Creeds, the Chalcedonian definition, and the teaching of the
Fathers; our common Christian inheritance for many centuries with its living
traditions of liturgy, theology, spirituality, Church order, and mission.
- Divergences since the sixteenth century have arisen not so much from
the substance of this inheritance as from our separate ways of receiving
it. They derive from our experience of its value and power, from our interpretation
of its meaning and authority, from our formulation of its content, from
our theological elaboration of what it implies, and from our understanding
of the manner in which the Church should keep and teach the Faith. Further
study is needed to distinguish between those differences which are merely
apparent, and those which are real and require serious examination.
- We agree that revealed Truth is given in holy Scripture and formulated
in dogmatic definitions through thought-forms and language which are historically
conditioned. We are encouraged by the growing agreement of theologians
in our two Communions on methods of interpreting this historical transmission
of revelation. We should examine further and together both the way in which
we assent to and apprehend dogmatic truths and the legitimate means of
understanding and interpreting them theologically. Although we agree that
doctrinal comprehensiveness must have its limits, we believe that diversity
has an intrinsic value when used creatively rather than destructively.
- In considering these questions within the context of the present situation
of our two Communions, we propose particularly as matter for dialogue the
following possible convergences of lines of thought: first, between the
traditional Anglican distinction of internal arid external communion and
the distinction drawn by the Vatican Council between full and partial communion;
secondly, between the Anglican distinction of fundamentals from non-fundamentals
and the distinction implied by the Vatican Council’s references to
a ‘hierarchy of truths’ (Decree on Ecumenism, 11), to the difference
between ‘revealed truths’ and ‘the manner in which they
are formulated’ (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern
World, 62), and to diversities in theological tradition being often ‘complementary
rather than conflicting’ (Decree on Ecumenism, 17).
- We recommend that the second stage in our growing together begin with
an official and explicit affirmation of mutual recognition from the highest
authorities of each Communion. It would acknowledge that both Communions
are at one in the faith that the Church is founded upon the revelation
of God the Father, made known to us in the Person and work of Jesus Christ,
who is present through the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures and his Church,
and is the only Mediator between God and Man, the ultimate Authority for
all our doctrine. Each accepts the basic truths set forth in the ecumenical
Creeds and the common tradition of the ancient Church, although neither
Communion is tied to a positive acceptance of all the beliefs and devotional
practices of the other.
- In every region where each Communion has hierarchy, we propose an annual
Joint meeting of either the whole or some considerable representation of
the two hierarchies.
- In the same circumstances we further recommend:
- Constant consultation between committees concerned with pastoral and
evangelistic problems including where appropriate, the appointment of joint
- Agreements for joint use of churches and other ecclesiastical buildings,
both existing and to be built, wherever such use is helpful for one or
other of the two Communions.
- Agreements to share facilities for theological education, with the
hope that all future priests of each Communion should have attended some
course taught by a professor of the other Communion. Arrangement should
also be made where possible for temporal exchange of students.Collaboration
in projects and institutions of theological scholarship to be warmly encouraged.
- Prayer in common has been recommended by the Decree on Ecumenism and
provisions for this common worship are to be found in the Directory (para.
56)*. We urge that they be implemented.
- Our similar liturgical and spiritual traditions make extensive sharing
possible and desirable; for example, in non-eucharistic services, the exploration
of new forms of worship, and retreats in common. Religious orders of similar
inspiration in the two Communions are urged to develop a special relationship.
- Our closeness in the field of sacramental belief leads us further to
recommend that on occasion the exchange of preachers for the homily during
the celebration of the Eucharist be also permitted, without prejudice to
the more general regulations contained in the Directory.
- Since our liturgies are closely related by reason of their common source,
the ferment of liturgical renewal and reform now engaging both our Communions
provides an unprecedented opportunity for collaboration. We should co-operate,
and not take unilateral action, in any significant changes in the seasons
and major holy days of the Christian Year; and we should experiment together
in the development of a common eucharistic lectionary. A matter of special
urgency in view of the advanced stage of liturgical revision in both Communions
is that we reach agreement on the vernacular forms of those prayers, hymns,
and responses which our people share in common in their respective liturgies.
We recommend that this be taken up without delay.
We are gratified that collaboration in this work has been initiated by
the exchange of observers and consultants in many of our respective liturgical
commissions. Especially in matters concerning the vernacular, we recommend
that representatives of our two Communions (not excluding other Christian
bodies with similar liturgical concerns) be associated on a basis of equality
both in international and in national and regional committees assigned
- We believe that joint or parallel statements from our Church leaders
at international, national, and local level on urgent human issues can
provide a valuable form of Christian witness.
- In the field of missionary strategy and activity ecumenical understanding
is both uniquely valuable and particularly difficult. Very little has hitherto
been attempted in this field between our two Communions and while our other
recommendations of course apply to the young Churches and mission areas,
we propose further the institution at international level of an official
join consultation to consider the difficulties involved and the co-operation
which should be undertaken.
- The increasing number of mixed marriages points to the need for a thorough
investigation of the doctrine of marriage in its sacramental dimension,
its ethical demands, its canonical status, and its pastoral implications.
It is hoped that the work of the Joint Commission on Marriage will be promptly
initiated and vigorously pursued, and that its recommendations will help
to alleviate some of the difficulties caused by mixed marriages, to indicate
acceptable changes in Church regulations, and to provide safeguards against
the dangers which threaten to undermine family life in our time.
- We cannot envisage in detail what may be the issues and demands of
the final stage in our quest for the full, organic unity of our two Communions.
We know only that we must be constant in prayer for the grace of the Holy
Spirit in order that we may be open to his guidance and judgement, and
receptive to each other’s faith and understanding. There remain fundamental
theological and moral questions between us where we need immediately to
seek together for reconciling answers. In this search we cannot escape
the witness of our history; but we cannot resolve our differences by mere
reconsideration of, and judgement upon, the past. We must press on in confident
faith that new light will be given us to lead us to our goal.
- The fulfilment of our aim is far from imminent. In these circumstances
the question of accepting some measure of sacramental intercommunion apart
from full visible unity is being raised on every side. In the minds of
many Christians no issue is today more urgent. We cannot ignore this, but
equally we cannot sanction changes touching the very heart of Church life,
eucharistic communion, without being certain that such changes would be
truly Christian. Such certainty cannot be reached without more and careful
study of the theology implied.
- We are agreed that among the conditions required for intercommunion
are both a true sharing in faith and the mutual recognition of ministry.
The latter presents a particular difficulty in regard to Anglican Orders
according to the traditional judgement of the Roman Church. We believe
that the present growing together of our two Communions and the needs of
the future require of us a very serious consideration of this question
in the light of modern theology. The theology of the ministry forms part
of the theology of the Church and must be considered as such. It is only
when sufficient agreement has been reached as to the nature of the priesthood
and the meaning to be attached in this context to the word ‘validity’ that
we could proceed, working always jointly, to the application of this doctrine
to the Anglican ministry today. We would wish to re-examine historical
events a past documents only to the extent that they can throw light upon
the facts of the present situation.
- In addition, a serious theological examination should be jointly undertaken
on the nature of authority with particular reference to its bearing on
the interpretation the historic faith to which both our Communions a committed.
Real or apparent differences between us come to the surface in such matters
as the unity and indefectibility of the Church and its teaching authority,
the Petrine primacy, infallibility, and Mariological definitions.
- In continuation of the work done by our Commission, we recommend that
it be replaced by a Permanent Joint Commission responsible (in co-operation
with the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity and the Church of England
Council on Foreign Relations in association with the Anglican Executive
Officer) for the oversight of Roman Catholic-Anglican relations, and the
co-ordination of future work undertaken together by our two Communions.
- We also recommend the constitution of two joint sub-commissions, responsible
to the Permanent Commission, to undertake two urgent and important tasks:
ONE to examine the question of intercommunion, and the related matters
of Church and Ministry;
THE OTHER to examine the question of authority, its nature, exercise, and
We consider it important that adequate money, secretarial assistance, and
research facilities should be given to the Commission and its sub-commissions
in order that their members may do their work with thoroughness and efficiency.
- We also recommend joint study of moral theology to determine similarities
and differences in our teaching and practice in this field.
- In concluding our Report we cannot do better than quote the words of
those by whom we were commissioned, and to whom, with respect, we now submit
In willing obedience to the command of Christ who bade His disciples love
one another, they declare that, with His help, they wish to leave in the
hands of the God of mercy all that in the past has been opposed to this
precept of charity, and that they make their own the mind of the Apostle
which he expressed in these words: ?Forgetting those things which are behind,
and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press towards
the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus? (Phil
The Common Declaration by Pope Paul VI and the Archbishop of Canterbury
24 March 1966
Malta, 2 January 1968
Some Common Liturgical Forms
- The Lord’s Prayer
- The Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds
- The Salutation, Responses
- The Gloria Patri
- The Kyrie
- The Gloria in excelsis
- The Sursum corda, Sanctus, and Benedictus qui venit
- The Agnus Dei
- The Te Deum
- The Canticles: Benedictus, Magnificat, and Nunc Dimittis
List of Members
Roman Catholic Church
The Most Rev. Charles Helmsing, Bishop of Kansas City-St Joseph (Joint
The Most Rev. J. G. M. Willebrands, titular Bishop of Mauriana
The Most Rev. Williarn Z. Gomes, Bishop of Poona
The Right Rev. Langton D. Fox, titular Bishop of Maura
The Right Rev. Christopher Butler, O.S.B. titular Bishop of Nova
The Rev. Louis Bouyer
The Rev. Father George Tavard, A.A.
The Rev. Michael Richards
The Rev. Father John Keating, C.S.P.
The Rev. Adrian Hastings
The Rev. Camillus Hay, O.F.M.
The Very Rev. Canon W. A. Purdy
The Right Rev. J. R. H. Moorman, Bishop of Ripon (Joint Chairman)
The Right Rev. W. G. H. Simon, Bishop of Llandaff 3
The Right Rev. C. H. W. de Soysa, Bishop of Colombo
The Right Rev. E. G. Knapp-Fisher, Bishop of Pretoria
The Right Rev. H. R. McAdoo, Bishop of Ossory, Ferns, and Leighlin
The Rev. Canon James Atkinson
The Rev. Canon Eric Kemp
The Rev. Professor Howard E. Root
The Rev. Dr. Massey H. Shepherd Jr.
The Rev. Professor Eugene R. Fairweather
The Rev. Professor Albert T. Mollegen
The Rev. Canon John Findlow
The Rev. Canon John R. Satterthwaite