Anglican-Roman Catholic Marriages
The Conferences welcomes the report of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission on "The Theology of Marriage and its Application to Mixed Marriages" (1975).
In particular we record our gratitude for the general agreement on the theology of Christian marriage there outlined, and especially for the affirmation of the "first order principle"* of life-long union (ie. in the case of a breakdown of marriage). We also welcome the recognition that the differing pastoral practices of our two traditions do in fact recognise and seek to share a common responsibility for those for whom "no course absolutely consonant with the first order principle of marriage as a life-long union may be available."
We also endorse the recommendations of the Commission in respect of inter-Church marriages:
(1) that, after joint preparation and pastoral care given by both the Anglican and Roman Catholic counsellors concerned, a marriage may validly and lawfully take place before the duly authorised minister of either party, without the necessity of Roman Catholic dispensation;
(2) that, as an alternative to an affirmation or promise by the Roman Catholic party in respect of the baptism and upbringing of any children, the Roman Catholic parish priest may give a written assurance to his bishop that he has put the Roman Catholic partner in mind of his or her obligations and that the other spouse knows what these are.
We note that there are some variations in different regions in the provisions of Roman Catholic directories on inter-Church marriages. We nevertheless warmly welcome the real attempts of many Roman Catholic episcopal conferences to be pastorally sensitive to those problems arising out of their regulations, which remain an obstacle to the continued growth of fraternal relations between us. In particular, we note a growing Roman Catholic understanding that a decision as to the baptism and upbringing of any children should be made within the unity of the marriage, in which the Christian conscience of both partners must be respected. We urge that this last development be encouraged.
The problems associated with marriage between members of our two Communions continue to hinder inter-Church relations and progress towards unity. While we recognise that there has been an improved situation in some places as a result of the "Motu Propio," the general principles underlying the Roman Catholic position are unacceptable to Anglicans. Equality of conscience as between partners in respect of all aspects of their marriage (and in particular with regard to the baptism and religious upbringing of children) is something to be affirmed both for its own sake and for the sake of an improved relationship between the Churches.
*See "Anglican-Roman Catholic Marriages" (London, CIO 1975), p.21, para.49.