Media and Communications Office
With the last 12 months dominated by talk of building walls, the work of building bridges between Christian faith traditions was a welcome cause of celebration.
Yesterday the University of Divinity held a number of events at Trinity College Theological School for the University of Divinity Academic Symposium. The symposium celebrated 50 years of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), a significant collaboration between the Anglican and Catholic colleges of the University of Divinity.
The aim of the day was to review and explore the work of ARCIC over the last 50 years, particularly the most recent ARCIC publication Looking toward a church fully reconciled.
Bishop Terry Curtin with Anglican Rev Dr Charles Sherlock and Anglican Archbishop Philip Freier
ARCIC was established by Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey and Pope Paul VI in 1967 to help foster a sense of unity between the Roman Catholic and Anglican traditions by identifying common ground between the communions. After the final report of ARCIC in 1981, a further five agreed statements were issued by ARCIC II.
Vice Chancellor of the University of Divinity Professor Peter Sherlock said about the event: ‘The 50-year dialogue between the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches represented by ARCIC has been one of the most significant and effective instruments of reconciliation in the post-war world. This exploration of ARCIC’s work is an invaluable opportunity to understand how human societies can engage with differences and look for areas of common endeavour, even about the most profound questions of belief.’
At 5pm, priests and theologians from both traditions gathered in the Trinity Theological School in the Gateway Lecture Theatre. Bishop Terry Curtin from the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne and Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne Philip Freier launched ARCIC II’s report Looking towards a church fully reconciled
. The book anticipates what it will mean living together in a fully reconciled church, and brings together the five agreed statements of ARCIC II. With around 40 attendees, the launch was a warm and relaxed occasion with conversation and laughter over cheese platters and glasses of sparkling white.
In an opening statement, Archbishop Freier acknowledged the vast time and effort the report’s co-editor Rev Dr Charles Sherlock has spent bringing this volume to fruition. Anglican priest and ARCIC member the Rev Dr Charles Sherlock delivered the main address on the work of ARCIC II.
‘Can we be satisfied living out God’s love separately?’ Sherlock said, presenting the case that the mission of God calls for a new approach. ‘Should not Anglicans embrace Laudato Si’ as much as Catholics?’
Charles Sherlock—the longest serving member of ARCIC—devoted a large portion of his life studying the separations pushing Christian communities apart and the dangerous consequences of division and sectarian animosity. In his 23 years at ARCIC, he’s seen an estrangement in the two traditions, he explained.
Since 1570, when the Christian church suffered a breach in communion, it’s important—arguably moreso now than ever—to develop ecumenical dialogue.
Sherlock presented the need to embrace programs that engage both traditions and sustain an Anglican-Catholic dialogue that is a meeting of hearts as much as a meeting of minds.
For fans of reconciliatory dialogue, there’s much cause for optimism. In October 2016, Pope Francis and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby came together in the Church of Saint Gregory on the Caelian Hill in Rome. It was at that same location when, in 595AD, Pope Gregory sent a young Benedictine monk called Augustine to share the gospel with the Anglo-Saxons. In 597—only two years later—Augustine had founded the English Church, becoming the first Archbishop of Canterbury. At the time, Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby both said that they were undeterred by the ‘serious obstacles’ to full unity between Anglicans and Roman Catholics.
The symposium events were presented in collaboration with the Australian Anglican-Roman Catholic Conversation (AustARC), Catholic Theological College, Trinity College Theological School and Yarra Theological Union. The symposium concluded at 7.30pm with the Annual Catholic Theological College Knox lecture, in which Reverend Professor Denis Edwards reviewed the significance of the ARCIC documents in the light of ecumenical progress since Vatican II. Looking towards a church fully reconciled is available from Garratt Publishing for $34.95.