Monday, May 22, 2006

The Agreed Anglican/Roman Statement on Papal Primacy: ARCIC II's "The Gift of Authority"

47. Within his wider ministry, the Bishop of Rome offers a specific ministry concerning the discernment of truth, as an expression of universal primacy. This particular service has been the source of difficulties and misunderstandings among the churches. Every solemn definition pronounced from the chair of Peter in the church of Peter and Paul may, however, express only the faith of the Church. Any such definition is pronounced within the college of those who exercise episcope and not outside that college. Such authoritative teaching is a particular exercise of the calling and responsibility of the body of bishops to teach and affirm the faith. When the faith is articulated in this way, the Bishop of Rome proclaims the faith of the local churches. It is thus the wholly reliable teaching of the whole Church that is operative in the judgement of the universal primate. In solemnly formulating such teaching, the universal primate must discern and declare, with the assured assistance and guidance of the Holy Spirit, in fidelity to Scripture and Tradition, the authentic faith of the whole Church, that is, the faith proclaimed from the beginning. It is this faith, the faith of all the baptised in communion, and this only, that each bishop utters with the body of bishops in council. It is this faith which the Bishop of Rome in certain circumstances has a duty to discern and make explicit. This form of authoritative teaching has no stronger guarantee from the Spirit than have the solemn definitions of ecumenical councils. The reception of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome entails the recognition of this specific ministry of the universal primate. We believe that this is a gift to be received by all the churches.


Mark said...

I'll have to read the complete text of "The Gift of Authority". Until then, several questions come to mind:

1)This statement speaks of a "universal primacy" and a "universal primate" ( The Bishop of Rome ); but nothing very specific is said concerning a universal jurisdiction. Are we to understand this "particular service of the "universal primacy" as a precise description of the jurisdiction exercized by the Bishop of Rome, as universal primate, or is it actually wider than this?

2) It states that definitions pronounced ex-cathedra are made "within the college of those who exercise episcope and not outside that college." Does this statement presume the college to be composed of bishops in sacramental communion with the see of Rome?

3) Again, it mentions "the faith of all the baptized in communion." What does "in communion" mean?

4)The statement claims for this "form of authoritative teaching" the same guarantee "from the Spirit" that validates "the solemn declarations of the ecumenical councils". But how many councils are we talking about?


lexorandi2 said...

Hi Mark,

I'll give you some of my thoughts in order of your questions:

(1) It would seem that the question of universal jurisdiction was deliberately tabled by ARCIC, while both sides agreed to a nebulous "particular service." This is a major obstacle to full agreement.

(2) I think that both sides are arguing in abstract, the presupposition being that ex cathedra statements are only "ex cathedra" to the degree that they are made "within the college." There's enough wiggle room for the Anglican participants to say "yes" to this notion without admitting that any prior supposed ex cathedra statements are validly "ex cathedra."

(3) The interesting thing about The Gift of Authority is that the participants assert that there already exists a degree of communion (albeit imperfect) between the two churches by virtue of a common baptism.

(4) That's a good question that won't be answered until much further down the path of ecumenicity, if ever. Again, they are arguing in the abstract.

Mark said...

The fact that the question of universal jurisdiction was tabled during discussions is both understandable and frustrating.

As an Anglican, I could accept the Bishop of Rome having the status of primus inter pares. However, insofar as his superiority within the college of apostolic bishops would be largely honorific, I can't see how any pretensions to a universal jurisdiction-however defined-could remain legitimate.

Don't get me wrong, I'd like nothing better than to see the entire Church catholic united in sacramental communion ( though I doubt this will be happening any time soon ). We can only imagine what kind of compromises this would require from orthodox Anglicans; but it's not as if the Church of Rome would remain unaffected. She should, for instance, be willing to rescind the Bull, Apostolicae Curae, and to acknowledge the numerous historical mistakes it contains ( as revealed by Saepius Officio ).


lexorandi2 said...

Apostolicae Curae is virtually redundant for two different, and contrasting, reasons:

(1) The Old Catholics (whose orders are not in question) have cross-pollenated with Anglicans to render the Bull moot.

(2) The ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate has called into question Anglican orders in those provinces and contexts where the practice has taken root.

It's messy.

Anonymous said...

No doubt is it messy. I just received from Bill Tighe Dix's _The Question of Anglican Orders_. It will have to be added to my list of Sunday night reading!

BTW, I attempted to answer your question over at my blog on immolatus and oblatio in the Eucharist.

David+ said...

With regard to Apostolicae Curae ... from what I have understood, the question of Anglican Orders is not only an issue of succession but fellowship as it also guards the form and intention of the ordinal. So, Romans see in Anglican Orders not only a defunct form for making priests but also such a break in fellowship that regardless of Old Catholics intermingling with Anglicans, that true succession has been lost at least since the mid 16th century and not re-established. Some say that succession would have been regained via the Laudian period but what I am curious about is why those concerned about Apostolicae Curae haven't greatly pursued why the Orthodox also reject Apostolic Succession within Anglican Orders? My history on this is fuzzy but I understand that during the first half of the 20th century the Eastern Orthodox Church was poised to accept Anglican Orders as valid. Several Metropolitans (I believe in Cyprus, Constantinople, Jerusalem) acknowledged Anglican Orders as valid and were awaiting Moscow's agreement when it never came. I believe the hang-up was over Anglican Eucharistic theology and therefore just what the priest was being ordained to do. Apparently Moscow believed it was insufficient in form and intention and so they refused to see Anglican Orders as therefore valid. My question to you is: Is this history true? Even if Anglican Orders where recognized then, I doubt seriously it would have stayed that way due to Women's ordination - Orthodox rightly see this as sacrilegious.

lexorandi2 said...


It's been awhile since I read Apost. Curae in any great detail, but I don't recall that "break in fellowship" was an issue bearing upon the legitimacy of Anglican orders. Recall that the Old Catholics broke fellowship with Rome as well, and that doesn't call into question the validity of their orders.

Rather the Bull focused on Form and Intent, the argument being that the Anglican ordinal is deficient in its form (the manner in which ordination is conferred) and expressive of a different intent (the fact that the conferring of a "sacrifical priesthood" is omitted).

Subsequent revisions to the 1552 Ordinal have made slight modifications to clarify what was intended, but, obviously, if a church loses its apostolic succession it can't get it back simply by revising its ordinal.

The early twentieth century was a time of great ecumenical dialogue between the Anglicans and some Eastern Orthodox bodies. The documents produced in this era show how extremely close reunion was. The question of the validity of orders, however, is a secondary issue to the Eastern Orthodox. More important to them in these dialogues is unanimity in Faith. In other words, for the E. Orthodox the question of validity is a moot point outside of full communion. If these dialogues had resulted in a recognition of a mutual orthodoxy between the two estranged bodies then the matter of orders would naturally have fallen into place.

lexorandi2 said...

One more thing: I plan to post some excerpts of the Anglican/Orthodox dialogues of the early 20th century. However, this will have to wait until I'm back in the office and have access to my files.

I start my vacation today. We'll be going to South Padre Island tomorrow. I hope to be able to blog a little from there, and plan to do so. Hopefully I'll get another entry posted before we leave for the white beaches and blue Gulf waters.

Mark said...

"I start my vacation today. We'll be going to South Padre Island tomorrow...Hopefully I'll get another entry posted before we leave for the white beaches and blue gulf waters."

You mean to say you prefer white beaches and blue gulf waters to the wonders of La Habra, especially its luxurious accomodations?


lexorandi2 said...

I was just in Los Angeles last weekend: Friday night to Sunday morning. I would have called, but there was no free time to meet up. Friday night I was at the Crystal Cathedral for a banquet. Saturday I attended the commencement ceremonies of California Graduate School of Theology. In between things, there was barely enough time for blogging!

Incidentally, I flew in to see my former doctoral supervisor, Roger Beckwith, formerly of Oxford Univ. CGSOT appointed him President (honorary appt.), and he spoke at commencement. I had the honor of hooding him when he received his honorary doctorate. Roger's up in age now, but still sharp as a tack. It was great to see him.