Very interesting article by Paul Vallely in the Independent (via AngCentRoma). Perhaps people such as myself need to lift our stooping frames and tired feet, weighed down by doom and gloom over prospects for unity between Canty and Rome. There are some very subtle thinkers inhabiting the bodies of the ABC and the Pontiff. Try these for the money paragraphs:
"Much of ARCIC’s work is safely banked. When Rome’s top ecumenist, Cardinal Walter Kasper, called a meeting of Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists and Reformed churches in 2010 it found, one insider said, “not one single area of theology in which we do not have some measure of agreement”. This was not just a clever repackaging of old disputes. It is a real growth in understanding.
But until recently ARCIC had hit the buffers. When Rome took an extraordinary 10 years to respond to one key ARCIC agreement many Anglicans lost patience and went ahead with the ordination of women and more liberal attitudes to gays.
In response the Vatican pulled the plug on the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity and Mission (IARCCUM). Pope Benedict XVI’s unilateral decision in 2009 to set up an Anglican Ordinariate to poach dissident Anglicans to Rome caused further resentment.
Yet things have clearly begun to change. Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby have similar visions. Both are no-nonsense characters with a “sleeves rolled up” approach to making change happen. Yet both see theological union as crucial. They have no patience with the “let’s agree to disagree on theology and just open a food bank together” approach.
In Rome Archbishop Welby – who despite his evangelical background, has a Benedictine spiritual director and has invited a French Catholic religious community, Chemin Neuf, to live in his home in Lambeth Palace – said that Anglicans and Catholics had to “get away from being quite comfortable with the fact we live separately”. Without theology, he said, the churches will become “just another NGO with a lot of old buildings”.
The renewed talk of unity is more than a pious aspiration. A third round of ARCIC talks has had meetings so far in Bose, Hong Kong, Rio and Durban. They have shifted the focus away from what divides the two churches to “receptive ecumenism” – what each side has to learn from the other.
At the heart of their discussions is how the two Communions go about making decisions. There are huge contrasts: Catholicism is heavily centralised whereas in Anglicanism authority is dispersed between many churches in many nations. Division is part of the Protestant DNA. And Anglicans are more divided among themselves now than ever before.
But Pope Francis clearly wants to change the governance of the Catholic Church so it is less like a mediaeval monarchy and more open to the wisdom and insights of all its members.
Given the practical difficulties posed by issues of gender and sexuality it is hard to see what unity between Catholics and Anglicans might look like – certainly not uniformity. But if the intellectual difficulties are greater now than 50 years ago, emotionally the two churches are closer than at any time since the reign of Henry VIII."
PS Independently of me, Bosco Peters of Liturgy also has posted today about the recent meeting.