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the last 12 months dominated by talk of building walls, the work of
building bridges between Christian faith traditions was a welcome cause
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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?’
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,
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.
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.