U.S. Anglican-Catholic meeting discusses immigration and new provision

.- The Vatican’s recent provision for Anglicans who want to become Catholic, immigration issues and Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor were the topics at a joint Anglican-Catholic theological meeting last week in Washington, D.C.

The Anglican-Roman Catholic Theological Consultation in the United States (ARC-USA) held its meeting at the Washington Retreat House on Oct. 26 and 27.

Episcopal Bishop of Southern Ohio Thomas Breidenthal and Catholic Bishop of Alexandria, Louisiana Ronald P. Herzog co-chaired the meeting.

The meeting, the sixty-sixth of the consultation, marked the third round of dialogue on the theme“Ecclesiology and Moral Discernment: Common Ground and Divergences.”

Responding to the Vatican’s October 20 announcement of personal ordinariates for former Anglicans who wish to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church, members of the consultation welcomed the Church’s acknowledgment of a “substantial overlap” in the faith and the legitimacy of many Anglican traditions. According to an ARC-USA press release, members thought this acknowledgment was the fruit of over 40 years of official dialogue.

Because of the lack of published details on the new ordinariates, members thought it was premature to comment in detail but anticipated receiving the document for their next meeting.

Members of the consultation were encouraged by Anglican and Catholic leaders’ “firm statements” that official dialogue between the two churches will continue.

On immigration reform Fr. Thomas Rausch, S.J., of Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles presented the Catholic viewpoint. He focused on the 2003 document by the U. S. and Mexican Bishops’ Conferences, “Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope.”

Bishop Breidenthal presented his paper, “Immigration Reform: An Anglican Approach.”

Consultation members saw substantial convergence in the discussion.

Pope John Paul II’s 1993 encyclical Veritatis Splendor, which outlined fundamental elements of Catholic moral teaching, was summarized by Fr. Charles Caccavale of the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, New York. He emphasized that it presents the moral life as deeply connected to the life of faith and to eternal life, ARC-USA reports.

Prof. Timothy Sedgwick of Virginia Theological Seminary discussed the document from an Anglican perspective, noting one area requiring further exploration is the encyclical's understanding of “intrinsically evil acts.”

During the meeting members prayed the Catholic and Anglican Liturgy of the Hours together and celebrated the Eucharist in both traditions, with members participating to the extent allowed by their respective churches. They toured the John Paul II Cultural Center and held a dinner in honor of the Episcopal Church's ecumenical officer Bishop Christopher Epting, who will be retiring in December after nine years of service.

The next meeting is scheduled for March, 2010 in Delray Beach, Florida.

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