The Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue of Canada (ARC Canada) has been meeting regularly for 50 years, with a mandate to serve the cause of visible Christianity unity and common witness between the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) and the Roman Catholic Church in Canada. Having continued the dialogue online from 2020-2021, members convened in person May 2-5, 2002 at the Manoir D’Youville in Châteauguay, QC.
By Rev. Marie-Louise Ternier, ARC Canada
The Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue of Canada (ARC Canada) was formed in 1971 as a forum for regular dialogue and communication between the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB). Over these five decades, its primary area of emphasis has been to facilitate Canadian input in, and local reception of, ecumenical progress by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC).
In more recent years, ARC Canada has also monitored and engaged with the work of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM). This aspect of its dialogue work complements attention to matters of doctrinal dialogue with practical encouragement of common witness to the Gospel by Anglicans and Roman Catholics in the Canadian context.
Following the 2001 Declaration of Full Communion between the ACC and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), ARC Canada incorporated a ‘Lutheran Observer’ to ensure that the perspective of the ACC’s full communion partner is included in its conversations and study. Anglican partnership with the ELCIC continues to deepen and mature, now by changing the Lutheran observer status to full participant and by adding a second Lutheran person to the dialogue group in the near future.
Hailing from Vancouver to Halifax, including three from Saskatchewan, this past spring ARC Canada members met in person for the first time in over two years at Manoir d’Youville in Chateauguay, QC, in May 2022.
Punctuated by regular prayer times and the celebration of the Eucharist in each tradition, the group reviewed and renewed its mandate to serve as the main bilateral forum for Anglican and Roman Catholic ecumenical engagement in Canada.
ARC Canada will carry on its theological discourse while assisting the process of reception of important agreements in our Canadian context by creating study guides and other user-friendly means for Anglicans and Roman Catholics to grow together in unity and mission.
In the past three years ARC Canada has devoted its time and energy to engagement with ARCIC III’s document Walking Together on The Way: Learning To Be Church – Local, Regional, Global. ARC Canada has created a Study Guide to the document for parish study, as well as a Canadian response to its subject matter. Both will be released publicly as soon as formal assent has been given by our respective ecclesial judicatory bodies.
Other projects ARC Canada has created and made available for local study and discussion can be found at www.churchesindialogue.ca.
The 2022 spring meeting included a presentation by Roman Catholic co-chair Archbishop Brian Dunn on the current Synod on Synodality which Pope Francis has mandated across the worldwide RC Church. Commonalities and differences were identified between the synodal model operative in the ACC and the RC Synodal approach now active in parishes and dioceses across the world.
Several discussion sessions were devoted to our respective churches’ relationships with Indigenous Peoples, exploring the theologies in the various formal apologies issued, and how to begin including an Indigenous voice on the Dialogue. Dialogue members visited the National Shrine of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha and the Interpretive Centre at St. Francis-Xavier Mission in Kahnawake, QC
Finally, Anglican co-chair Bishop Bruce Myers presented on Sorores in Spe, a document released in the fall 2021 by the Malines Conversations Group, a 100-year old informal Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue based in Malines/Mechelen, Belgium. This document takes up the 1896 Papal Bull which declares Anglican Orders null and void.
Sorores in Spe highlights the significant strides made in ecumenical agreements since 1896, the revised liturgies and theologies of Holy Orders in both traditions, the concrete acts of recognition in papal gestures of collegiality and joint Anglican-Roman Catholic liturgies at the highest level. Given these developments, Sorores in Spe argues for an urgent reconsideration of the 1896 judgment against Anglican Orders.
Typically meeting twice a year, ARC Canada’s next meeting, in November 2022, will take place virtually, with a subsequent in-person encounter again in spring 2023.
Current members of ARC Canada are:
Bishop Bruce Myers (Co-Chair)
Rev. Dr. Iain Luke
Rev. Marie-Louise Ternier
Rev. Canon Dr. Scott Sharman (Staff)
Lutheran – Bishop Cindy Halmarson
Archbishop Brian Dunn (Co-Chair)
Sr. Donna Geernaert, SC
Dr. Nicholas Olkovich
Subdeacon Dr. Brian Butcher (Staff)