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Anglican Synod to debate Papal Primacy

A joint Roman Catholic and Anglican report arguing that the Pope should be recognised as the "universal primate" is to be debated by the General Synod of the Anglican Church next month.

The Telegraph (UK) underlines the significance of this debate by introducing its story with this statement: "The Church of England is being asked to take its biggest step towards accepting the primacy of the Pope and the concept of infallibility since Henry VIII broke from Rome 450 years ago."

The paper also outlines the potential difficulties and divisiveness the debate is likely to cause:

Church leaders anxious to promote unity have welcomed the proposals, but they will meet fierce resistance from conservative Protestants.

The Rev David Phillips, the general secretary of the Church Society and a Synod member, said: "We would reject universal primacy even if the papacy is reformed. There is no way we would want to be linked to the Roman Catholic Church. On some issues, its teaching is even worse now than it was at the Reformation."

The Gift of Authority report was published several years ago by the Third Anglican/ Roman Catholic International Commission (Arcic).

It argued that Anglicans should accept the supremacy of the Bishop of Rome as long as the Pope devolved much of his power to his bishops and local churches.

More controversially, the report also suggests that the Church as a body could, in certain circumstances, make infallible pronouncements on matters of teaching.

Telegraph – Synod to debate Pope's supremacy

EWTN – The Gift of Authority – Full Text of the ARCIC document

20 Jan 2004