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Ecumenical Commission resolves to get around entrenched positions on Mary

The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) has agreed on a methodology based on Scripture and theological reflection in its attempt to fix a strategy to go behind what it describes as "entrenched positions" on the Virgin Mary.

The Commission has just concluded its week-long meeting in Seattle under the co-chairmanship of Australian Anglican Primate and Perth Archbishop Peter Carnley.

It completed work on the text of the Seattle Statement, Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ, which it is now submitting to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and to the Archbishop of Canterbury, together with the Anglican Consultative Council.

The Church's understanding of Mary has been a subject of deep controversy between Anglicans and Roman Catholics. Discussion at Seattle has placed the Roman Catholic dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Mary, and how they may relate to any future restoration of Communion, within the broader context of Scriptural and theological reflection on Mary.

Following its established methodology, the Commission has sought to go behind entrenched positions, and to articulate a common approach to the subject under discussion.

The publication of the document brings to completion the second phase of work of ARCIC, which was mandated in 1982 by Pope John Paul II and Archbishop Robert Runcie. In the last twenty years, the Commission has published four agreed statements - Salvation and the Church (1987), The Church as Communion (1991), Life in Christ (1994) and The Gift of Authority (1999). In 1999, the Commission began work on a consideration of the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the life and doctrine of the Church.

Archbishop Carnley was appointed Anglican co-chair of ARCIC late last year. The Roman Catholic co-chair is Seattle Archbishop Alexander Brunett. The remaining eight Roman Catholic members include Melbourne priest Dr Peter Cross.

ARCIC issues text on Mary (Independent Catholic News 4/2/04)
Anglican - Roman Catholic International Commission Communique 3/2/04 (Anglican Communion News Service)

ARCIC (Centro Pro Unione)
Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
Anglican Communion
Australian Primate to co-chair Anglican Roman Catholic dialogue (11/12/03)

5 Feb 2004