Almost twenty years after the Church of England introduced women priests, its governing general synod is due to vote on whether to allow women to become bishops (20 November 2012). If approved, the first female bishop in the Church of England is expected to be consecrated in 2014.
Back in 2004, the Church of England’s House of Bishops Working Party on Women in the Episcopate released a report called “The Rochester Report: Women Bishops in the Church of England?”
The Department of Dialogue and Unity of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales issued a response to the Rochester Report.
In the introductory remarks, the document states:
“Although the ordination of women bishops in the Church of England would undoubtedly create an additional major obstacle to any future full communion with the Roman Catholic Church, and might further impair the degree of communion already existing, the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales remain committed to maintaining as much unity as possible with the Church of England.”
This remains the case today.
In a post-Plenary press conference in November 2012, when asked by a journalist how the rubber stamping of the move towards women bishops would impact on dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Church of England, Archbishop Vincent Nichols said:
“Obviously there are women bishops in the Anglican Communion already and, in that sense, the fundamental position of the Anglican Communion is clear. I don’t think that it will fundamentally alter the level of dialogue and cooperation between us – that is based on a strong appreciation of our shared life in Christ, through baptism, and within the life of grace. But it will create an additional sense of an identity within the Church of England that is less approximate to the Catholic tradition. The dialogue will continue but this is a significant step.”
You can listen to the clip from the press conference by using the player in the top right-hand corner of this page. Alternatively click on the link below the player to download.
What is ARCIC III? It is the third phase of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission – a body that seeks to identify common ground between the two Churches. It had its first meeting in May 2011 and used a method of dialogue called ‘receptive ecumenism’. This method seeks to facilitate ecumenical progress by learning from the other, rather than simply asking the other to learn from us. Receptive ecumenism is more about self-examination and inner conversion than convincing the other. Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham is the Co-Chair for the Catholic Church alongside Anglican Archbishop David Moxon of the New Zealand dioceses.
More on ARCIC III
Archbishop’s Commitment to Christian Unity
Archbishop Bernard Longley shared his thoughts and hopes for a new chapter in ecumenical dialogue when ARCIC III began in 2011.
Final Communique from the Meeting of ARCIC III*
This includes a short interview with Mgr Mark Langham of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity on the discussions that took place in Bose, northern Italy, in May 2011.
Our section on the Bishops’ Conference site focusing on Christian Unity
The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
Official website of the Church of England