1. In the continuing hope of that unity of the Church for which Christ prayed, the Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue of Canada receives the response of the Vatican to The Final Report of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission.
2. We welcome the Vatican Response for what it is: a step on the journey towards the full, visible unity of the Roman Catholic and the Anglican communions. We share the commitment “to the restoration of visible and full ecclesial communion” renewed by Pope John Paul II and Archbishop Robert Runcie in their 1989 meeting in Rome, and renewed again in the visit of Archbishop George Leonard Carey to Pope John Paul II in 1992, who agreed on the “urgent necessity of the theological dialogue, whose aim is to ensure agreement in the content of the faith, although there may be diversity in its expression.” Together with them and with the whole of our sister communions, we are fellow pilgrims on the road towards unity. Together with them we say: “No pilgrim knows in advance all the steps along the path.” But on this path, we find, with the Vatican Response, that The Final Report stands as a “significant milestone,” not a roadblock.
We are encouraged at the many areas of agreement that the Vatican Response notes, especially in the areas of eucharist, ministry, and the primacy of the bishop of Rome. We are sobered and even puzzled in other places: where we thought agreement had been reached, the Vatican Response finds need for further clarifications of even seems to overlook the amount of genuine agreement already in the ARCIC text, especially on reception and on the relation of Scripture and tradition. Finally, we are spurred to a deeper level of dialogue at points where the Vatican Response shows us that further work is necessary before a substantial agreement can be reached, such as the exercise of authority by the papacy.
4. In our reply, we want to probe just a few areas in order to contribute to the ongoing discussion to overcome our divisions. We do so in response to the hope expressed that the Vatican Response “will serve as an impetus to further study in the same fraternal spirit that has characterized this dialogue in the past.”