The members of the Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue of Canada (ARC) are grateful for the publication of The Gift of Authority: Authority in the Church III by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC II). We welcome it as an important expression of growth in our common understanding of the Church, of the charism of pastoral authority, and the fundamental character of its exercise in service to our communion with God and to the unity in faith and charity among the people of God. We believe this document represents a significant contribution toward the resolution of the central issue over which our two communions divided – the primacy of the Bishop of Rome – and establishes a new context of theological consensus within which to consider this ministry to the communion of the churches. It is our firm hope that the significant level of consensus achieved to date will lead Anglicans and Roman Catholics to the establishment of concrete and stable forms of shared ecclesial life that will express the genuine communion in faith that we share.
We shall consider the overall context of our continuing dialogue on the exercise of pastoral authority in the life of the Church and explore the advances in agreement achieved by The Gift of Authority. Following that we wish to bring a number of more critical observations to ARCIC’s attention and consider some ways of moving forward in our continuing dialogue concerning the structures and exercise of pastoral authority in the Church.