United Kingdom: Anglicans reject proposal on papal primacy

Source: FSSPX News


The General Synod of the Church of England has rejected the proposal of papal primacy. It has called for a further examination of the proposals contained in the report The Gift of Authority, prepared by the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC). (See DICI n° 89)

The synod approved a motion presented by the Council for the Christian Unity of the Church (CCU), which has asked ARCIC to examine this report more closely. In an accompanying note, CCU asked ARCIC – which includes equal numbers of Anglicans and Roman Catholics among its members - “to show that its proposals do justice to the Anglican inheritance of faith”.

“The exposition of universal primacy in GA reflects, without any doubt, aspects of the Roman Catholic tradition,” the CCU noted. “It is less clear whether the witness of the Anglican tradition, from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries onwards, and that of other Churches shaped by the Reformation, together with that of the Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches, has been taken seriously”.

The ARCIC report affirms that the Bishop of Rome – the pope – “exercises a specific ministry concerning the discernment of truth” and adds that “the acceptance of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome entails the recognition of this ministry as being specific to universal primacy. We believe that this is a gift to be received through all the churches.”

The “Bishop” of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, a member of ARCIC, told the synod that the report “The Gift of Authority” was not “a thoughtless, rash approval of what is happening in the Vatican today”. Indeed, he noted, the report considers the Bible as the fundamental reference for the authority of the Church; now the authority of the Bible, as opposed to that of Tradition, is an essential point of the Protestant reform.

The “Archbishop” of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, expressed interest in a modified form of infallible teaching. He professed “serious worries” concerning an infallibility representing “an individual spiritual charism”, while adding: “We should seek in the Church a reliable way to discern and to settle conflicts.”

The motion of the CCU has, however, reaffirmed the commitment of the Church of England “to the cause of visible unity of the Church of Christ”.