The Development of Anglican-Roman Catholic Relations

For many years, building relations and understanding between Anglican and Roman Catholic Christians depended on personal, informal and unofficial contacts and friendships.

There were indications of improved relations between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church before the Second Vatican Council. In 1960 Geoffrey Fisher paid a visit to Pope John XXIII in Rome, but in a private capacity rather than as Archbishop of Canterbury.

In 1961 Canon Bernard Pawley was appointed the representative in Rome of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to the Holy See.

From 1962 to 1965 Anglicans were in Rome to observe the Vatican Council, and they came to contribute to its evolving work.

When the Vatican Council came to a close it was realised that another line of contact needed to be put in place. In 1966 Archbishop Michael Ramsey paid an official visit to Pope Paul VI (on which occasion the Pope gave him his episcopal ring from the diocese of Milan) and they issued their Common Declaration ‘to inaugurate a serious dialogue...which, founded on the Gospels and the ancient common tradition, may lead to the unity for which Christ prayed.’

So a Joint Preparatory Commission was established, which in the so-called Malta Report of 1967 recommended a dialogue agenda which should cover both theological and practical issues. For that purpose, the forum in which this would happen was set up, and named the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission, or ARCIC.

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