The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission met for the first time in January 1970, and published its Final Report in 1981.

Aims and method

"From the beginning we were determined, in accordance with our mandate, and in the spirit of Philippians 3:13, ‘forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead', to discover each other's faith as it is today and to appeal to history only for enlightenment, not as a way of perpetuating past controversy."

Introduction:  The foundational theme - Church as koinonia

Koinonia, communion, is the fundamental nature of the Church, its reality, its essence. It refers to the life of the Holy Trinity, the three persons with love pulsating between them. It is through our baptism that we are brought into relationship with the three persons of the Trinity, that we are brought into a new relationship with one another and become members of the body of Christ, the Church. The Church is therefore not primarily an organisational institution. It is divine reality and because it is grounded in the life of the Trinity, it is relational. It is persons in relation with one another because they are in relation with Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The understanding of the Church as communion is what holds the three parts of the Final Report together.

  • The Eucharist is the effectual sign of the koinonia: it builds up and nurtures koinonia and by the Eucharist all the baptised are brought into koinonia with the one who destroyed all the dividing walls.
  • Episcope: the ministry of oversight serves the koinonia.
  • Primacy is necessary between all of those exercising episcope. All the ministers of the Gospel need to be in communion with one another, for the Church is a communion of local churches.

The Church, as koinonia, requires visible expression. Because the Church is called to be both the sign of God’s purpose realised in the world by grace and also the instrument for the accomplishment of this purpose, the Church is sacrament of God’s presence in the world.

The Church is the community of those reconciled with God and with each other because it is the community of those who believe in Jesus Christ and are justified through God’s grace. As the reconciled community it is to be the reconciling community, because it has been called to bring to all mankind through the preaching of the Gospel, God’s gracious offer of redemption.

If Anglicans and Roman Catholics have received the same Word, if we have received the same baptism, we cannot acquiesce in disunity. Unity is of the essence of the Church and since the Church is a visible reality, its unity must be visible. Full visible communion requires mutual recognition of sacraments and ministry, together with the common acceptance of a universal primacy at one with the episcopal college in the service of koinonia.


The Second Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission met for the first time in 1982.


  • Bishop Pierre Dupres warned the 1988 Lambeth Conference that the Pope saw the ordination of women as a ‘grave new obstacle’

  • After the Lambeth the Archbishop of Canterbury wrote to the Pope informing him of the Lambeth Resolution on the consecration of women.

  • The Pope wrote back ‘the ordination of women to the priesthood in some provinces of the Anglican Communion, together with the recognition of the right of individual provinces to proceed with the ordination of women to the episcopate appears effectively to block the way to mutual recognition of ministries”.

  • In May 1994 Ordinatio Sacerdotalis was issued in which the Pope said the Roman Catholic Church had ‘no authority to change Church tradition’. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) said ‘this is to be understood as belonging to the deposit of faith and is to be definitively held’.

  • The Commentary on the response of the CDF, a semi-official document, said that Ordinatio Sacerdotalis was an instance of ‘ordinary magisterium and the tradition is irreformable.


The first task was to respond to the points the Vatican had raised about the work of ARCIC I. ARCIC II produced Clarifications for the Vatican on the points raised about the Eucharist and the Ministry statements. When the Clarifications were studied by some Anglicans they concluded that this new reflection high- jacked the original agreed statements in an unacceptably ‘Roman direction’. Anglicans have made no official response to Clarifications.

ARCIC III Erfurt Communiqué 

ARCIC Erfurt

Anglican–Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) held the seventh meeting of its current phase (ARCIC III) in Erfurt, Germany, 14–20 May, 2017. The Commission met at the St Ursula Educational and Catechetical Centre of the Diocese of Erfurt. The Centre is on a site which has been home to communities of consecrated life for over 800 years. A community of Ursuline sisters occupy part of the site and continue this tradition. The Commission is grateful to the director of the house Frau Carla Riechel, the guesthouse team, and the Ursuline sisters for making its stay so comfortable and for the context of prayer and spirituality in which it was able to conduct its work. The Commission also thanks Professor Myriam Wijlens for making so many of the arrangements for its time in Erfurt.
The Erfurt meeting marks a considerable step forward. In response to the first part of its mandate, to examine “the Church as Communion, local and universal” the Commission completed an agreed statement, the first of its current phase, entitled, Walking Together on the Way: Learning to be Church- Local, Regional, Universal. That the text was agreed owed much to an extensive process of redrafting over twelve months.
Walking Together on the Way employs the method of Receptive Ecumenism to examine the structures by which Catholics and Anglicans order and maintain communion at the local, regional and universal level. It examines common theological principles that Anglicans and Catholics share, and the differentiated structures, based on these principles, by which they make decisions. This method invites both traditions to repentance and conversion, by looking at what is underdeveloped or wounded in themselves. It is also predicated on the belief that in our dialogue partner we meet a community in which the Holy Spirit is alive and active. We can therefore ask firstly, where our communities are in need of reform, and, secondly, what we can learn from the our dialogue partner to help us in this growth. The Commission described this process as “receptive learning”.
The text prepares the way  for the next ARCIC statement on the second part of its mandate, “how in communion the local and universal Church comes to discern right ethical teaching.” The Commission took time to review its work to date on this theme and proposed a schema to be approved at the Informal Talks in October. Building on the ecclesiological text, the schema will guide the next phase of the work of ARCIC III.
The Commission had decided to meet in Erfurt to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Erfurt is a significant city in the life of Martin Luther. It was here that he studied, decided to enter the Augustinian order, made his vows and was ordained. On Wednesday 17 May the Commission  visited the Augustinerkloster where we were guided by the minister, the Revd Dr Irene Mildenberger. Afterwards the Commission was given a guided tour of the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St Mary’s by Dr Markus Schnauß. On Thursday 18 May, the Commission was privileged to meet the Catholic Bishop of Erfurt, the Most Revd Ulrich Neymeyr, who spoke about the pastoral challenges faced by Christians in his diocese.
ARCIC III was particularly glad to complete its first agreed statement, and the first ARCIC statement since 2005, in this significant location and in this auspicious year. It hopes that Walking Together on the Way: Learning to be Church- Local, Regional, Universal will also be known as “The Erfurt Document”. The published text is expected to be available in 2018.

Appendix: Members of ARCIC III present at the meeting
Most Revd Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham, England
Most Revd Sir David Moxon, Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the Holy See
Roman Catholics
Revd Robert Christian, OP                                         St Albert Priory, Oakland, California, USA
Revd Canon Adelbert Denaux, Professor Em.           Brugge, Belgium
Most Revd Arthur Kennedy                                       Auxiliary Bishop of Boston, USA
Professor Paul D. Murray                                           Durham University, England
Professor Sister Teresa Okure, SHCJ                         Catholic Institute of West Africa, Nigeria
Professor Janet E. Smith                                             Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit, Michigan, USA
Revd Professor Vimal Tirimanna, CSsR                   Alphonsianum University, Rome, Italy
Very Revd Dom Henry Wansbrough, OSB               Ampleforth Abbey, England
Dr Paula Gooder                                                         The Church of England
Right Revd Dr Christopher Hill                                 The Church of England
Right Reverend Linda Nicholls                                  The Anglican Church of Canada
Revd Canon Dr Nicholas Sagovsky                           The Church of England
Revd Canon Dr Peter Sedgwick                                The Church in Wales
Revd Dr Charles Sherlock (Consultant)                     The Anglican Church of Australia
Revd Dr William Adam                                            Representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury
WCC Observer
The Revd Dr Odair Pedroso Mateus                          Director of the Commission on Faith and Order
The work of the Commission was supported by the two co-secretaries

The Revd Canon Dr John Gibaut                               (Anglican Communion Office)
The Revd Anthony Currer                                          (Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian    Unity)
The Revd Neil Vigers                                                 (Anglican Communion Office)
The Revd Canon Jonathan Gough                              Minute-taker