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Last month, a British newspaper created controversy when it claimed a yet-to-be published document by an Anglican and Catholic Church joint commission outlines plans for their unification under the pope. The leaked report, “Growing Together in Unity and Mission,” was put together by the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM).
Catholic and Anglican leaders quickly accused the newspaper of wildly exaggerating the report. Many also pointed out that a similar joint commission (the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission) has been working toward unification for years. The co-chair of the IARCCUM clarified that the document is not being published as an official statement of the churches but of the commission.
According to the document, its goal is only to “foster discussion and reflection.” Publication of the report is awaiting a Catholic commentary to be finalized.
All controversy aside, both churches admittedly want re-unification. Discussion about uniting under the pope has been occurring for the last 35 years. When the Archbishop of Canterbury visited Pope Benedict XVI last November, the Pope said, “It is our fervent hope that the Anglican Communion will remain grounded in the Gospels and the Apostolic Tradition which form our common patrimony and are the basis of our common aspiration to work for full visible unity” (Zenit News Agency).
There is little doubt that a modern ecumenical shift toward Rome is taking place. Our article “The Ecumenical Movement – A Family Reunion?” describes how there is “an increased acceptance of Catholic doctrine among Protestants. This is striking, as it was dissent with Catholic doctrine that ignited the Protestant Reformation. In spite of a history of disagreement that often led to persecution, martyrdom and war, these differences are now being minimized.”
To learn where this will eventually lead, read the full article.