The Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue in Canada (ARC) has met regularly since 1971. It works closely with the Anglican-Roman Catholic Bishops’ Dialogue (ARC-B), which was established in 1975. Supported by the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, the mandate of both Dialogues is to advance ecumenical understanding and cooperation between the churches in our country. In recent years, the Anglican contingent on ARC has also added members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) as a expression of the deepening full communion relationship between the ACC and ELCIC.
The latest round of meetings of the ARC Dialogue were held Oct. 2-5, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The ARC-B Dialogue also convened for both independent and overlapping sessions with ARC from Oct. 1-4. The gatherings provided the opportunity to continue work on several current projects, as well as to connect with local church leaders and their communities, in order to learn about the ecumenical context on the ground.
Over the past year, ARC has been focused on research around ‘theologies of church apologies,’ from an ecumenical perspective. While each tradition has particular ways of understanding and articulating the relationship between personal sins by members of the Church and the identity of the Church itself, nevertheless there is a high degree of agreement on all sides that it is important and necessary for Church leaders today to confess and take responsibility for the failings of the Church – and the harms committed in its name – in generations past. Indeed, this seems to be an increasingly common feature of ministry in the 21st century as churches are regularly being called upon by their own members, as also by the wider society, to make amends and to seek justice in regard to both historic and contemporary wrongdoings. This penitential vocation does not belong to any one denomination or ecclesial communion alone, and ARC therefore it critical to reflect on the matter from an ecumenical point of view. ARC anticipates that it will have a written resource to share later in 2024 that may assist leaders and members of the churches to do so in their own right.
While in the Halifax area, members of ARC were also able to encounter the local community through excursions and public events. On Oct. 3, a special Choral Evensong, followed by a reception, was held at the chapel of the University of King’s College, providing the chance for the Dialogue to connect with both students and members of the administration. On the morning of Oct. 4, ARC travelled to the Millbrook First Nation to visit the local Roman Catholic parish, to spend time at the Cultural and Heritage Centre, and to sit in circle with Mi’kmaq Elders and community member to receive their teaching, listen to their concerns, and share in their hopes for the restoration of right relationships. The evening of Oct. 4 saw a public event hosted at the Atlantic School of Theology – an academic panel presentation on how to encourage ecumenical formation in the changing world of contemporary theological education.
As is always the custom, these times of discussion and learning were complemented by daily prayer drawn from different rites and forms within the Anglican, Lutheran, Roman Catholic, and Ukrainian Catholic liturgical traditions. Eating together and enjoying social times are also essential components of the ARC Dialogue, which must always be built upon a foundation of trust and friendship if it is to bear good fruit.
Meeting two times per year and alternating between digital and physical gatherings, ARC will convene virtually in May of 2024, and in-person in November of 2024 in another region of the country yet to be determined.
Current members of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue in Canada are:
- Bishop Bruce Myers, Anglican Diocese of Québec (co-chair)
- Bishop (retired) Cindy Halmarson, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, Cobourg, Ontario
- Rev. Dr. Iain Luke, Principal, College of Emmanuel and St. Chad, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
- Rev. Paul Sartison, Pastor, Epiphany Lutheran Church, Winnipeg, Manitoba
- Rev. Marie-Louise Ternier, Humboldt, Saskatchewan
- Rev. Canon Dr. Scott Sharman, co-secretary, Animator for Ecumenical & Interfaith Relations, Anglican Church of Canada
- Archbishop Brian Dunn, Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth (co-chair)
- Adèle Brodeur, Grand Séminaire de Montréal, Québec
- Sr. Dr. Donna Geernaert, SC, Halifax, Nova Scotia
- Nicholas Jesson, Ecumenical Officer, Archdiocese of Regina, Saskatchewan
- Dr. Nicholas Olkovich, St. Mark’s College, Vancouver, British Columbia
- Subdeacon Dr. Brian Butcher, co-secretary, Advisor for Ecumenical & Interfaith Relations, Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
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