Brazilian Church Leader Laments Apostolic Constitution

The head of the Anglican Church in Brazil has issued a response to the Vatican's November announcement about offering Anglicans full communion with the Catholic Church, calling the move an "unexpected…unilateral initiative that will certainly require deeper analysis."

Archbishop Mauricio Andrade of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil wrote last week that the Vatican's Apostolic Constitution goes astray from the 40 years of, "frank and productive dialogue," existing between the Anglican and Catholic churches and is a document that, "creates an ethical problem of interference in the internal affairs of a sister church."

Specifically, Andrade pointed to theological elements of the Constitution that he says have not been "satisfactorily resolved" between the two churches, including the issue of the Catholic Church identifying itself as the "true and original sign of the presence of Christ among peoples," and the understanding that the unity of the Church is grounded in the claim of Petrine ministry.

"Clearly, these issues must be faced with honesty and open dialogue, to which we have always been committed in a respectful manner," Andrade wrote.

The Brazilian archbishop also lamented that no member of the Anglican Communion or even the ecumenical arm of the Catholic Church was involved in the drafting of the Apostolic Constitution and also questioned the constitution's focus on targeting active members of the Anglican Church.

"A matter conducted in such a way, privately and under the coordination of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – that is to say, specifically on a doctrinal level and without any regard for its ecumenical dimension – would at least merit the transparency expected between two churches in ecumenical dialogue," the archbishop wrote.

"We honestly hope that this interference does not become an obstacle to the future of our dialogue and that, in time, we will be able to become familiar with all aspects of such Constitution – which have not been made public – and to apply, inasmuch as possible, the principle of respect for the internal autonomy of our churches," he continued.

"We hope that this matter is discussed with sincerity on the international and local levels of dialogue of both our churches and that the progress already made may be restored in the quest to overcome our misunderstandings and resume the path to unity aspired after by Christ and dreamt of by all of us!" Andrade concluded.

Copyright © 2013 Ecumenical News