RECEPTIVE ECUMENISM IN THE THIRD ANGLICAN-ROMAN CATHOLIC INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION: RELEVANCE FOR ECUMENICAL DIALOGUE
Considering the apparent unrealistic nature of full visible Christian unity, Ecumenical Theology recently focuses on communion. Despite emerging differences, it demonstrates communion by embracing concepts like unity in diversity, differentiated consensus, reconciled diversity, and legitimate diversity. These [means of affirming diversity and plurality without destroying communion], are fruits of ecumenical dialogue. A difficulty of actualizing visible unity resulted in frustration and disappointment, partly due to what some attribute to approach/attitude to dialogue. Receptive Ecumenism emerges as an alternative approach with open possibilities for ecumenical progress. It emphasizes ‘receptive learning’ in a process of ‘explicit ecclesial self-critique’to dispose churches to self-critical openness and conversion for growth and reform on which current ecumenical progress depends. Considering fundamental questions regarding ‘Church as Communion’, the Third Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC III) applied this approach in a recent bilateral dialogue. ARCIC III identified common grounds, points of differences and tensions, and potentials for mutual receptive learning between the Anglicans and Roman Catholics. This article critically discussed Receptive Ecumenism, its application in the first agreed statement: Walking Together on the Way: Learning to Be the Church – Local, Regional and Universal, and relevance for ecumenical relations. We evaluated the document, critically analyzed RE as a new approach, considered possible challenges, and prospects for other ecumenical engagements. The discussion showcased Receptive Ecumenism as an ecumenical disposition and attitude.