... is in the news again; because Grandson of ARIC, alias ARCIC III, is getting under way.
Dr William Oddie is a man for whom Anglican Catholics of my generation have a great deal of respect. He chronicled, accurately and mercilessly, the unfortunate events of the early 1990s, when an English hierarchy - who, of course, are by now mostly retired or dead - was able to prevent a corporate solution to our problems. The kindness and generosity of the present hierarchy and the warmth of their support for Anglicanorum coetibus make this seem like quite another age from the bleak era when a helpless, saddened, Joseph Ratzinger asked "What are the English bishops so afraid of?"
But Dr Oddie is not quite right in saying that Rome - in his view, rightly - never gave a real OK to the ARCIC accords. As far as Eucharist and Ministry are concerned, the process ended in 1994 with Clarifications, agreed by the relevant dikasteries including CDF, to which Rome agreed "No further study would seem to be required at this stage". It is important to correct Oddie on this, because one of the tattered defences employed by shame-faced Anglican Ecumenics to explain the action of the Anglican Communion in walking away from the process is that 'Rome dragged its feet ... people assumed they weren't really interested ... if it hadn't, we would have been able to prevent the Anglican Communion from embarking on new divisive courses of action'. Rome did nothing of the sort. It did keep on returning to particular issues where it thought there was a fudge; but that was quite simply because the process was being taken so seriously. It had to be got right. And methodologically, Rome was (rightly) concerned that, for Anglicans, all that was being agreed was that the accords were within the spectrum of beliefs allowed by Anglicans. Rome wanted to know that what was agreed represented the Faith of the Anglican Communion and was a Faith which, although the language and terminology might differ, really was, substantially, that of the Catholic Church.
Throughout the ARCIC process, I was sceptical. When, in 1987, the accord on Justification was published, I was particularly outraged. This was a time when, in academic Pauline studies, the New Look on Paul, associated with the name of Ed Sanders, was the talking-point in academe. This New Look actually demonstrated that the whole Reformation construct of Justification By Faith Alone was nonsense. Non-Catholic academic scholarship had finally shown up the implausibility of classical Protestant dogma. But not a word of this got into the Report.