An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Canterbury Statement

This agreed statement on Ministry and Ordination was finalized by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) at Canterbury in 1973. It was eventually included within the ARCIC Final Report (1982). It expressed agreement upon such matters as the origins of sacramental ordination, emergence of the threefold ministry, relationship of the ordained ministry to the laity, the concept of episcope, relationship of ordination to eucharistic presidency, evolution of priestly terminology, the meaning of ordination, indelibility of holy orders, and the nature of apostolic succession. The statement concluded that the negative judgment of the Roman Catholic Church on Anglican Orders (1896) was now placed in a new context and that the commission had reached consensus on essential matters. An “Elucidation” issued by the commission in 1979 considered that the principles upon which its doctrinal agreement rested were not affected by the ordination of women, since it had been “concerned with the origin and nature of the ordained ministry and not with the question of who can or cannot be ordained.” The 1979 General Convention of the Episcopal Church went on to affirm that the Canterbury Statement “provide[s] a basis upon which to proceed in furthering the growth towards unity of the Episcopal Church with the Roman Catholic Church.” The official response of the 1988 Lambeth Conference also found the Canterbury Statement, together with the Elucidation, to be “consonant in substance with the faith of Anglicans” and “a sufficient basis for taking the next step forward towards the reconciliation of our Churches grounded in agreement in faith.” The Vatican's definitive response to the Final Report, however, finally released in 1991, raised a number of objections.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.