An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Venice Statement

This agreed statement on Authority was finalized by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) at Venice in 1976. It was eventually included within the ARCIC Final Report (1982). It said the church can be described as “indefectible” because human “failures cannot destroy the Church's ability to proclaim the Gospel and to show forth the Christian life; for we believe that Christ will not desert his Church and that the Holy Spirit will lead it into all truth.” On conciliar authority, it said that ecumenical councils “are authoritative when they express the common faith and mind of the Church” and are thus “binding upon the whole church” and, therefore, “When the Church meets in ecumenical council its decisions on fundamental matters of faith exclude what is erroneous” so long as they are “faithful to Scripture and consistent with Tradition” and “formulate the central truths of salvation.” On primacy, after setting forth an ideal, the statement deemed it “appropriate that in any future union a universal primacy such as has been described should be held by [the Roman see].” An “Elucidation” issued by the commission (1981) explained that “much Anglican objection has been directed against the manner of the exercise and particular claims of the Roman primacy rather than against universal primacy as such.” The 1985 General Convention of the Episcopal Church resolved that the Venice Statement “represents a theological model of convergence towards which both of our Churches may grow and, in that sense, is sufficiently consonant in substance with the faith of this Church to justify further conversations and to offer a basis for taking further steps.” The official response of the 1988 Lambeth Conference welcomed it “as a firm basis for the direction and agenda of the continuing dialogue.” However, the Vatican's definitive response to the Final Report, finally released in 1991, raised a number of unresolved 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.