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ARCIC criticised

02 November 2006

THE Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) document Mary, Grace and Hope in Christ was criticised at the Irish General Synod, in a report by the Standing Committee, as being unbalanced and ambiguous in parts.

"Although the document sets forth some helpful principles relating to the interpretation of Holy Scripture (par 7), it appears that in practice its approach at times seems to border on the simplistic and to disregard the broad weight of biblical scholarship. At times it is difficult to avoid an impression of lack of balance and even some 'special pleading'," the report states.

The ARCIC document's findings on the Roman Catholic doctrines of the immaculate conception and the Assumption are rejected as being unscriptural and ambiguous. "To what extent can doctrines be said to be in agreement (consonant) with scripture and ancient common traditions if adequate basis for them can be found in neither?" the report asks. It says that, in the case of the Assumption, the only sources of "independent historical information" are found in "entirely fictional, apocryphal or even heretical writings . . . generally regarded as valueless".

Equally scathing is the Standing Committee's view on the ARCIC findings concerning the immaculate conception. It describes Mary's "exemption from original sin (which is what the Immaculate Conception involves) [as] being a piece of medieval speculation, which appears not to be in accordance with the teaching of three of the greatest 'doctors' of the faith recognised in the Roman Catholic Church itself, St. Augustine, St Bernard of Clairvaux, and, above all, St Thomas Aquinas".

The Standing Committee report comes to the conclusion that both distinctively papal dogmas rest on another error - papal infallibility. "The exercise of papal authority in relation to the two dogmas does not, in the mind of the Church of Ireland, thereby establish them either."

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