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
"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."