The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission met for the first time in January 1970, and published its Final Report in 1981.

Aims and method

"From the beginning we were determined, in accordance with our mandate, and in the spirit of Philippians 3:13, ‘forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead', to discover each other's faith as it is today and to appeal to history only for enlightenment, not as a way of perpetuating past controversy."

Introduction:  The foundational theme - Church as koinonia

Koinonia, communion, is the fundamental nature of the Church, its reality, its essence. It refers to the life of the Holy Trinity, the three persons with love pulsating between them. It is through our baptism that we are brought into relationship with the three persons of the Trinity, that we are brought into a new relationship with one another and become members of the body of Christ, the Church. The Church is therefore not primarily an organisational institution. It is divine reality and because it is grounded in the life of the Trinity, it is relational. It is persons in relation with one another because they are in relation with Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The understanding of the Church as communion is what holds the three parts of the Final Report together.
  • The Eucharist is the effectual sign of the koinonia: it builds up and nurtures koinonia and by the Eucharist all the baptised are brought into koinonia with the one who destroyed all the dividing walls.
  • Episcope: the ministry of oversight serves the koinonia.
  • Primacy is necessary between all of those exercising episcope. All the ministers of the Gospel need to be in communion with one another, for the Church is a communion of local churches.
The Church, as koinonia, requires visible expression. Because the Church is called to be both the sign of God’s purpose realised in the world by grace and also the instrument for the accomplishment of this purpose, the Church is sacrament of God’s presence in the world.

The Church is the community of those reconciled with God and with each other because it is the community of those who believe in Jesus Christ and are justified through God’s grace. As the reconciled community it is to be the reconciling community, because it has been called to bring to all mankind through the preaching of the Gospel, God’s gracious offer of redemption.

If Anglicans and Roman Catholics have received the same Word, if we have received the same baptism, we cannot acquiesce in disunity. Unity is of the essence of the Church and since the Church is a visible reality, its unity must be visible. Full visible communion requires mutual recognition of sacraments and ministry, together with the common acceptance of a universal primacy at one with the episcopal college in the service of koinonia.

The documents

Eucharistic Doctrine  1971        Elucidation  1979
Ministry and Ordination  1973      Elucidation  1979
Authority in the Church I   1976      Authority in the Church II  1981       Elucidation
THE FINAL REPORT  1981 (pdf)

Chairmen and membership
The Most Revd Henry McAdoo, Archbishop of Dublin (Anglican Co-Chairman)
The Rt Revd Alan Clark, Bishop of East Anglia (Roman Catholic Co-Chairman)