This piece, which I reproduce unchanged, first appeared 22/12/2009. I can't help feeling that it has a curious relevance to the situation in Pope Francis' Catholic Church in this period 'between the Synods'. ARCIC is the ecumenical talking-shop maintained by the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.
New ARCIC is to discuss: "fundamental questions concerning the Church - local Church and universal Church - understood as Communion, and on the way in which the local and the universal Church can, in communion, discern just moral teaching".
How very admirable. It facilitates a discussion on the very topical question of the relationship between local and universal, which is not only relevant to the problems of the Anglican Communion and the problems between the Anglican Communion and the RC Church, but was also the subject of that rather acrimonious spat between Ratzinger and Kasper not long before the Conclave. Although there is something a trifle surreal about using ARCIC to get involved in a difference of opinion between a reigning pontiff and one of his senior Cardinals!
And it enables frank discussion to take place about ethical questions which some Anglican provinces have deemed to be within the power of their provincial Autonomy to decide.
I recall, perhaps as long ago as the 1980s, writing an article arguing that, if Rome had any sense, she would require ARCIC, instead of picking over sixteenth century disagreements that comparatively few people care about, to engage with the newly emerging areas of disagreement, particularly 'life' issues and sexual matters.