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Rome and Canterbury: The Elusive Search for Unity [Hardcover]

By Mary Reath (Author)
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Item description for Rome and Canterbury: The Elusive Search for Unity by Mary Reath...

Although the history of the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches is a long and tumultuous one, Reath believes that the 500-year-old split between these prominent faiths can be healed. She offers her unique and positive perspective on the past, present, and future of these two churches.

Publishers Description
Rome and Canterbury tells the story of the determined but little known work being done to end the nearly five hundred year old divisions between the Roman Catholic and the Anglican/Episcopal Churches. The break was never intended, has never been fully accepted and is experienced, by many, as a painful and open wound. It is a personal account, by a non-professional, that begins the story by reviewing the relevant history and theology, looks at where we are today, and concludes with some personal reflections on faith and belief in the US.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Rome and Canterbury: The Elusive Search for Unity by Mary Reath has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Library Journal - 10/15/2007 page 73

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Pages   160
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.24" Width: 6.32" Height: 0.76"
Weight:   0.86 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Sep 1, 2007
Publisher   Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
ISBN  0742552780  
ISBN13  9780742552784  

Availability  0 units.

More About Mary Reath

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Mary Reath has been active in the Episcopal Church, serving on the vestries of Trinity Church, Wall Street (NYC) and St. Luke in the Fields, Greenwich Village (NYC). While working on this book, she was a visiting scholar at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, MA. She is currently a governor of the Anglican Centre in Rome. She is s the editor of Public Lives, Private Prayers (Sorin Books, 2001). She lives in Princeton, NJ.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > Roman Catholicism
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > General
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Protestantism > Anglican
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Ecumenism

Christian Product Categories
Books > General Interest > Other Religion > Comparative Religions

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Reviews - What do customers think about Rome and Canterbury: The Elusive Search for Unity?

Dreaming About Reunion  Nov 26, 2007
Reviewed by Dr. Michael Philliber for Reader Views (11/07)

When dealing with a subject as large as the reunion between the Roman Catholic Church (Rome) and the Worldwide Anglican Communion (Canterbury), it is helpful for a writer to have some firsthand experience and knowledge of the situation, as well as the parties involved. Likewise, it is beneficial for the author to have a personal enthusiasm for the subject. Mary Reath has the experience, and in her short book, "Rome & Canterbury: The Elusive Search for Unity," she displays an operational knowledge of both camps. Equally, Reath also has a passionate desire to be part of bringing that reunion to completion. In her own words she states, "Seeking oneness is not an optional extra, but rather learning and receiving from each other is a divine imperative. Ecumenism is the future of Christianity" (96).

Mary Reath has written this book for the average member of both communions. She believes that most of those members have very little idea of what has been developing in the dialogues for reunion. She not only believes that providing an informative little book is a nice thing to do, but that it will help to move the reunion forward. "[...] a paper reunion would be meaningless. In the end without the laity involved this will never happen" (xvii). Her approach to reach this goal is to rehearse the history of how Rome and Canterbury got this divided point, and what are the major hurdles to reunion.

Reath's historical recitation is readable and informative, especially as she describes the early attempts at addressing reunion between Rome and Canterbury. I would imagine that most folks would be surprised to find that in the late 19th Century there was an attempt to have Rome recognize Anglican orders as valid, and Rome declared them "absolutely null and void" (30). But other attempts have been more successful and have left behind some promising results. Reath recounts the fairly successful work of the Anglican/Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) and the various agreed upon statements addressing topics such as the Eucharist, Ministry and Authority. It is in the middle of her historical recounting of ARCIC that Reath addresses what she considers as the major hurdle: the doctrine of Papal Infallibility.

In chapter seven, Reath narrates the story behind the way in which Papal Infallibility came about, and its relationship to the primacy of the Pope. This chapter, rather than being laborious, is easy to read and grasp because Reath has done a fine job of boiling the major points down to the easily comprehensible. Papal infallibility is limited to faith or morals, and is a declarative event of that which is "explicitly and authoritatively the truth that already exists for the church" (56), and is something held by the whole church. As helpful as her presentation of this delicate matter is, there is an unhelpful idealism in this chapter which pops up in other parts of the book as well. Reath seems to miss the point that the `whole church' mentioned in the 1870 document on infallibility from Vatican I, Pastor Aeternus, is limited to the Roman Catholic Church, and does not necessarily include the Eastern Orthodox Church nor any branch of Protestantism in that phrase `the whole church.' It seems to me that this little glitch muddles up some of her desired conclusions in this chapter and other places in the book.

Reath has provided a number of helpful appendices which address several of the ARCIC documents. Instead of quoting those documents in full, she has done quite a bit of the hard labor of culling through them and bringing out their salient points, coupled with her analysis.
One of the distractions in the book happens to be more with the format than the content. The blocked paragraphs seem easy on the eyes, but the fact that there are no indentions to tell you when you have approached a new paragraph is rather irritating.

Though at various points the book can read like a propaganda piece for ARCIC or Archbishop Rowan Williams, nevertheless, it is comprehensible, informative, and insightful with regard to the dialogue between Canterbury and Rome. If someone is looking for solid background information to that dialogue and the major hurdles that are restricting a reunion, "Rome & Canterbury: The Elusive Search for Unity"is a good starting point.

Fine Overview of Key Ecumemical Effort  Oct 13, 2007
From the time of Vatican II, Anglicans and Roman Catholics have held intense, ongoing discussions aimed at clarifying their differences and seeking common ground for reunification at some, as yet unspecified, level. While the popular press focuses on new controversies and stumbling blocks, panels of scholars from the respective churches nonetheless have produced a remarkable series of agreed statements that give much hope to the ecumenically-minded.

Mary Reath has a foot in both traditions, with close personal ties to both the U.S. Episcopal Church and the Roman Catholic Church. As a board member of the Anglican Centre in Rome, and as head of its support group in the U.S., she is an important player in facilitating this interchurch dialogue. In this tightly-written volume for the general reader, she combines a remarkable array of important but little-known historical facts about the respective churches, a survey of past attempts at dialogue and possible reunion, and a more detailed discussion of the current ecumenical effort. She also offers her own reflections, observations and concerns, making this an invaluable guide to the topic. An excellent companion volume, for those wanting to learn more, is Anglicans in Rome by Frederick M. Bliss.

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