The Catholic University of America

Final Examination of

Elizabeth Smith

for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy



Ecclesiology and Ecumenism: Recent Anglican-Lutheran Agreements on Episcopacy from a Catholic Perspective

Director: Dr. Michael Root


In the 1990s, various Lutheran and Anglican churches in Europe and North America entered into full communion on the basis of agreements which overcame their previous differences over episcopacy and historic succession.  While these agreements have been the subject of intense scrutiny in these churches, they have received little attention from Catholic theologians.The purpose of this dissertation is to analyze and evaluate these agreements on episcopacy from a Catholic perspective, asking if the Catholic Church can glean any theological or methodological wisdom from them in her own ecumenical discussions. Chapter one begins with a brief discussion of the ecumenical imperative for the Catholic Church, with special attention to the theology of Karl Rahner, Heinrich Fries, and Unitatis Redintegratio. Chapter two looks historically at the topic of apostolic succession and at the many conversations held between the Anglican and Lutheran communions on this topic. This chapter aims to provide important contextual information for analyzing the primary documents. Chapter three, then, surveys the primary documents that arose out of the discussions between Anglican and Lutheran communions in the U.S., Canada, and Northern Europe that led to full communion. It traces the development of central themes that often run between several or all documents. Chapter four discusses the reception history and evaluation of the primary documents as well as their implementation. Chapter five offers a Catholic perspective, evaluating the extent to which these documents prove helpful to the Catholic Church in her ecumenical endeavors with regard to the historic episcopate.

More About Smith

Elizabeth Smith graduated from Regis College with a double major in theology and music in 2004. She received a Master of Divinity from Boston University in 2009. Also from Boston University in 2009, she received a Master of Sacred music with a concentration in choral conducting. Elizabeth completed the requirements for the Master of Philosophy at Catholic University in 2013. A native of Melrose, Massachusetts, she has served as a church and collegiate choral director since 2004. She has taught theology and religious studies as well as directed the collegiate and alumni choral ensembles and handbell choir at Regis College since 2014. She has also, since 2016, served as pastoral associate at Holy Family Parish in Concord, MA. Elizabeth is a composer of choral and orchestral music, and her works have been performed at universities and churches throughout the east coast. Her work in church and collegiate settings enables her to use her areas of study in sacred music and theology in an interdisciplinary manner to the benefit of her students and parishioners.