If I understand him correctly, Bishop Epting has single handedly established an entirely new goal for the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission. Formerly, the agreed goal was church unity. For example, Salvation and the Church states “The purpose of our dialogue is the restoration of full ecclesial communion between us. Our work has recalled for us still wider perspectives not only the unity of all Christian people but the fulfilment of all things in Christ.” (SECOND ANGLICAN/ROMAN CATHOLIC INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION, Llandaff, 3 September 1986 , Feast of St Gregory the Great.) Now, with the click of the keyboard, the goal of genuine ecumenical dialogue has become “ecumenical conversation.” Now that we are clear on that point, the achievements of the ecumenical dialogue can become more easily measured. We came, we talked, we adjourned.
Perhaps, in readjusting the goal of ecumenical conversation, Bishop Epting has also erased the necessity for taking concrete steps toward that goal. Formerly, Anglicanorum Coetibus could easily have been recognized as an interim step toward unity. “The Malta Report of 1968 envisaged the coming together of the Roman Catholic church and the churches of the Anglican Communion in terms of "unity by stages". (The Authority of the Church I, 1976) If “full ecclesial communion” is no longer the goal, having been replaced by “ecumenical conversation,” then concrete interim steps can replaced by having little chats and keepings minutes no one will read.
It is quite bracing to hear such a clear rebuke to violations of true dialogue. After all, why shouldn’t the ecumenical officer of the Episcopal Church, which has rushed ahead with one-sided innovations time after time, without consultation with dialogue partners and in violation of previous agreements, get his nose out of joint when the Catholic Church takes a concrete step toward the agreed upon goal? Oops, I forgot, Bishop Epting has changed the goal. With such a clear rebuke, the Catholic Church is certain to repent."