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Archbishop of Canterbury: Anglican ordinariates not an ‘aggressive act’

Catholic World News - November 18, 2010

The spiritual head of the Anglican Communion has told Vatican Radio that he did not view Pope Benedict’s decision to establish Anglican ordinariates for the reception of Anglican communities into the Catholic Church as an “aggressive act.”

Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury was in Rome on November 17 to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Blessed John XXIII’s decision to establish Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity. In 1989, the dicastery was renamed the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Commenting on the decision of five Anglican bishops to join the new Anglican ordinariate in England, he said:

Obviously my reactions to the resignations is one of regret but respect-- I know the considerations they’ve been through, particular the two who were my suffragans, we’ve talked about it, we’ve worked through it and parted with prayers and blessings so there’s no ill feeling there. I think the challenge will come in working out shared use of churches, of how we as Anglicans “recommend” people and also of course there will be some parishes without priests so we have a practical challenge here and there.

Asked to comment on the Pope’s description of Anglican ordinariates as a “prophetic gesture,” Archbishop Williams added:

Well I think if the ordinariate helps people evaluate Anglican legacy or patrimony, well and good, I’m happy to praise God for it. I don’t see it as an aggressive act, meant to destabilize the relations of the churches and it remains to be seen just how large a movement we’re talking about. But prophetic? Maybe yes, in the sense that here is the Roman Catholic Church saying there are ways of being Christian in the Western Church which are not restricted by historic Roman Catholic identity-- that’s something we can talk about

The Anglican primate also noted that “Christians are drawn closer together than in any other circumstances when they face persecution-- in Iraq, Pakistan, Indonesia, Orissa, or Rajasthan, Christians under pressure don’t have the luxury of waiting to stand together until they’ve sorted everything out. I [recently] met firsthand with a number of people on the receiving end of violence-- a woman who’d seen her husband tortured to death in front of her for refusing to abandon his Christian faith-- that’s simply a moment when you realize what the basic truths are.”

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