Catholic World News

Archbishop of Canterbury says he's reassured after meeting with Pope

November 23, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI met on November 21 with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams. It was their first meeting since the October announcement of the Pope's plans to welcome Anglicans into the Catholic Church.

However, a brief Vatican announcement released after the meeting made no mention of the Pope's apostolic constitution, saying only that the "cordial discussions" had involved "the challenges facing all Christian communities at the beginning of this millennium." The Vatican statement did say that the Pope had spoken with Dr. Williams about Catholic-Anglican relations, but stressed "the shared will to continue and consolidate the ecumenical relationship," especially through the work of the official ARCIC dialogue.

In his own remarks after the meeting at the apostolic palace, Dr. Williams took a similar line. He said that he had felt obligated to tell the Pontiff that the October announcement had put him "in an awkward position for a time," and embarrassed many Anglican leaders. He said those complaints were "expressed and heard in a very friendly spirit" during his talk with the Pope.

More importantly, Dr. Williams said, he received assurances that although the Pope thought it wise to issue a warm invitation to Anglicans to enter the Catholic Church, that policy "did not represent any change in the Vatican's attitude toward the Anglican communion as such."

Meanwhile in related news, British reports indicated that the Catholic bishops of England and Wales have established a special task force to handle the cases of thousands of Anglicans who are expected to seek entrance into the Catholic Church. The Anglican Bishop John Broadhurst, chairman of the traditionalist group Forward in Faith, said that his group included 1,000 Anglican clerics who were likely to accept the Pope's invitation. Legal questions about the ownership of parish properties could pose the greatest complications.


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