Skip to comments.Pope, Anglican leader commit to dialogue
Posted on 11/23/2006 5:30:08 PM PST by NYer
Pope Benedict XVI and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams acknowledged Thursday that there were "serious obstacles" on the path to closer ties between Catholics and Anglicans, reflecting tensions over Anglicans' blessings of same-sex unions and steps to ordain female bishops.
The leaders of the two churches, in a joint statement issued after 25 minutes of private talks, said they said they were committing themselves to continuing dialogue. The two men then prayed together in a chapel in the Apostolic palace.
Williams told the pope in a speech that "disputes about how we apply the Gospel to the challenges thrown up by modern society can often obscure or even threaten the achievements of dialogue" but that he came, "ready to hear and to understand the concerns which you will wish to share with me."
Benedict, while not spelling out the disputes in his speech, appeared to refer to them when he spoke of "the strains and difficulties besetting the Anglican Communion and consequently about the uncertainty of the communion itself."
"Recent developments, especially concerning the ordained ministry and certain moral teachings, have affected not only internal relations with the Anglican Communion but also relations between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church," Benedict told Williams.
Their meeting today marked the 40th anniversary of landmark efforts to improve relations between the two churches, which went their separate ways in the 16th century, when England's King Henry VIII split from the Roman Catholic Church.
The world's 77 million Anglicans including those known as Episcopalians in the United States have themselves been threatened with internal division after the elevation in 2003 in the United States of the first openly gay Anglican bishop.
Blessings of unions between men or between women in the United States and Canada have also jolted Anglican-Catholic relations. Also testing relationships, among Anglicans themselves and with Catholics, have been moves by the Episcopal church to select a woman as its leader.
Benedict appeared to be referring to the disputes when he told Williams in his speech: "We believe that these matters, which are presently under discussion with in the Anglican Communion, are of vital importance to the preaching of the Gospel in its integrity, and that your current discussions will shape the future of our relations."
"We fervently hope that the Anglican Communion will remain grounded in the Gospels and the Apostolic tradition," the pope said.
The Catholic Church teaches that, while homosexuals should be treated with dignity, homosexual acts are sinful, and it is campaigning against same-sex unions. It also opposes ordination of women.
Pope Benedict XVI and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams sign a joint statement after 25 minutes of private talks during their meeting at the Vatican Thursday, Nov. 23, 2006. They acknowledged there were 'serious obstacles' on the path to closer ties between Catholics and Anglicans, reflecting tensions over Anglicans' blessings of same-sex unions and the ordination of women and decided to commit themselves to continuing dialogue. (AP Photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Pool)
From ZENIT NEWS AGENCY
Joint Declaration of Benedict XVI and Rowan Williams
"Many Areas of Witness and Service in Which We Can Stand Together"
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 23, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the Joint Declaration of the Anglican archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and Benedict XVI, which they signed today in the Vatican.
* * *
of Pope Benedict XVI and the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams
Forty years ago, our predecessors, Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey, met together in this city sanctified by the ministry and the blood of the Apostles Peter and Paul. They began a new journey of reconciliation based on the Gospels and the ancient common traditions. Centuries of estrangement between Anglicans and Catholics were replaced by a new desire for partnership and co-operation, as the real but incomplete communion we share was rediscovered and affirmed. Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Ramsey undertook at that time to establish a dialogue in which matters which had been divisive in the past might be addressed from a fresh perspective with truth and love.
Since that meeting, the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion have entered into a process of fruitful dialogue, which has been marked by the discovery of significant elements of shared faith and a desire to give expression, through joint prayer, witness and service, to that which we hold in common. Over thirty-five years, the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) has produced a number of important documents which seek to articulate the faith we share. In the ten years since the most recent Common Declaration was signed by the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury, the second phase of ARCIC has completed its mandate, with the publication of the documents "The Gift of Authority" (1999) and "Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ" (2005). We are grateful to the theologians who have prayed and worked together in the preparation of these texts, which await further study and reflection.
True ecumenism goes beyond theological dialogue; it touches our spiritual lives and our common witness. As our dialogue has developed, many Catholics and Anglicans have found in each other a love for Christ which invites us into practical co-operation and service. This fellowship in the service of Christ, experienced by many of our communities around the world, adds a further impetus to our relationship. The International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) has been engaged in an exploration of the appropriate ways in which our shared mission to proclaim new life in Christ to the world can be advanced and nurtured. Their report, which sets out both a summary of the central conclusions of ARCIC and makes proposals for growing together in mission and witness, has recently been completed and submitted for review to the Anglican Communion Office and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and we express our gratitude for their work.
In this fraternal visit, we celebrate the good which has come from these four decades of dialogue. We are grateful to God for the gifts of grace which have accompanied them. At the same time, our long journey together makes it necessary to acknowledge publicly the challenge represented by new developments which, besides being divisive for Anglicans, present serious obstacles to our ecumenical progress. It is a matter of urgency, therefore, that in renewing our commitment to pursue the path towards full visible communion in the truth and love of Christ, we also commit ourselves in our continuing dialogue to address the important issues involved in the emerging ecclesiological and ethical factors making that journey more difficult and arduous.
As Christian leaders facing the challenges of the new millennium, we affirm again our public commitment to the revelation of divine life uniquely set forth by God in the divinity and humanity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. We believe that it is through Christ and the means of salvation found in him that healing and reconciliation are offered to us and to the world.
There are many areas of witness and service in which we can stand together, and which indeed call for closer co-operation between us: the pursuit of peace in the Holy Land and in other parts of the world marred by conflict and the threat of terrorism; promoting respect for life from conception until natural death; protecting the sanctity of marriage and the well-being of children in the context of healthy family life; outreach to the poor, oppressed and the most vulnerable, especially those who are persecuted for their faith; addressing the negative effects of materialism; and care for creation and for our environment. We also commit ourselves to inter-religious dialogue through which we can jointly reach out to our non-Christian brothers and sisters.
Mindful of our forty years of dialogue, and of the witness of the holy men and women common to our traditions, including Mary the Theotókos, Saints Peter and Paul, Benedict, Gregory the Great, and Augustine of Canterbury, we pledge ourselves to more fervent prayer and a more dedicated endeavor to welcome and live by that truth into which the Spirit of the Lord wishes to lead his disciples (cf. Jn 16:13). Confident of the apostolic hope "that he who has begun this good work in you will bring it to completion" (cf. Phil 1:6), we believe that if we can together be God's instruments in calling all Christians to a deeper obedience to our Lord, we will also draw closer to each other, finding in his will the fullness of unity and common life to which he invites us.
From the Vatican, 23 November 2006
[Original text: English]
From Zenit News Agency
Papal Address to Archbishop of Canterbury
"Hope That the Anglican Communion Will Remain Grounded in the Gospels"
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 23, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today during his audience to the primate of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, England.
* * *
Grace and peace to you in the Lord Jesus Christ! Your visit here today brings to mind the important custom established by our predecessors in recent decades. It also reminds us of the much longer history of relations between the See of Rome and the See of Canterbury which began when Pope Gregory the Great sent Saint Augustine to the land of the Anglo-Saxons over 1400 years ago. I am happy today to welcome you and the distinguished delegation accompanying you. This is not our first meeting. Indeed, I was grateful for your presence, and that of other representatives of the Anglican Communion, at the funeral of Pope John Paul II, and again at the inauguration of my pontificate a year and a half ago.
Your visit to the Holy See coincides with the fortieth anniversary of the visit of the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Michael Ramsey, to Pope Paul VI. It was a visit filled with great promise, as the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church took steps towards initiating a dialogue about the questions to be addressed in the search for full visible unity.
There is much in our relations over the past forty years for which we must give thanks. The work of the theological dialogue commission has been a source of encouragement as matters of doctrine which have separated us in the past have been addressed. The friendship and good relations which exist in many places between Anglicans and Catholics have helped to create a new context in which our shared witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been nourished and advanced. The visits of Archbishops of Canterbury to the Holy See have served to strengthen those relations and have played an important role in addressing the obstacles which keep us apart. This tradition helped give rise to a constructive meeting of Anglican and Catholic bishops in Mississauga, Canada, in May 2000, when it was agreed to form a joint commission of bishops to discern appropriate ways to express in ecclesial life the progress which has already been made. For all of this, we give thanks to God.
In the present context, however, and especially in the secularized Western world, there are many negative influences and pressures which affect Christians and Christian communities. Over the last three years you have spoken openly about the strains and difficulties besetting the Anglican Communion and consequently about the uncertainty of the future of the Communion itself. Recent developments, especially concerning the ordained ministry and certain moral teachings, have affected not only internal relations within the Anglican Communion but also relations between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church. We believe that these matters, which are presently under discussion within the Anglican Communion, are of vital importance to the preaching of the Gospel in its integrity, and that your current discussions will shape the future of our relations. It is to be hoped that the work of the theological dialogue, which had registered no small degree of agreement on these and other important theological matters, will continue [to] be taken seriously in your discernment. In these deliberations we accompany you with heartfelt prayer. It is our fervent hope that the Anglican Communion will remain grounded in the Gospels and the Apostolic Tradition which form our common patrimony and are the basis of our common aspiration to work for full visible unity.
The world needs our witness and the strength which comes from an undivided proclamation of the Gospel. The immense sufferings of the human family and the forms of injustice that adversely affect the lives of so many people constitute an urgent call for our shared witness and service. Precisely for this reason, and even amidst present difficulties, it is important that we continue our theological dialogue. I hope that your visit will assist in finding constructive ways forward in the current circumstances.
May the Lord continue to bless you and your family, and may he strengthen you in your ministry to the Anglican Communion!
[Original text: English]
From Zenit News Agency
Anglican's Address to Benedict XVI
"Path to Unity Is Not an Easy One"
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 23, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address of the primate of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, to Benedict XVI during the archbishop's visit today to the Holy See.
* * *
It gives me great pleasure to be able to greet you in this city, which was sanctified in the very early days of the Christian era by the ministry of the Apostles Peter and Paul, and from which so many of your predecessors have borne noble witness to the transforming Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Early in my ministry as Archbishop of Canterbury, I was able to visit your much loved and venerated predecessor, Pope John Paul II, and to bring to him the greetings of the worldwide Anglican family of churches of some eighty million Christians. Pope John Paul had inspired many throughout the world by his dedication to Christ, and, as you know, had won a special place in the hearts of many beyond the Roman Catholic Church by the compassion and steadfastness revealed in his ministry to all.
As we meet on this occasion, we are also recalling and celebrating the visit forty years ago of my predecessor Archbishop Michael Ramsey to Pope Paul VI, when this encounter between the leaders of the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches initiated a process of reconciliation and friendship which has continued to this day. The ring that I wear today is the episcopal ring which Pope Paul gave to Archbishop Michael, this cross the gift from Pope John Paul II, symbolic of our shared commitment to work together for the full visible unity of the Christian family.
It is in that same fraternal spirit that I make this visit now, since the journey of friendship that they began is one that I believe that we should continue together. I have been heartened by the way in which from the very beginning of your ministry as Bishop of Rome, you have stressed the importance of ecumenism in your own ministry. If the Good News of Jesus Christ is to be fully proclaimed to a needy world, then the reconciliation of all Christians in the truth and love of God is a vital element for our witness.
I say this, conscious that the path to unity is not an easy one, and that disputes about how we apply the Gospel to the challenges thrown up by modem society can often obscure or even threaten the achievements of dialogue, common witness and service. In the modem world, no part of the Christian family acts without profound impact on our ecumenical partners; only a firm foundation of friendship in Christ will enable us to be honest in speaking to one another about those difficulties, and discerning a way forward which seeks to be wholly faithful to the charge laid upon us as disciples of Christ. I come here today, therefore, to celebrate the ongoing partnership between Anglicans and Roman Catholics, but also ready to hear and to understand the concerns which you will wish to share with me.
However, there is a task which is laid upon us both as pastors of the Christian family: to be advocates of reconciliation, justice and compassion in this world -- to be ambassadors for Christ -- and I am confident that an honest exchange of our concerns will not be allowed to eclipse what we can affirm and proclaim together -- the hope of salvation and healing found in the Grace and Love of God revealed in Christ.
[Original text: English]
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