Communique on the Pope’s discussions with the Archbishop of Canterbury

The Vatican Information Service has released a “communique” (not a “joint statement”) about the meeting of Pope Benedict with Archbishop Williams. My emphases and [My Comments]

“Fifty years after the first meeting of a Pope and an Archbishop of Canterbury in modern times – that of Pope John XXIII and Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher, in December 1960 – Pope Benedict XVI paid a fraternal visit to Archbishop Rowan Williams. [You have to admit that, even though the two prelates are not in communion with one another, a “fraternal visit” is a nice thing among leaders representing two bodies of Christians whose relations, for more than four centuries, had been anything but “fraternal”!]

“In the first part of their meeting they both addressed the Anglican and Roman Catholic diocesan bishops of England, Scotland and Wales, in the Great Hall of the archbishop’s library, before moving to a private meeting.

“In the course of their private conversation, they addressed many of the issues of mutual concern to Anglicans and Roman Catholics. They affirmed the need to proclaim the Gospel message of salvation in Jesus Christ, both in a reasoned and convincing way in the contemporary context of profound cultural and social transformation, and in lives of holiness and transparency to God. [That’s nice too. At least we are on the same playing ground, even if it might sometimes appear that we are playing different games.] They agreed on the importance of improving ecumenical relations and continuing theological dialogue in the face of new challenges to unity from within the Christian community and beyond it. [IOW, the more we disagree with each other, the more urgent our dialogue becomes. IOOW, we don’t give up on dialogue when issues arise that divide us.]

“The Holy Father and the Archbishop reaffirmed the importance of continuing theological dialogue on the notion of the Church as communion, local and universal, and the implications of this concept for the discernment of ethical teaching. [A lot of people have been saying that there is no point anymore to continuing dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion – most recently, Bishop Nazir-Ali. However, even though ecclesiastical union is now only a very remote possibility, dialogue on the two issues specified here (ecclesiology and ethics) will obviously help us to isolate the source and cause of the present disagreements.]

“They reflected together on the serious and difficult situation of Christians in the Middle East, and called upon all Christians to pray for their brothers and sisters and support their continued peaceful witness in the Holy Land. In the light of their recent public interventions, they also discussed the need to promote a courageous and generous engagement in the field of justice and peace, especially the needs of the poor, urging international leadership to fight hunger and disease.

“Following their meeting they travelled together to the Palace of Westminster and to evening prayer at Westminster Abbey”.

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