Pope warns Archbishop of Canterbury over gay clergy issue

 Pope John Paul II warned the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, that "new and serious difficulties have arisen" in relations between the two Churches. During a 15 minute audience on Saturday, which was also attended by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the frail Pope read out a statement in which he noted that the Archbishop's visit continued a tradition which began just before Vatican Council II. Dr Williams is the fourth archbishop of Canterbury whom the Holy Father has met during his pontificate, including during his 1982 visit to Canterbury. The Pope said that "the four centuries following the sad division between us, during which time there was little or no contact between our predecessors, have given away to a pattern of grace-filled meetings between the bishop of Rome, the Successor of Peter, and the archbishop of Canterbury." He pointed out that ties between the two "had their origin in the sending by Pope Gregory the Great of St. Augustine, the first archbishop of Canterbury, to the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in the late sixth century." "As we give thanks for the progress that has already been made," John Paul II continued, "we must also recognize the new and serious difficulties that have arisen on the path to unity. These difficulties are not all of a merely disciplinary nature; some extend to essential matters of faith and morals. ... Faced with the increasing secularism of today's world, the Church must ensure that the deposit of faith is proclaimed in its integrity and preserved from erroneous and misguided interpretations." The Holy Father remarked that the dialogue started by their predecessors, Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey, "was to be 'founded on the Gospels and on the ancient common traditions'; it was to be coupled with the fostering of collaboration which would 'lead to a greater understanding and a deeper charity', and the hope was expressed that with progress towards unity there might be 'a strengthening of peace in the world, the peace that only He can grant Who gives 'the peace that passeth all understanding'." John Paul II said that they must persevere in building upon the work accomplished by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) and by the Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM). "The world needs the witness of our unity, rooted in our common love for and obedience to Christ and His Gospel." "I take to heart," concluded the Pope, "that you have wished to pay a visit to me so early in your ministry as archbishop of Canterbury. We share a desire to deepen our communion. I pray for a renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon you and your family, those who travelled here with you and upon all members of the Anglican Communion." Dr Williams wore the Episcopal ring given to one of his predecessors by the late Pope Paul VI, and a gold cross which the present Pope sent him on his enthronement earlier this year. Later the Archbishop of Canterbury attended evensong at Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. During the service, Fr James Leachman OSB told ICN, Dr Williams said he had been "very moved" by his meeting with the Pope. Cardinal Walter Kasper said there were some moral and doctrinal boundaries that the Catholic Church was not able to change. "We must maintain a dialogue and cooperation of charity," he said. Source: ICN/VIS

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