Canterbury Archbishop and Benedict recommit to "arduous" journey

In a historic meeting yesterday, Canterbury Archbishop Rowan Williams and Pope Benedict have insisted on the need to deepen Anglican-Catholic dialogue and to "stand together" on Middle East peace and the negative impacts of materialism.

The two leaders signed a Common Declaration following a 15 minute Rome meeting yesterday in which they said it was a matter of urgency that talks continue on issues which divide them, BBC News reports.

The statement comes amid concerns in the Catholic Church over possible women bishops and gay Anglican bishops.

"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," the Declaration says.

"It is a matter of urgency, therefore, that ... 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."

The statement also called for the two churches to stand together over issues including the "pursuit of peace in the Holy Land" and the "negative effects of materialism".

The Declaration reads: "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."

It also made a commitment to talk to other religions and "reach out to our non-Christian brothers and sisters".

After the formal audience, the religious leaders shared worship together at the Vatican.

Dr Williams later said it had been a "very warm meeting" and stressed the importance of his relationship with the Pope.

"I think if we are not able to understand where each other is coming from in terms of our thoughts about God, our thoughts about the church, our thoughts about our vocation, then really a great deal of the negotiating and the fine detail and fine tuning has been a waste of time.

"I think we need to understand each other as fellow pastors and fellow teachers in the church. I think this morning is a great step towards that."

The Common Declaration was issued to mark the 40th anniversary of the historic 1966 encounter between Pope Paul VI and Anglican Archbishop Ramsey, AsiaNews.

Archbishop of Canterbury and Pope Benedict XVI (BBC News, 23/11/06)
Peace in Holy Land, shared commitment towards unity of Catholics and Anglicans (AsiaNews, 23/11/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Anglican - Roman Catholic International Commission
Archbishop of Canterbury

British Anglican and Catholic bishops in historic meet (CathNews, 16/11/06)
Cardinal tells Anglicans that women bishops would destroy unity (CathNews 8/6/06)
Anglican women bishops dash unity hopes: Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor (CathNews, 15/6/06)

24 Nov 2006