2009-10-31 13:12:11

Pope Benedict XVI to meet Anglican chief Archbishop Williams

(October 31, 2009) Pope Benedict XVI will meet with the Archbishop of Canterbury next month in the leaders' first encounter since the Catholic Church moved to make it easier for disenchanted Anglicans to convert to Catholicism, a Vatican spokesman said Friday. Archbishop Rowan Williams, the Anglican leader, was already due to visit Rome in November for ceremonies at a pontifical university to honour a late cardinal who worked for Christian unity, said the spokesman, the Father Federico Lombardi, Director General of Vatican Radio. Taking advantage of the archbishop's presence in Rome, Pope Benedict will receive Archbishop Williams on November 21 at the Vatican, Father Lombardi said in a telephone interview. The Vatican's move, announced last week, to ease Anglican conversions to Catholicism is designed to entice traditionalists opposed to women bishops, openly gay clergy and the blessing of same-sex unions in the church headed by Williams. Given the surprise overture to potential converts, the talks between Pope Benedict and Archbishop Williams «take on a particularly important significance,» said Father Lombardi. But he stressed that the Archbishop has met with the pontiff during past trips to Rome and indicated that the two would have likely met even without the recent developments. The Anglican Church is grappling with deep doctrinal divisions that threaten to cause a permanent schism among its faithful. The Vatican move means conservative Anglicans worldwide can become Catholics while maintaining aspects of Anglican liturgy and identify, including married priests. Pope Benedict has made efforts aimed at Christian unity a priority of his pontificate.

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