Pope Benedict and Archbishop Williams talk of differences and hopes

By staff writers
November 24, 2006

Pope Benedict and Archbishop Williams talk of differences and hopes

-24/11/06

Pope Benedict XVI, head of the worldís 1.2 billion Catholics, and Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, yesterday shared worship together at the Redemptoris Mater Chapel in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican, following a formal Audience in the Papal Library.

The global church gathered around Canterbury is a pin prick compared to the sway of the Holy See ñ just 77 million, if 24 million people in England are considered Anglicans, which many dispute.

But the influence of Anglicanism, which bridges the Catholic and Reformed traditions in a way other Protestant denominations do not, has always far exceeded its numbers.

And although Archbishop Rowan Williams is far more progressive than the former Cardinal Ratzinger, and consciously chose not to enter the Roman church, the two are predicted to develop a positive relationship.

For a start, they both have formidable intellectual pedigrees and both hold a special place in their affections for Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar. That said, Dr Williamsí familiarity with post-modern continental philosophy and his overall range of influences ñ from W. H. Auden to the Incredible String Band and way beyond, is likely to be greater.

But advisers predict that their mutual interest in Augustine and the retrieval of the scholastic tradition in a contemporary setting would ìkeep them going for everî. That said, it seems that there were more pressing and immediate concerns on the agenda ñ like women bishops and gay priests, for which the Pope has no affinity at all.

The service yesterday took the form of midday prayers with psalms sung in plainsong, in the presence of senior Vatican representatives, including Cardinal Walter Kasper and Cardinal Cormac Murphy OíConnor, and senior Anglicans including Archbishop Peter Carnely and Bishop David Beetge.

The Redemptoris Mater Chapel, formerly known as the Matilde Chapel, was rededicated by Pope John Paul II in 1999 after nearly four years of restoration work. After the liturgy, Pope Benedict hosted a private lunch for Dr Williams.

Earlier, in a Common Declaration signed by Pope Benedict and Dr Williams, the two leaders expressed thanks for forty years of cooperation and dialogue between the Roman Catholic church and the churches of the Anglican Communion and renewed the historic commitment to the goal of ëfull visible communion in the truth of Christí.

The two paid tribute to the continuing process of dialogue which had begun with the historic meeting between Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey in 1966: ìSince 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.î

As that process continues, the Declaration acknowledged, difficulties and obstacles to this goal caused by new developments within the Anglican Communion would need to be faced: ìÖ 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.î

The churches share a common witness and service, the statement said and there were issues and challenges which could be tackled jointly: ìThere 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 wellbeing of children in the context of healthy family life; in outreach to the poor, oppressed and the most vulnerable, especially those who are persecuted for their faith; in addressing the negative effects of materialism; and in 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.î

The Common Statement concluded with a reminder of the churchesí shared calling: ìConfident of the apostolic hope ìthat he who has begun this good work in you will bring it to completionî (cf. Philippians 1.6), we believe that if we can together be Godís 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.î

During the Audience, Dr Williams praised the ecumenical commitment of Pope Benedict XVI in a formal greeting presented to the Pope. He acknowledged the difficulties and obstacles to unity and said that churches were affected by each otherís troubles:

ìI 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 modern society can often obscure or even threaten the achievements of dialogue, common witness and service. In the modern 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.î

Anglicans and Roman Catholics shared a charge, he said, to serve Christ in the preaching of the Gospel: ìHowever, 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 ñ to be ambassadors for Christ ñ and I am confident that an honest exchange of our concerns will not be allowed to eclipse what we can affirm and proclaim together ñ the hope of salvation and healing found in the Grace and Love of God revealed in Christ.î

During the Audience, Dr Williams presented the Pope with a specially commissioned icon showing St Gregory and St Augustine ñ forbears of Pope and Archbishop of Canterbury respectively ñ in the presence of Christ the Saviour, Lord of the earthly and heavenly realms. The icon has been painted by Sergei Fyodoro, a Moscow-based iconographer.

Earlier in the day, Dr Williams and the Anglican Delegation said prayers in St Peterís Basilica at the Tomb of Pope John Paul II, whose funeral Dr Williams attended in 2005.

Pope Benedict and Archbishop Williams talk of differences and hopes

-24/11/06

Pope Benedict XVI, head of the worldís 1.2 billion Catholics, and Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, yesterday shared worship together at the Redemptoris Mater Chapel in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican, following a formal Audience in the Papal Library.

The global church gathered around Canterbury is a pin prick compared to the sway of the Holy See ñ just 77 million, if 24 million people in England are considered Anglicans, which many dispute.

But the influence of Anglicanism, which bridges the Catholic and Reformed traditions in a way other Protestant denominations do not, has always far exceeded its numbers.

And although Archbishop Rowan Williams is far more progressive than the former Cardinal Ratzinger, and consciously chose not to enter the Roman church, the two are predicted to develop a positive relationship.

For a start, they both have formidable intellectual pedigrees and both hold a special place in their affections for Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar. That said, Dr Williamsí familiarity with post-modern continental philosophy and his overall range of influences ñ from W. H. Auden to the Incredible String Band and way beyond, is likely to be greater.

But advisers predict that their mutual interest in Augustine and the retrieval of the scholastic tradition in a contemporary setting would ìkeep them going for everî. That said, it seems that there were more pressing and immediate concerns on the agenda ñ like women bishops and gay priests, for which the Pope has no affinity at all.

The service yesterday took the form of midday prayers with psalms sung in plainsong, in the presence of senior Vatican representatives, including Cardinal Walter Kasper and Cardinal Cormac Murphy OíConnor, and senior Anglicans including Archbishop Peter Carnely and Bishop David Beetge.

The Redemptoris Mater Chapel, formerly known as the Matilde Chapel, was rededicated by Pope John Paul II in 1999 after nearly four years of restoration work. After the liturgy, Pope Benedict hosted a private lunch for Dr Williams.

Earlier, in a Common Declaration signed by Pope Benedict and Dr Williams, the two leaders expressed thanks for forty years of cooperation and dialogue between the Roman Catholic church and the churches of the Anglican Communion and renewed the historic commitment to the goal of ëfull visible communion in the truth of Christí.

The two paid tribute to the continuing process of dialogue which had begun with the historic meeting between Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey in 1966: ìSince 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.î

As that process continues, the Declaration acknowledged, difficulties and obstacles to this goal caused by new developments within the Anglican Communion would need to be faced: ìÖ 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.î

The churches share a common witness and service, the statement said and there were issues and challenges which could be tackled jointly: ìThere 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 wellbeing of children in the context of healthy family life; in outreach to the poor, oppressed and the most vulnerable, especially those who are persecuted for their faith; in addressing the negative effects of materialism; and in 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.î

The Common Statement concluded with a reminder of the churchesí shared calling: ìConfident of the apostolic hope ìthat he who has begun this good work in you will bring it to completionî (cf. Philippians 1.6), we believe that if we can together be Godís 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.î

During the Audience, Dr Williams praised the ecumenical commitment of Pope Benedict XVI in a formal greeting presented to the Pope. He acknowledged the difficulties and obstacles to unity and said that churches were affected by each otherís troubles:

ìI 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 modern society can often obscure or even threaten the achievements of dialogue, common witness and service. In the modern 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.î

Anglicans and Roman Catholics shared a charge, he said, to serve Christ in the preaching of the Gospel: ìHowever, 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 ñ to be ambassadors for Christ ñ and I am confident that an honest exchange of our concerns will not be allowed to eclipse what we can affirm and proclaim together ñ the hope of salvation and healing found in the Grace and Love of God revealed in Christ.î

During the Audience, Dr Williams presented the Pope with a specially commissioned icon showing St Gregory and St Augustine ñ forbears of Pope and Archbishop of Canterbury respectively ñ in the presence of Christ the Saviour, Lord of the earthly and heavenly realms. The icon has been painted by Sergei Fyodoro, a Moscow-based iconographer.

Earlier in the day, Dr Williams and the Anglican Delegation said prayers in St Peterís Basilica at the Tomb of Pope John Paul II, whose funeral Dr Williams attended in 2005.

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