Monday, May 05, 2008

Peter and Augustine

For the second time in the last 18 months -- and only the sixth time since 1960 -- the Pope received the archbishop of Canterbury earlier today as Rowan Williams had a 20-minute sit-down with B16:
[The duo] discussed Christian-Muslim relations, inter-faith dialogue and the Pope's impression of his visit to the United States last month.

He described the visit, the second official meeting between the Pope and the spiritual leader of the world's 77 million Anglicans, as "warm and friendly".

In March Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the Vatican's top man for relations with Islam, criticized Williams as mistaken and "naive" for suggesting that it was unavoidable that some aspects of Sharia, Islamic law, would be adopted in Britain.

Williams's remarks, in a speech in February, sparked a storm in Britain and beyond and became part of a broader debate on how to integrate Britain's 1.8 million Muslims....

Relations between the Catholic and Anglican Churches have been strained over the past decade over the issue of women priests and homosexual bishops in the Anglican Church, which both leaders have acknowledged as obstacles to unity.
Unlike the present tandem's first Vatican summit on Thanksgiving Day 2006, today's visit took on a much quieter tone. No statement has yet been issued by the Holy See, and Pope and Primate didn't join in formal, public prayer this time.

Within his own communion, Williams faces the specter of this July's Lambeth Conference -- the decennial meeting of global Anglicanism's bishops -- which is expected to see fierce disputes over the blessing of same-sex couples and the consecration of Gene Robinson, the openly gay bishop of New Hampshire, who has gone uninvited to the conference in the archbishop's hope of tamping down on the tensions.

In an interview with Vatican Radio broadcast earlier today, the primate said he hoped to update Benedict on the Lambeth plans, and "touch base with him about China." On Wednesday, Williams will preside at a service installing the new head of Rome's Anglican Centre, Dr David Richardson, whose role includes standing as the church of England's formal representative to the Holy See.

Richardson's installation will be held in the Basilica of S. Maria Sopra Minerva, the Roman church entrusted to the Catholic primate of England and Wales, the archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor.

SVILUPPO: In a sign of the Vatican's support for Williams amid the "battle for Anglican unity," a key Roman hand will be appearing at Lambeth:
As the Archbishop of Canterbury arrived in Rome yesterday for a private meeting with the Pope, it was announced that Cardinal Ivan Dias, the Indian prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, would be among the speakers at this summer's event, which brings Anglican bishops together in London once every 10 years....

Cardinal Walter Kasper, head of the pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, may also attend the Lambeth event....

Rev Keith Pecklers, a professor of liturgy at the Gregorian University in Rome, who has worked with the Anglican Centre in Rome on relations between the two churches, said: "Cardinal Kasper might be expected to attend, given his role, but Cardinal Dias's presence is proof that the Vatican wants to be supportive of Williams.

"The message is 'We're in this together and we are ecumenical partners, even if there are issues on which we disagree quite clearly,' " he added.

The meeting follows criticism by Vatican officials of Williams for suggesting that some aspects of sharia law in Britain were unavoidable.

But despite his conservative views on women priests and homosexuality, Pope Benedict appears determined to bolster Williams's leadership in the name of Anglican unity.
PHOTO: Reuters