Friday, 24 November 2006

reports from Rome

First published Tuesday; updated each day since

Tuesday items

BBC Archbishop begins Vatican visit
Reuters Anglican leader: Don’t panic about immigrants
The Times Ruth Gledhill Archbishop - terrorism down to poverty and ABC in Rome: Let’s all live under Benedict’s Rule

Wednesday additions

Lambeth Palace press release Archbishop- St Benedict challenges modern civilisation to ask itself what it is for and full text of Tuesday’s Speech given at St Anselmo in Rome - ‘Benedict and the future of Europe’

ACNS Archbishop and Cardinal Pray in the Sistine Chapel

Vatican Radio interview with Bill Franklin and another one with Fred Bliss.

Thursday additions

More, including some video, from Ruth Gledhill here.

Lambeth Palace press release Archbishop and Pope share worship: ‘our churches share witness and service’
Archbishop’s greeting to Pope Benedict (full text)
ACNS copy of the press release with several pictures and additional material
Vatican copy of the Common Declaration
Vatican copy of the Pope’s statement

Reuters Pope, Anglican leader discuss obstacles to unity
Associated Press Pope and archbishop of Canterbury acknowledge serious obstacles to closer ties
BBC Archbishop and Pope admit strains

And also…
In an apparent competition for unlikely headlines, this morning we had:
The Times Vatican may relax rules on condoms
Telegraph Pope questions his infallibility

Friday additions

Church Times Williams warns of inhumane future by Rupert Shortt
Telegraph ‘Serious obstacles’ in talks of unity by Jonathan Petre
The Times Church leaders vow to combat terrorism by Ruth Gledhill
Guardian Pope and archbishop seek to shift emphasis from divisive issues by John Hooper and Stephen Bates
Ruth Gledhill’s latest blog entry here.
New York Times Catholic and Anglican Leaders Vow United Effort by Ian Fisher

Saturday additions
‘Secularism, Faith and Freedom’ Archbishop’s lecture given at the pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, Rome and associated press release.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 24 November 2006 at 8:17am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion

This trip is bigger on the Archbishop of Canterbury's radar than it is on the pope's. The pope is much more interested in Orthodoxy, surely, and it would not surprise me if the pope regards meeting the Archbishop of Canterbury roughly on the same level (maybe a little more) as meeting say the leaders of Methodists or Baptists.

This pope has some interesting comments about rationality, revelation and religion, but beyond that there seems to be a distance that is too far.

I am reminded of the English Presbyterians who had a parish church outlook even after they became Unitarians. There used to be quite a bit of co-operation in Victorian times (and there are still such pockets) between Unitarian ministers and liberal Anglicans. But no matter which way it was looked at, there could never be that dreamed of merger after the long past 1662 walkout (by Calvinist Puritans, it has to be said). The ecclesiology of the Unitarians went too far to the theological left for most Anglicans and the Anglican Church was too distant for Unitarians regarding formalistic credal utterances and understanding hierarchy. It looks similar now between Anglicans and Roman Catholics, and so it is up to individuals to move rather than institutions.

It is funny, actually, seeing questions asked of this Archbishop of Canterbury, like why is he an Anglican (as if there is doubt about it) and why he is not a Roman Catholic (given some answers, e.g. real presence), and the replies are remarkably thin-walled: those in recent interviews suggest to me that, especially with his look here and then there, nip and tuck, approach, that he is arguable into Roman Catholicism. Does equality in baptism really imply equality in priesthood - does he follow this through? Having said that, his theology as a "both and" approach is rather Anglican in feel and he rejects the Roman view of its patriarch. But what of the Orthodox?

Posted by: Pluralist on Thursday, 23 November 2006 at 2:24pm GMT

Hallejuhah! Shades of the Sanhedrin here. An acknowledgment that no one individual has all the answers and that discussion and debate is healthy (reference to Telegraph article).

Similarly, I appreciated Rowan's concerns about an inhumane future.

Again, as with the 2004 SE Asian Tsunami (sorry parts of Africa too) the problems need to be handled by multiple players with multiple vectors of resourcing and multiple gifts and talents.

In some ways, trying to heal this planet is like trying to create an ecosystem. A vibrant ecosystem has diversity and niches. Species that specialise in a peculiar location and are not suited else where (e.g. creatures that live around aquatic volcanic vents) and generalists that quickly populate barren ground, but cede territory as specialised creatures move in. (Like in reforestation, some trees are quick growers in razed land, but fade away as the slower growing giants mature - looking for newly razed land elsewhere).

We don't need homogenised pasturised Christianity (or a homogenized God for that matter either).

It is beautiful to walk through a forest that includes multiple storeys of insects, birds, mammals, trees, flowers, grasses, bushes. It is depressing to walk through a wasteland in which only insects, weeds and rats survive.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Friday, 24 November 2006 at 8:49am GMT

Who really cares? If Williams and Ratzinger wish to debate the totally improbable scenario of unity, thats up to them. Its a waste of oxygen.

Why would Anglicans want to join back with Vatican plc in any case - I can't think of many more disreputable, corrupt, backward looking institutions

Posted by: Merseymike on Friday, 24 November 2006 at 9:59am GMT

I couldn't help but laugh at the line in the Friday 'Guardian' article co-written by Stephen Bates, that Mrs. Williams wore a veil! What a hoot! I'm reminded of the little old portuguese women in Montreal's 'Plateau' district who go to mass daily dressed in black wearing head scarves or veils. I have to laugh, otherwise I'd be completely despondent at the thought of a bright intelligent theologian being so obviously apologetic in her attire.

Posted by: Andrew on Friday, 24 November 2006 at 3:22pm GMT

Perhaps someone can answer this: If the Pope is welcoming the Archbishop as an Archbishop, doesn't that mean the Pope considers the Archbishop's ordination valid? Wouldn't the Pope be guilty of misleading his flock if he acted as if Anglican ordination was valid when he believed it wasn't?

Posted by: James on Friday, 24 November 2006 at 4:10pm GMT

I would like to join back if it were possible. I treasure the idea of Tradition and Orthodoxy. I am an Anglican because it was not fashionable in the US to become a Roman Catholic 50 years ago when I made the choice. My reasons for remaining a non-Roman are also suspect. I find the local Roman church less than sophisticated, with poor music. poor architecture, poor preaching and poor taste generally. But I wish I could go home - if home were only more respectable.

Posted by: Allan on Friday, 24 November 2006 at 4:14pm GMT

Right on Merseymike!

The Roman Catholic church's ban on birth control has caused more human suffering than any corrupt government does. Its coverup of child abuse, its backward, primitive view of women are simply beyond the pale for thinking Anglicans. Not to mention its ridiculous view of sexuality.

I am sure 500 years from now the pope will apologize to educated, civilized people for the primitive theology it had in the 21st century just as its recent apology for its sins of the middle ages. But we can't wait that long.

If the Anglican Communion ever tries to reunite with the Roman Catholic church, then, in the words of Sam Goldwyn, "Include me out".

Posted by: Bob on Friday, 24 November 2006 at 5:15pm GMT

The Church has never said that everything the Pope says is infallible. It may be a convenient straw man to say so, but it isn't true. As the most recent example of the Pope making a mistake I need only quote his speech to Dr. Williams:

"It is our fervent hope that the Anglican Communion will remain grounded in the Gospels and the Apostolic Tradition which form our common patrimony and are the basis of our common aspiration to work for full visible unity."

In spite of the common declaration of Benedict and Rowan of "our commitment to pursue the path towards full visible communion", "full visible unity" is not an aspiration of the Anglican Communion. Anglicans are not even committed to pursue the path of full visible communion amongst Anglicans. It is not something that Catholics and Anglicans share in common. The Pope is wrong if he thinks that Catholics and Anglicans share a common aspiration for full visible unity.
Just look at Merseymike for one example.

Posted by: Ley Druid on Friday, 24 November 2006 at 6:06pm GMT


I agree with you. There was a wonderful article several months ago that commented that many of those in the Anglican Communion relish being there because it is so messy and inclusive. They have chosen to be in a messy communion and have chosen to avoid a homogenised church and theology. This camp are definitely not interested in a purified authoritative impositional church or theology.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Friday, 24 November 2006 at 7:59pm GMT

Cheryl C. describes the Anglican Communion as a "messy communion." The same is true of the Roman Communion when one goes behind the appearances.

For example, read Fr. James Alison's threads on various Websites. An Oxford grad, a gay convert to Roman Catholicism, a Dominican for many years, a biblical scholar and theologian, Fr. Alison tells his story (and I recomment his March 2006 address to his San Francisco RC gay audience via Google). Vatican pronouncements treat homosexuals as 'disordered' heterosexuals. But the pendulum is beginning to swing, according to Fr. Alison, in the direction of recognition that certain persons may genetically be predisposed to being gay, in which case they are homosexual by nature. Even the Vatican would then have to recognize that their sexual desires are no longer disordered. Fr. Alison traces the nuanced change in Vatican language, which seems to give him hope that 'change' is in the air. He doesn't presume to guess how long it will take for Roman Catholics officially to catch up with gay-affirming Anglicans.

Posted by: John Henry on Saturday, 25 November 2006 at 12:16am GMT

“Right on Merseymike! The Roman Catholic church's ban on birth control has caused more human suffering than any corrupt government does. Its coverup of child abuse, its backward, primitive view of women are simply beyond the pale for thinking Anglicans. Not to mention its ridiculous view of sexuality.

“I am sure 500 years from now the pope will apologize to educated, civilized people for the primitive theology it had in the 21st century just as its recent apology for its sins of the middle ages. But we can't wait that long.

“If the Anglican Communion ever tries to reunite with the Roman Catholic church, then, in the words of Sam Goldwyn, "Include me out".--Posted by: Bob


Posted by: Kurt on Saturday, 25 November 2006 at 4:12pm GMT

This entry is falling down the page pretty quickly, but I would like to ask a question before it slips into oblivion.

Given all the Anglicans who don't want to pursue a path towards full visible communion with the Catholic Church, what does it mean when Dr. Williams signs a document with the Pope, "renewing our commitment to pursue the path towards full visible communion"? Nothing? His personal opinion?

Why does Williams sign such a document? Is he aware of what others think? Does he think he has the authority to speak of an Anglican commitment?

If he is signing and saying things like this just to be polite, I would much much rather have Merseymike as Archbishop of Canterbury to tell us things the way they are.

Posted by: Ley Druid on Saturday, 25 November 2006 at 8:14pm GMT

That's a remarkable post, Ley Druid: you manage to insult BOTH Anglicans, and the Pope, at the same time! ;-/ (Re "The Pope is wrong if he thinks that Catholics and Anglicans share a common aspiration for full visible unity. Just look at Merseymike for one example." I believe MM is a Quaker now---so he can't be "one example" of Anglicanism in any way)


I got involved in ecumenism 20 years ago, largely because it seemed like differences between the AC and RCC (among other churches) could be bridged in my lifetime: now that looks doubtful, to say the least.

Unfortunately, *BOTH* Anglican and Roman traditions are moving further apart at this time---ironically, because both are significantly acting in (mutually-exclusive?) REACTIVE modes, in response to (so-called) "relativism", as they see embodied in TEC.

...and yet I see (to no one's surprise, here!) TEC moving faithfully towards our Gospel call, while *simultaneously* keeping our arms outstretched in ecumenical friendship.

I doubt I'll live to see it, but I do have faith that, in God's Good Time, the Church will achieve unity-in-Christ, that expresses the *inclusive welcome* that TEC emphasizes right now.

Come, Lord Jesus! Come, O Prince of Peace!

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Saturday, 25 November 2006 at 8:16pm GMT

We can have full visible unity as soon as the pope claims no immediate jurisdiction outside the diocese of Rome. If he were a symbol of unity with no jurisdictional power outside his own province (like the ABC) I'd be more than willing to embrace papal primacy.

What we should be aiming at is full communion, which does not imply that either the Roman Catholic Church or the Anglican Communion cease being itself.

Posted by: Bill Carroll on Sunday, 26 November 2006 at 1:30am GMT

John Henry

I liked your behind the scenes comments. One thing that amuses me about the Catholics is that they are officially against contraception (with no apparent regard to what a woman can physically, emotionally or spiritually cope with) but women (and their husbands) quietly use contraception, irregardless of decrees from the pulpit.

If the Catholic priests were allowed to be married men, and had to deal with first hand the fruit of their loins, they would take a far more realistic attitude to how many children should be coming into the world.

Plus one of my pet fumings for the last few weeks is that one of the reasons this planet is in a mess is stupid religious paradigms that foster children, with no regard to how the planet is going to be able to feed and shelter all of them. In that sense, every religion that fosters reckless breeding has my contempt. They should go back and read the bible. Just because they've had children does not mean they are pleasing to God (God refers to children born for the purposes of religious ascendancy or war as "chaff" - not because God does not love the children - but because God holds in contempt the shepherds and leaders who foster such irresponsibility).

E.g. Isaiah 33:11 You conceive chaff, you give birth to straw; your breath is a fire that consumes you. Or Hosea 13:1-3

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Sunday, 26 November 2006 at 4:49pm GMT

I think Ley Druid asked a reasonable question about the authority of RW's signature on a document. Perhaps someone will ask a question in General Synod in February about this matter?

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 27 November 2006 at 11:57am GMT

It is clear from the tenor of the letters the press select for publication, that they are prejudiced against the ordination of women for the priesthood of The Anglican Church.
'Ann's' letter, (dealing with an article by June Osborne), selected for publication in Sunday's Telegraph, truly caps this, with:
'....every time a woman is ordained, the church involved shrinks to the size of a pea.'
Let her come to Stapleford (Cambridge) one Sunday morning and see the size of our 'pea'. In three years our much loved lady Vicar has nearly doubled the size of our congregations and their giving; moreover we are still growing.
The only fly in the ointment has been the jealousy of a few of the other male priests in the diocese, as they see their congregations dwindling. They would dearly like to see the back of the female competition.
Len Baynes (lay member of the Stapleford Parish Church).

Posted by: Len Baynes on Wednesday, 29 November 2006 at 2:22pm GMT

Great to hear of your congregation's growth, but it may be at the expense of adjacent parishes and may not be attracting converts/newcomers to your church (if your comments about dwindling numbers at those churches are interpreted in a certain way!). Don't get me wrong: I can understand that certain individuals can be charismatic or just plain good at what they do - regardless of gender - and build support within a parish. Thank God for women priests, thank God for any priest who can win people for Christ by enthusiasm, compassion, humour, communication skills, holiness, training skills etc. etc......

Posted by: Anthony Irwing on Tuesday, 5 December 2006 at 11:34pm GMT
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