The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity has issued an Update on Relations with the Anglican Communion. This document is dated 27 April 2005, and refers to a letter of 17 December 2004. from Cardinal Kasper to Rowan Williams.
Part of the Update document reads as follows:
Overview of recent developments
In 2003, the decision of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America to ordain as bishop a priest in an active homosexual relationship, as well as the introduction of a rite of blessing for same sex couples in the Diocese of New Westminster in the Anglican Church of Canada, created new obstacles for relations between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. As a result of these actions and the uncertainty they created, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity agreed with representatives of the Anglican Communion to put on hold the plenary meetings of the International Anglican – Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM), while maintaining close communication with the Anglican Communion Office and with Lambeth Palace. Established in 2001, IARCCUM is an episcopally led body aimed at fostering practical initiatives that would give expression to the degree of faith shared by Anglicans and Catholics.
Faced with major tensions within the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, established the ‘Lambeth Commission’, mandating it to prepare a report -eventually entitled The Windsor Report – on possible future directions for the Anglican Communion. As part of the Anglican discernment process, Archbishop Williams asked Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, to join him in setting up a joint ad hoc sub-commission made up of IARCCUM and ARCIC members, to reflect, in light of the work of ARCIC over the past 35 years, on the ecclesiological issues facing Anglicans.
When the Lambeth Commission published The Windsor Report in October, 2004, once again the Anglican Communion sought a response from its ecumenical partners. Cardinal Kasper was asked by Archbishop Williams to write a letter offering reflections on The Windsor Report (this letter can be read here ) and, at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury, travelled to London for conversations with him and staff of the Anglican Communion Office in early February. On both occasions Cardinal Kasper emphasised the importance of clarifying both ecclesiological and moral issues related to the current situation.
The Windsor Report presents an ecclesiology which has broad similarities with that set forward in ARCIC’s agreed statements, and proposes various practical steps to situate the autonomy of Anglican provinces more clearly within the interdependence of the Anglican Communion. In February of 2005, the Anglican Primates endorsed The Windsor Report, and reiterated that the Anglican Communion’s teaching about human sexuality remains that stated at the Lambeth Conference of 1998, which affirmed the traditional Christian understanding of marriage and human sexuality.
The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity is of the opinion that these developments affirm the general thrust and conclusions of the understanding of the nature of the Church put forward in the ARCIC dialogue to this point, and that this provides a foundation for continued dialogue and ecumenical co-operation.