Catholic World News
November 19, 2009
Two days before he is scheduled to meet with Pope Benedict XVI, the Archbishop of Canterbury made a spirited defense of the Anglican decision to ordain women as priests, and minimized the differences between the Anglican communion and the Catholic Church, in a talk at the Gregorian University in Rome.
Dr. Rowan Williams said that the Anglican communion, with its sharp internal differences on issues such as homosexuality, could offer a model for other Christian churches, by showing that unity is possible despite such doctrinal disagreements. He argued that Christians are bound together by ties that are stronger than their disputes, and suggested that Christian unity could be achieved by, in effect, agreeing to disagree, in order to "maintain a degree of undoubtedly impaired communion."
The Anglican leader applied that principle explicit to relations between Canterbury and Rome, saying that much progress had been made in the past 40 years to defining a common sense of what constitutes the Christian Church. "When so much agreement has been established in first-order matters about the identity and mission of the Church, is it justifiable to treat other issues as equally vital for its health and integrity?" he asked.
The scheduled November 21 meeting between Archbishop Williams and Pope Benedict has been a focal point of attention, in light of the Pope's apostolic constitution inviting Anglicans to enter the Catholic Church. In his speech at the pontifical university, the Archbishop of Canterbury downplayed the importance of the Pope's move, saying that "it is an imaginative pastoral response to the needs of some; but it does not break any fresh ecclesiological ground."
Source(s): these links will take you to other sites, in a new window.
Struggling Anglican leader in Rome for papal talks (AP)
Archbishop of Canterbury claims differences between Anglicans and Roman Catholics are not that great (Daily Telegraph)
Rowan Williams urges Rome to rethink position on female bishops (Guardian)
See also from Catholic News Service, "Outreach to former Anglicans not model of ecumenism, archbishop says."