Friday, November 20, 2009

Archbishop of Canterbury tells Pope: there will be no turning back on women priests

As reported by the Times in the UK, Archbishop Rowan Williams stated unequivocally to the Pope at an ecumenical conference that the Church of England will not turn back on women as priests, and presumably as bishops. This comes at a time when the Catholic Church is extending to UK Anglicans an offer that has been made to some Episcopalians in the US - they may join the Catholic Church as congregations while retaining their traditional Anglican style of worship; Anglican priests who transition may retain their ordination status and in some cases, their spouses.

The Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday made his most outspoken challenge to the Roman Catholic Church since the Pope invited disaffected Anglicans to switch to Rome.

Speaking before he meets Benedict XVI tomorrow, Dr Rowan Williams told a conference in Rome that the Catholic Church’s refusal to ordain women was a bar to Christian unity.

“For many Anglicans, not ordaining women has a possible unwelcome implication about the difference between baptised men and baptised women,” he said.

The Anglican provinces that ordain women had retained rather than lost their Catholic holiness and sacramentalism, he said.

Addressing an ecumenical conference at the Gregorian Pontifical University, the Archbishop said that the way Anglican leaders dealt with internal arguments offered lessons for senior Catholics.

“Is it nonsense to think that holding on to a limited but real common life might be worth working for within the Anglican family? And if it can be managed within the Anglican family, is this a possible model for the wider ecumenical scene?”

The ordination of women priests — and the prospect of women bishops — is one of the main reasons why disaffected Anglicans may take up the Pope’s offer of a “Church within a Church” that would enable them to retain traditional Anglican practices within the Catholic faith.

But yesterday the Archbishop made clear that there would be no turning back the clock on women priests in order to appease critics. He dismissed the Pope’s offer to disaffected Anglicans as barely more than a “pastoral response”, which broke little new ground in relations between the two Churches.

No comments: