John Paul II

Vatican positive about Canterbury


Anglican Communion


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Cardinal Walter Kasper, the Pope's chief of ecumenical relations, will attend the enthronement of Archbishop Rowan Williams in Canterbury at the end of February, and is 'looking forward' to developing positive relations with him.

The German cardinal, who is president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, revealed this last week that there is a growing sense of a 'new phase' opening up for the movement in which the emphasis will be on spiritual ecumenism.

This will be their first meeting, but the cardinal has already formed a positive opinion of the man recently chosen by the Queen to lead the Church of England and the worldwide 75 million-strong Anglican Communion.

'My impression is of a very interesting, very intelligent, outspoken man, and I hope we can have good relations with him,' he said.

'I do not doubt that he is ecumenically open. He is a good patristic scholar and his theology is based on the good Christological and Trinitarian dogmas of the Church of the First Millennium.'

But the cardinal is a realist, and he acknowledged that some problems could arise between them in regard to certain ethical questions, such as 'in relation to homosexuality, and regarding women's ordination, which has become one of the major obstacles to progress  between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.

'Nevertheless, I am hopeful. The Anglican Church as a whole has an intermediate function and role between the Orthodox Church and the Churches and communities coming out of the Reformation and the personal relations are still excellent,' he said.

Despite the present problems with the Russian Orthodox Church, the cardinal sees some signs of hope there too, also coming from the Patriarchate of Moscow, and told The Universe: 'Without specifying more, things are moving in a positive sense. Rome is attentive, waiting and praying.

'As all Christians seek to find unity together, we need the force of the Holy Spirit, and we should emphasise and use the spiritual resources of ecumenism: common prayer, reading the Bible, exchange of spiritual experiences, and so on.

'There's a lot to do. We must not become too superficial and too activist.

We must pray together and prayer will also bring us closer together. This is my main hope.'

The Vatican also confirmed they are conducting unity talks with a number of Churches that split with Rome in the early centuries, from places like Armenia and Egypt.