Pope to Anglican head: "New and serious difficulties have arisen on the path to unity"
In comments universally seen as critical of the Episcopal Church USA's confirmation of a gay bishop, Pope John Paul II Saturday warned Archbishop Rowan Williams that ecumenical efforts between the two leaders' churches were in danger.
"As we give thanks for the progress that has already been made we must also recognize that new and serious difficulties have arisen on the path to unity," the Pope said.
These difficulties are not all of a merely disciplinary nature; some extend to essential matters of faith and morals. In light of this, we must reaffirm our obligation to listen attentively and honestly to the voice of Christ as it comes to us through the Gospel and the Church's Apostolic Tradition. Faced with the increasing secularism of today's world, the Church must ensure that the deposit of faith is proclaimed in its integrity and preserved from erroneous and misguided interpretations. …
The world needs the witness of our unity, rooted in our common love for and obedience to Christ and his Gospel. It is fidelity to Christ which compels us to continue to search for full visible unity and to find appropriate ways of engaging, whenever possible, in common witness and mission.
These comments came during the public portion of the two leaders' meeting. Privately, the two men met for only 10 minutes, but a papal aide told Reuters that the pontiff began by asking directly about "the situation in your church."
(In a surprise act, after the Williams kissed the Pope's ring, the Pope returned the act, kissing a ring that Pope Paul VI had given to former Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey.)
Cardinal Walter Kasper, who heads the Vatican's council ...1