Monday, November 2, 2009

Mr. Williams is Coming to Town


Vatican City, October 30 - Pope Benedict XVI will receive the head of the Church of England, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, on November 21, the Vatican confirmed Friday.

William was already scheduled to visit for the 100th anniversary of the birth of Catholic ecumenical pioneer Johannes Willebrands but his trip has assumed greater significance since an October 20 announcement that the Vatican was setting up a new section to help Anglicans who want to convert to Catholicism.

The new Apostolic Constitution will lay out the path for unmarried bishops, married and unmarried priests and other members of the Anglican Church to join the Catholic Church.

Many conservative Anglicans are unhappy with increasingly progressive moves like the ordination of woman bishops.

The new section, which would allow Anglicans to keep many of their traditions and practices, was set up in response to pleas from Anglicans, whose conversions were previously assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Some leading Anglicans have criticised the Vatican's move.

Ex-archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey said the Anglican Church should not be treated as a ''junior partner'' and that the Vatican had only given Williams two weeks' notice of its plan.

A conservative Anglican group called Forward With Faith has said many of its members are eager to convert because the Church of England was becoming ''the church of political correctness''.

One of its leaders, Father Geoffrey Kirk, said they objected not only to the ordination of woman but also to ''many attitudes on human sexuality'' including divorce and homosexuality.

On the Vatican side of the question, meanwhile, some observers have speculated that the arrival of more married Anglicans might eventually open a chink in the Holy See's ironclad insistence on celibacy for its own clergy.

The Church of England is regarded as the 'mother' of all the other churches in the worldwide Anglican Communion, which considers itself to be both a product of the Reformation and also Catholic.

With some 77 million members, the Anglican Communion is the third largest Christian communion in the world after the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

The English church was under papal authority for nearly a thousand years before splitting from Rome in 1534 when King Henry VIII was refused an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon so he could marry Anne Boleyn.

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