Pope notes difficulties on gay clergy issue

Published November 1, 2003

A strengthening of relations but also the recognition of new problems marked the first official visit of Archbishop Rowan Williams, the head of the Anglican Communion, with Pope John Paul II. In spite of the cordiality of the meeting between the two spiritual leaders, the Pope suggested new difficulties in the dialogue between the two churches concerning the role of gay clergy in the churches of the Anglican Communion. The meeting took place a week before the 38 senior bishops of the Anglican Communion met in London to discuss how the communion might stay together despite deep divisions over matters of sexuality (see p. 1). “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. These difficulties are not all of a merely disciplinary nature; some extend to essential matters of faith and morals,” the Pope said. “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,” he added Archbishop Williams made no mention of the controversy concerning sexuality, but spoke of the papacy: “Your invitation to church leaders and theologians to engage with you in a patient and fraternal dialogue about the Petrine ministry is a sign of generosity and openness, and I will be glad to participate in the reflection on the possible sharing of a primacy of love and service.” Asked at a news conference about the acceptance of homosexual clergy, the Archbishop of Canterbury said: “We are conscious of the ecumenical implications of what has been done [by certain Anglican churches]. We have listened hard in these last days to what has been said in Rome.”


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