VATICAN CITY, FEB. 28, 2003 (Zenit.org).- In a letter to the new archbishop of Canterbury, John Paul II expressed his hopes for continued progress in Catholic-Anglican relations.
Cardinal Walter Kasper handed the Pope’s message to Rowan Williams today along with a pectoral cross from the Pontiff to mark the occasion of Thursday’s enthronement of the new primate of All England and president of the Anglican Communion in Canterbury Cathedral.
Cardinal Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, represented the Holy See at the liturgical ceremony.
Also in attendance were Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, archbishop of Westminster, and the Catholic co-presidents of the two official organisms of dialogue with the Anglican Communion: the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission and the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission.
“You begin your ministry as archbishop of Canterbury at a painful and tense moment in history, a moment nonetheless marked by hope and promise,” the Pope wrote in his message.
“Marred by long-standing and seemingly relentless conflicts, the world stands on the brink of yet another war,” he added. “The dignity of the human person is being threatened and undermined in various ways. Whole populations, especially the most vulnerable, are living amidst fear and danger.”
“At times the ardent and legitimate human longing for freedom and security manifests itself through the wrong means, means which themselves are violent and destructive,” the papal message added.
“It is precisely amidst these tensions and difficulties of our world that we are called to serve,” the Pope told the Anglican primate.
“We can sincerely rejoice in the fact that, in recent decades, our predecessors have developed an increasingly close relationship, even bonds of affection, through constructive dialogue and close communication,” John Paul II wrote.
“They set the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion on a path that they hoped would lead to full communion,” he said.
“Despite disagreements and obstacles, we are still on that path, and irrevocably committed to it,” the Pope affirmed.
“Over the past decade, the various opportunities to meet Dr. George Carey have been particularly helpful and encouraging, signs of progress on our ecumenical journey,” the Pope added, referring to Archbishop Williams’ predecessor.
“The work of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, and the more recently formed International Commission for Unity and Mission, continue to move us forward,” the papal message stated.
“We are both aware that overcoming divisions is no easy task, and that full communion will come as a gift of the Holy Spirit,” he said.
“That same Spirit prods and guides us even now to continue to seek a resolution to remaining areas of doctrinal disagreement, and to engage more profoundly in common witness and mission,” the message concluded.