VATICAN CITY, OCT. 6, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The visit by the primate of the Anglican Communion to the Vatican has meant an important step for ecumenical dialogue in quest of full unity, according to Holy See sources.
Rowen Williams had promoted the visit since he took office as the 104th archbishop of Canterbury last February, several Vatican officials told ZENIT.
The meeting between Dr. Williams and John Paul II should have taken place last June, but the Holy Father’s busy schedule precluded it.
In statements to the press, Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said the meetings were marked by a search for a genuine spirit of unity.
The result of the visit, Vatican Radio reported Sunday, has been to emphasize “the will and commitment to reach the goal of full communion.”
The Anglican archbishop stressed this spirit with innumerable gestures, including kissing the Pope’s hand at Saturday’s audience.
At that moment, he was wearing the pectoral cross that John Paul II gave him on the occasion of his enthronement, and the episcopal ring that Pope Paul VI gave one of his predecessors, Archbishop Michael Ramsey.
When Dr. Williams met the press at the English College in Rome where he was a guest, he expressed his gratitude for the encouragement he received in his meetings with the Focolare Movement and the Community of Sant’Egidio.
“We shared the conviction that our ecumenical dialogue advances in a life of prayer,” the Anglican leader added.
The Holy See’s media — L’Osservatore Romano, Vatican Radio and the Vatican Information Service — underlined the importance of the visit for the promotion of unity, leaving aside the issue of the internal debate in the Anglican Church on homosexuality.
The Vatican explained that the question of the ordination of a homosexual bishop arose, in fact, after Archbishop Williams requested an audience with the Pope. It was not the principal issue of his visit.
In referring to this question in his address to the Anglican archbishop, the Pope said: “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 Holy Father said, “the Church must ensure that the deposit of faith is proclaimed in its integrity and preserved from erroneous and misguided interpretations.”