Vatican City (Fides Service) – “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” the Pope said to Dr Rowan Douglas Williams, the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Anglican Primate of England, whom he received in audience in the Vatican on Saturday 4 October.
The Pope stressed the importance of the series of recent encounters between the Bishop of Rome and the Archbishop of Canterbury after a long period without contact (“these meetings have also given expression to our anticipation of the full communion which the Holy Spirit desires for us and asks of us”), but he also mentioned the difficulties on the path to unity. “These difficulties are not all of a merely disciplinary nature; – the Pope said - 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.”
Recalling the theological dialogue initiated by Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Ramsey, the Pope said “could not have known the exact route or duration of the path to full communion, but they knew that it would require patience and perseverance, and that it would come only as a gift of the Holy Spirit.” Thanking the Archbishop for his visit the Pope said Catholics and Anglicans must persevere on the journey undertaken: “We share a desire to deepen our communion…On this feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, an apostle of peace and reconciliation, let us pray together that the Lord will make us instruments of His peace. Where there is injury, may we bring pardon; where there is hatred may we sow love; where there is despair, may our humble search for unity bring hope.”
SL (Fides Service 6/10/2003 EM lines 25 Words: 352)