11/23/2006, 00.00
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Peace in Holy Land, shared commitment towards unity of Catholics and Anglicans

The Pope and Anglican Archbishop, who met today in the Vatican, did not hide the difficulties and "challenges" standing in the way of the quest for full communion, but they reiterated their desire to persevere in this quest. A common declaration was issued 40 years after the historic encounter between Pope Paul VI and Anglican Archbishop Ramsey.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Catholics and Anglicans still have a long way to go before they reach full unity – obstacles have been posed along the way by decisions like the Anglican ordination of women and homosexuals – but there is a shared desire to attain unity and there are "many areas of common witness" like the pursuit of peace in the Holy Land, for which closer cooperation is called for.

An assessment of ties between Catholics and Anglicans, 40 years after the historic encounter between Pope Paul VI and the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, and the consequent setting up of the Anglican – Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), was undertaken today by Benedict XVI and the current Anglican primate, Rowan Williams. The two men had a long private meeting, signed a common declaration and celebrated noonday prayer together.

In the statement, the Pope and Williams acknowledged the existence of "serious obstacles" standing in the way of attaining full communion, but they reaffirmed their willingness to pursue the path opened 40 years ago. Therefore, Benedict XVI and the Archbishop of Canterbury said it was "urgent, that in renewing our commitment to pursue the path towards full visible communion in the truth and love of Christ, we also commit ourselves in our continuing dialogue to address the important issues involved in the emerging ecclesiological and ethical factors making that journey more difficult and arduous."

In this regard, the common declaration refers to a "challenge represented by new developments which, besides being divisive for Anglicans, present serious obstacles to our ecumenical progress". And in his address, Benedict XVI expressly said "recent developments regarding priestly ordination and certain moral teachings have affected our relations."

The common declaration, however, underlined the existence of "areas of witness" in which Catholics and Anglicans may collaborate. The declaration reads: "There are many areas of witness and service in which we can stand together, and which indeed call for closer co-operation between us: the pursuit of peace in the Holy Land and in other parts of the world marred by conflict and the threat of terrorism; promoting respect for life from conception until natural death; protecting the sanctity of marriage and the well-being of children in the context of healthy family life; outreach to the poor, oppressed and the most vulnerable, especially those who are persecuted for their faith; addressing the negative effects of materialism; and care for creation and for our environment."

Finally, a consideration links ecumenism and evangelization: "We also commit ourselves to inter-religious dialogue through which we can jointly reach out to our non-Christian brothers and sisters."

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