The Vatican has come to the aid of Rowan Williams, the head of the Anglican church, ahead of this year's Lambeth conference.
As the Archbishop of Canterbury arrived in Rome yesterday for a private meeting with the Pope, it was announced that Cardinal Ivan Dias, the Indian prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, would be among the speakers at this summer's event, which brings Anglican bishops together in London once every 10 years.
Rebel bishops, angry at Williams's acceptance of gay bishops, plan a breakaway conference in Jordan and Jerusalem, threatening the break-up of the Anglican Communion.
Dias has been touted as a possible future candidate for the papacy. Cardinal Walter Kasper, head of the pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, may also attend the Lambeth event.
"We expect someone from the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity to attend, as we have in the past," said a spokesman for the Anglican Communion office in London.
Rev Keith Pecklers, a professor of liturgy at the Gregorian University in Rome, who has worked with the Anglican Centre in Rome on relations between the two churches, said: "Cardinal Kasper might be expected to attend, given his role, but Cardinal Dias's presence is proof that the Vatican wants to be supportive of Williams.
"The message is 'We're in this together and we are ecumenical partners, even if there are issues on which we disagree quite clearly,' " he added.
The meeting follows criticism by Vatican officials of Williams for suggesting that some aspects of sharia law in Britain were unavoidable.
But despite his conservative views on women priests and homosexuality, Pope Benedict appears determined to bolster Williams's leadership in the name of Anglican unity.
Williams and the Pope, who have forged a "warm relationship" since first meeting in 2006, had talks for 20 minutes yesterday at the Vatican and discussed "ecumenical relations and Christian-Muslim relations", said the Anglican spokesman. Gifts were exchanged: a medallion for Williams, and Love's Redeeming Work, a collection of essays including one by Williams, for the Pope.
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Rome & Canterbury
The Pope and Dr Rowan Williams had a twenty minute meeting yesterday whilst it was announced Cardinal Dias would appear at the Lambeth Conerence.
Posted by Fr Ray Blake