By Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith, Catholic Herald
Here is some cheerful and encouraging reading for a Friday – the full texts of the official speeches of Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury at their recent meeting. I urge you all to read it in full. It is nice and short too, which is an advantage.
There are several things worth commenting on. First of all, what was not said. There was no mention whatever of the question of women bishops in the Anglican communion. Presumably the reason for this is because the matter is simply not worth discussing, and can be relegated to the realm of things we simply must agree to disagree on.
Second, it is notable that there are matters that are still of mutual interest and where the Catholic Church and the Anglicans can make a difference by co-operating with each other. One such is the question of Syria, which presumably was discussed in greater detail behind the scenes. But there is more to it than Syria. In the whole matter of social teaching, the Catholic Church and the Anglicans can make a combined impact, as well as in the question of moral teaching. The Pope makes a point of referring to the strong defence of marriage recently made by the archbishop.
There is also a reference, which one suspects somehow had to be there, to ARCIC. But ARCIC is not what it once was (or, as some would doubtless prefer to put it, it is dead in the water). But if ARCIC has failed (and all the talk of corporate reunion that it once engendered now seems very odd to contemporary ears), it is important to stress that other things, which were perhaps not looked for, have succeeded. The Catholics and the Anglicans are now more or less singing from the same hymn sheet when it comes to morality. There are several Anglican theologians (as well as some nominal Catholics) who are not doing so, but the Anglican mainstream seems sound on many of the great matters of the day, such as the rights of the unborn, and questions to do with embryonic “research”. Likewise the question of poverty. When Justin Welby says the following, it could be a Catholic speaking:
Read also: I was wrong and uncharitable to suggest that the Pope should not be meeting Archbishop Welby. But about our relationship with Anglicanism I got it right by William Oddie, which refers to his earlier post On Friday, the Pope will meet Archbishop Welby. So, why do we continue talking to the Anglicans after they have so wilfully made unity impossible?