Exclusive: Vatican shuns defectors and backs calls for Anglican unity
By James Macintyre, Religious Affairs Correspondent
Wednesday, 16 July 2008
The Pope is leading an unprecedented drive by the Roman Catholic Church to prevent the fragmentation of the worldwide Anglican Communion ahead of the once-a-decade gathering of its 800 bishops, which begins today, The Independent has learnt.
In his first public comments on the Lambeth Conference, Pope Benedict XVI has warned Anglican leaders that they must find a "mature" and faithful way of avoiding "schism". On top of this the Pope has:
* Sent three cardinals to the conference in Canterbury, including one of his top aides from the Vatican, to act as personal intermediaries between the two churches;
* Let it be known that he does not support the defection of conservative Anglicans to the Roman Catholic Church;
* Given behind-the-scenes support to the Archbishop of Canterbury's attempts to hold together the conservative and liberal wings of the Anglican Church, including at face-to-face meetings in Rome.
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One can imagine that this will not be well received in some quarters. I also think that this is in no small part because he's already facing complaints about married Clergy in the Latin Rite. I also think that what ever plans he really has for the future of the Roman Church would only be complicated by a pack of priests who have a proven track record of not wanting to go along with a program if it doesn't match what they want exactly.