Unite to evangelize Europe – Williams

Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, leader of the Anglican Communion, in his homily during Vespers with Pope Benedict, said Christian communities need to accept one another, work together and witness the Gospel to all.

CNS PHOTO | STEFANO DAL POZZOLO, POOL VIA REUTERS

Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, leader of the Anglican Communion, in his homily during Vespers with Pope Benedict, said Christian communities need to accept one another, work together and witness the Gospel to all.

March 19, 2012
CINDY WOODEN
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE

ROME – Remembering the common roots of the Christianity they share, Roman Catholics and Anglicans should renew their commitments to praying and working for Christian unity, Pope Benedict said.

The pope and Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, held an evening prayer service March 10 at Rome's Church of St. Gregory on the Caelian Hill.

It was from that church that Pope Gregory the Great sent St. Augustine of Canterbury and his fellow monks to evangelize England in 597.

The pope said he hoped that "the sign of our presence here together" will stimulate the Catholic and Anglican faithful to pray and work constantly for Church unity.

Faith is a gift of God, but it requires a response, he said.

"It requires the commitment to be reclothed in . . . the love that God has given us through Jesus, the love that the Holy Spirit has poured into our hearts," he said.

The pope and the archbishop of Canterbury held private talks in the morning March 10 at the Vatican.

Williams told Vatican Radio that he and the pope spoke about the situation of Christians in the Middle East "and about our shared sense of deep anxiety and frustration and uncertainty about what the future holds there."

He said they also spoke about Pope Benedict's invitation to Williams to address October's world Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization.

"I'm being invited to give some theological reflections on the nature of mission, the nature of evangelization, and I'm extremely honoured to be invited to do this," he told Vatican Radio.

"I hope that it's a sign that we can work together on evangelization in Europe," the archbishop said.

DON'T GO IT ALONE

"It's disastrous if any one Church tries to go it alone here and tries to assume that it and it alone has the key," he said. Reviving the Christian faith in Europe requires as many and "as deep resources as we can find."

At the evening prayer service, Williams said Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism are both committed to "a vision of the restoration of full sacramental communion, of a eucharistic life that is fully visible, and thus a witness that is fully credible."

Such full unity will help make it possible "that a confused and tormented world may enter into the welcome and transforming light of Christ."

Catholic-Anglican unity is imperfect, at least in part because Catholics and Anglicans have an "unstable and incomplete" recognition of one another as the body of Christ, Williams said.

"Without such ultimate recognition we are not yet fully free to share the transforming power of the Gospel" within the Christian community and in the world.

GIFT OF BAPTISM

He told Vatican Radio that Anglicans and Roman Catholics "can become so fixated" on issues of authority and Church structure "that we can forget the gift of Baptism and the gift of one another in Baptism," which are the true basis of unity.