On Saturday Archbishop Rowan Williams had a brief visit with Pope Benedict XVI. The official Vatican statement following the visit states:
This morning His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI received in private audience His Grace Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury. In the course of the cordial discussions attention turned to the challenges facing all Christian communities at the beginning of this millennium, and to the need to promote forms of collaboration and shared witness in facing these challenges. The discussions also focused on recent events affecting relations between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion, reiterating the shared will to continue and to consolidate the ecumenical relationship between Catholics and Anglicans, and recalling how, over coming days, the commission entrusted with preparing the third phase of international theological dialogue between the parties (ARCIC) is due to meet.The "recent events" of course refers to the publication of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum ceotibus, the controversial legal provision for Anglicans to enter into the Roman Catholic Church while keeping elements of their own identity. It is important in the light of some awkward feelings, particularly about the way the news of the Apostolic Constitution was handled, that the Pope and Archbishop restated their intent to continue and consolidate the ecumenical relations between our Churches and drew attention to the preparatory work presently under way for the next phase of the ARCIC official dialogue.
I will be in Rome this week for the Informal Talks between the Vatican and the Anglican Communion. These annual, official, in camera conversations cover our shared agenda as Churches, including our formal ecumenical instruments, ARCIC (the theological dialogue) and IARCCUM (the commission on mission and unity) and other aspects of our joint international relations. The recent private conversations between His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury appear to have set the tone for fruitful working meetings this week.
Incidentally, some have noted the significance that the gift His Holiness chose to give to the Archbishop on Saturday was a gold bishop's pectoral cross.