Sunday, September 19, 2010

Pope to call for 'full communion' between Anglicans and Catholics
AP Photo

The Pope is to make a dramatic offer to disaffected Anglicans to join the Roman Catholic Church.

By Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious Affairs Correspondent

In a move which the pontiff views as a positive step for Christianity, he will on Sunday make a personal plea for the Churches to come together.
Pope Benedict XVI sees this as the best way to challenge the rise of "aggressive secularism" and heal centuries of division.

He will use the final speech of his historic state visit to urge for a "restoration of full ecclesial communion" between the Churches, which separated nearly 500 years ago.

Addressing the Catholic bishops of England, Wales and Scotland, he will argue that his offer to disaffected Anglicans should not be viewed negatively, but as "a prophetic gesture".

However, the speech could undermine his efforts to build bridges with Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who confronted the Pope over the issue last year.

The plea will come at the end of his four day state visit to England and Scotland which has seen tens of thousands of members of the public attend religious ceremonies and thousands more lining the streets to see him..

It had not been expected that the German pontiff would broach the controversial subject of Anglican clergy moving to Rome. But The Sunday Telegraph has learnt that he will raise it in a meeting following the beatification.

The Pope will tell the bishops to welcome the introduction of a system – called an Ordinariate – to allow Anglicans to convert while maintaining parts of their Protestant heritage.

It could lead to the defection of thousands of Anglicans if the final plans are accommodating enough for traditionalist clergy who have become disillusioned at the increasingly liberal direction of the Church of England...

 A senior Catholic source said that the speech could be viewed as an aggressive move by the Pope and said it carried particular significance because it is the last point he will make on the visit...

It is understood that he will refer to a previous meeting with the Catholic bishops in which he spoke of the need to give a "warm welcome" to Anglicans wanting to enter full communion with the Roman Church...

Prime Minister David Cameron will on Sunday pay tribute to the Pope for challenging Britain to "sit up and think".
In a speech to mark the final day of the Pontiff's historic state visit, Mr Cameron will say that he had shown that faith was still "a vital part of our national conversation".

The Pope's message has, at times, been an uncomfortable one for politicians, speaking out against what he called "aggressive secularism" and warning against the "marginalisation" of Christianity in modern Britain.

But speaking in Birmingham, the Prime Minister will tell Benedict XVI that he agrees with him about the importance of religious faith in public life.

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