UK: Cardinal pours cold water on union with rebel (TAC) Anglican group
The Catholic Herald
December 6, 2007
One of the Vatican's most senior cardinals has dismissed the idea that a breakaway group of Anglicans might be received into the Catholic Church en masse - despite Benedict XVI's personal support for such a move. Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, told The Catholic Herald: "It's not our policy to bring that many Anglicans to Rome."
The cardinal's comments refer to the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), a rebel group which claims to represent 400,000 people. Its bishops sent a letter to Rome last month requesting "full, corporate and sacramental union". But the bishops did not send their letter to Cardinal Kasper. Instead they addressed it to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), where, it is understood, they expected a warmer reception.
It has been claimed that 60 Anglican parishes have joined the rebel group since their request became public.
Vatican insiders say that Benedict XVI is scrutinising the matter very closely and believes that the TAC is setting out a path that other Anglicans will follow.
One source said the Pope even gave his blessing to the TAC's plenary assembly in October, when 60 bishops agreed to seek full communion with Rome. Each bishop reportedly signed a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the church altar.
Benedict XVI sent his message of support through Archbishop Angelo Amato, secretary of the CDF.
But Cardinal Kasper, as president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, is likely to be cautious about any arrangement that might upset the official leaders of the other Christian churches - notably the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.
The cardinal said on Monday: "We are on good terms with the Archbishop of Canterbury and as much as we can we are helping him to keep the Anglican community together."
When asked whether he felt encouraged by the TAC's request, the cardinal replied: "It's not our policy to bring that many Anglicans to Rome and I am not sure there are so many as you are speaking about."
He added: "Of course, as a Catholic I am happy if one person joins our Catholic Church but I doubt such a big group is coming - I think there are still many questions to solve first."
The cardinal made his comments just days after another Episcopal bishop announced his intention to seek full communion with the Catholic Church
Bishop John B Lipscomb of southwest Florida is the fourth bishop this year to ask to be released from his Episcopal vows.
The subject of ecumenism also dominated discussions at the consistory in Rome last weekend, when Benedict XVI elevated 23 clergymen to the rank of cardinal.
The Pontiff told the assembled cardinals that they must be willing to shed their blood to spread the faith.
He singled out Patriarch Emmanuel III Delly, head of the Chaldean Church in Iraq, and said his decision to elevate him was a way of expressing his "spiritual closeness and my affection" for Christians in Iraq. But Benedict XVI chose ecumenism as the main topic for debate at his meeting with all of the cardinals on the eve of the consistory.
Cardinal Kasper, who gave the opening address, said that ecumenism was not "an optional choice, but a sacred duty".
Later in the day Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor proposed that the Holy See organise a "pan-Christian" meeting.
Benedict XVI returned to the same theme in his homily on Sunday. "Prayer for peace and unity constitutes your first and principal mission," he told the assembled cardinals, "so that the Church may be healthy and compact", a "sign and instrument of unity for the entire human race".
The homily called on the cardinals, as "the senate of the Church", to form one whole body under Christ. Commentators have suggested that the plea refers to the reluctance of some cardinals to accept the rulings of Summorum Pontificum, which allows priests to celebrate the traditional form of the Mass without the permission of a bishop.
The consistory also represented the first major test for the Vatican's new director of papal liturgies, Fr Guido Marini, who replaced Archbishop Piero Marini in October.
Observers noticed several "traditionalist" touches that set the proceedings apart from those directed by Archbishop Marini, who was known as a liturgical innovator.
The Pope's gold-embroidered mitre, for instance, belonged to the late 19-century Pope Pius IX, and his antique gilded throne was used by Leo XIII, who died in 1903. The consistory was held in St Peter's Basilica and not in St Peter's Square or the Vatican's audience hall.
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