Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pope's Wooing of Anglicans Challenges Archbishop

From The Wall Street Journal-

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and Pope Benedict XVI are both noted theological scholars leading flocks through complicated times. In recent days, Archbishop Williams's already tough mission became even more difficult.

Archbishop Williams is the top official in the Church of England and the "first among equals" of the global church leaders that guide the 80-million-strong Anglican Communion. That puts him in the crucial position of holding the Anglican faithful together in the wake of the Vatican's surprise move this week to make it easier for disgruntled Anglicans to convert to Catholicism.

For several years, Archbishop Williams has attempted to unify an already divided global community of Anglicans. Internecine battles over same-sex marriage, the consecration of women bishops and the authority of Scripture threaten to splinter the world's third-largest Christian group.

But unlike Pope Benedict -- who has singular authority over 1.1 billion Roman Catholics -- Archbishop Williams lacks many tools to force cooperation among his church's factions. He can cajole and persuade, but in the end the many churches within the Anglican Communion have a great deal of autonomy, including the Church of England.

"What is he going to do? That's the $64,000 question," said Stephen Parkinson, director of Forward in Faith, an Anglo-Catholic advocacy group within the Church of England that has reacted warmly to the Vatican's move. "Does he try to hold it all together, or does he simply say bon voyage to those who want to take the Vatican's offer?"

More here-

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