Pope Benedict once again commented on the theme of Anglican-Catholic relations, this time as he met with Welsh and English bishops at the Vatican on Monday. During their meeting Pope Benedict confirmed the importance of his recent Apostolic Constitution "Anglicanorum Coetibus."
The Holy Father welcomed bishops from England and Wales in audience on Monday morning in the Consistory Room of the Apostolic Palace as they complete their “ad Limina” visit.
After encouraging the bishops' important work in the areas of ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue, given the "varied demographic profile" of their flocks, Pope Benedict added, "I would ask you to be generous in implementing the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution 'Anglicanorum Coetibus,' so as to assist those groups of Anglicans who wish to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church."
"I am convinced that, if given a warm and open-hearted welcome, such groups will be a blessing for the entire Church.”
Archbishop Vincent G. Nichols of Westminster also referred to Catholic – Anglican relations in a speech he had given to the Pope just minutes earlier.
Speaking on behalf of the countries' bishops, he mentioned that the Anglican situation was of “particular delicacy for us.”
Archbishop Nichols attributed the “years of close cooperation and deepening friendship and communion with our brothers and sisters in the Church of England” to saving the relationship between the two in the face of various interpretations of and reactions to ‘Anglicorum Coetibus.' ”
The Apostolic Constitution was published in November 2009 and introduced a canonical structure that provides Anglicans who have a desire to re-enter into full communion with the Catholic Church a way to do so via the creation of Personal Ordinariates. The ordinariate model allows those seeking full communion to preserve “elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony," according to the document.
The archbishop added that the commitment of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission to a third round of discussion “has reinforced this relationship" and that the bishops of England and Wales “remain ready to explore with those Anglicans in England and Wales who wish to take up your generous and paternal response to their requests the ways forward towards full communion.”