.- Following their private meeting this morning, the Pope and the archbishop of Canterbury signed a Common Declaration in the presence of members of the Anglican delegation accompanying the archbishop, and of Catholic representatives led by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster.
In their English-language declaration, Benedict XVI and Archbishop Williams note that 40 years ago their predecessors, Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey, undertook "to establish a dialogue in which matters which had been divisive in the past might be addressed from a fresh perspective with truth and love."
"True ecumenism," they write, "goes beyond theological dialogue; it touches our spiritual lives and our common witness. As our dialogue has developed, many Catholics and Anglicans have found in each other a love for Christ which invites us into practical cooperation and service."
"The International Anglican - Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) has been engaged in an exploration of the appropriate ways in which our shared mission to proclaim new life in Christ to the world can be advanced and nurtured. Their report ... has recently been completed and submitted for review to the Anglican Communion Office and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and we express our gratitude for their work."
They continue: "In this fraternal visit, we celebrate the good which has come from these four decades of dialogue. We are grateful to God for the gifts of grace which have accompanied them.”
Not shying away from current controversies over episcopal ordinations, the statement admits, “At the same time, our long journey together makes it necessary to acknowledge publicly the challenge represented by new developments which, besides being divisive for Anglicans, present serious obstacles to our ecumenical progress. It is a matter of urgency, therefore, that in renewing our commitment to pursue the path towards full visible communion in the truth and love of Christ, we also commit ourselves in our continuing dialogue to address the important issues involved in the emerging ecclesiological and ethical factors making that journey more difficult and arduous.”
"As Christian leaders facing the challenges of the new millennium, we affirm again our public commitment to the revelation of divine life uniquely set forth by God in the divinity and humanity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. We believe that it is through Christ and the means of salvation found in Him that healing and reconciliation are offered to us and to the world," the statement said.
The Holy Father and the primate of the Anglican Communion recognize that "there are many areas of witness and service in which we can stand together, and which indeed call for closer cooperation between us: the pursuit of peace in the Holy Land and in other parts of the world marred by conflict and the threat of terrorism; promoting respect for life from conception until natural death; protecting the sanctity of marriage and the well-being of children in the context of healthy family life; outreach to the poor, oppressed and the most vulnerable, especially those who are persecuted for their faith; addressing the negative effects of materialism; and care for creation and for our environment. We also commit ourselves to inter-religious dialogue through which we can jointly reach out to our non-Christian brothers and sisters."