Archbishop of Canterbury to meet Pope Nov 21
VATICAN CITY |
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict will hold talks with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams on Nov 21 in their first meeting since a Vatican initiative making it easier for disaffected Anglicans to convert to Catholicism.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said on Friday the spiritual leader of the 77-million member worldwide Anglican communion will meet the pope while he is in Rome for a conference at a Rome pontifical university.
The meeting will take on great significance because it is their first since the Vatican announced a new structure on Oct 20 to welcome conservative Anglicans who want to convert.
The Vatican initiative could lead to hundreds of thousands of Anglican faithful, dozens of bishops and thousands of married Anglican priests converting to Catholicism.
The conservative Anglicans, who oppose female priesthood and gay bishops, will be given their own niche within the Catholic Church and will be allowed to convert as individuals, parishes or even as whole dioceses.
Some have seen the pope's move as an attempt to capitalise on deep divisions in Anglicanism and some Anglicans criticised the Vatican for informing Williams only several weeks before the move was announced to the media.
The biggest single group affected by the Vatican opening is the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), a breakaway group that several years ago petitioned the Vatican to join Catholicism en masse and is said to number some 400,000 members.
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