Momentum within the Church of England toward the ordination of women might have been slowed by desire to maintain ecumenical ties with the Catholic church, a former archbishop of Canterbury said, had it not been for a negative 1991 Vatican analysis of Anglican-Catholic dialogue.
George Carey, who resigned as head of the 70-million-strong Anglican Communion in 2002, made the comments in Rome at the Oratory of St. Francis Xavier del Caravita March 23.
Carey's argument has obvious relevance today, when the Anglican communion once again is gripped by an internal crisis threatening relations with Rome--this time over the consecration of an openly gay bishop.
The document to which Carey referred came from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It was an analysis of the 1981 Final Report of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, the formal vehicle for dialogue between the two denominations. Though the Vatican response was co-issued by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, experts say the doctrinal congregation had the last word.
The international commission's final report had found "substantial agreement" between Anglicans and Catholics on issues such as the Eucharist and ordained ministry, fueling hopes for swift ecumenical progress. The doctrinal congregation, however, asserted that "differences or ambiguities remain …