From the liberal daily The Guardian comes this with me emphases and comments:
Rowan Williams urges Rome to rethink position on female bishops
* Riazat Butt and John Hooper in Rome
* guardian.co.uk, Thursday 19 November 2009 19.50 GMT
The archbishop of Canterbury insists there is more uniting Anglicans and Catholics than dividing them.
The archbishop of Canterbury today pleaded with Roman Catholics to set aside their differences with Anglicans over the issue of female bishops, [?] insisting there was more uniting the denominations than dividing them.
Rowan Williams was giving a lecture in Rome before Saturday’s meeting with the pope, their first encounter since the Vatican’s surprise announcement of a special institution for traditionalist Anglicans wanting to convert to Catholicism.
In his address at the Gregorian University, Williams said the Anglican communion was proof that churches could stay together in spite of their differences. [And what a great job they have done of it!]
The communion has teetered on the edge of schism for nearly a decade over the issue of gay clergy but has retained a sliver of fellowship. Williams urged Roman Catholics to continue their 35-year dialogue with Anglicans in spite of theological and ideological divisions. [I don’t think there was any question of that.]
He said: "The various agreed statements of the churches stress that the church is a community, in which human beings are made sons and daughters of God.
"When so much agreement has been established in first-order matters about the identity and mission of the church, is it justifiable to treat other issues as equally vital for its health and integrity?" [So… what would those secondary issues be?]
Those issues included papal primacy, female clergy and the relations between the local and universal church in making decisions. "Is there a level of mutual recognition which allows a shared theological understanding of primacy alongside a diversity of canonical and juridical arrangements?" he wondered. [In other words, forget about the Petrine dimension of the Church and accept women priests and bishops… for the sake of these other "first order" matters, which I assume would be something like belief in the Trinity, Incarnation, Resurrection, etc.]
Williams challenged Roman Catholic thinking on female bishops, saying there was no proof that their ordination damaged the church. [You mean other than the fact it is it contrary to the God’s will, the Christian tradition, and the obvious rifts it has caused in the Anglican Church. Hey! Other than that, its fine!]
For his part the "ecumenical glass" was "genuinely half-full". [Why wouldn’t people want a fuller glass?] Catholics and Anglicans had achieved "striking" agreement on the broader questions. All that stood between them now were the "second order" issues of church organisation. [If ordination is solely about "organization", then Williams has a point about female clergy. In that case, anyone who is competent can do it. But the nature of the clergy, the priesthood in particular, is of fundamental importance to who the Church is.]
In an explicit but fleeting reference to the pope’s move last month, Williams said it was an "imaginative pastoral response, but did not break any new ecclesiological ground." His speech was aimed at reviving dialogue between Anglicans and Catholics. But it also carried an implicit threat that there would be little point in continuing if the Catholic side continued to insist that the obstacles were insuperable.
Williams said: "The question is whether this unfinished business is quite as fundamental as our Roman Catholic friends believe."
He seemed tense, biting the sides of his fingers while he listened to the speaker who followed. His anxiety is understandable.
Bishop Brian Farrell, the secretary of the Vatican department that deals with ecumenical dialogue, told him: "You have certainly presented us with a challenge." [Which is pretty much a way of saying, politely, "Nice try."]