Archbishop of Canterbury to visit Rome

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, is to visit Pope Benedict XVI in Rome later this year. The visit will mark the fortieth anniversary of the Archbishop Michael Ramsey’s meeting with Pope Paul VI in 1966 and the founding of the Anglican Centre in Rome in the same year.

Dr Williams met the Pope’s predecessor, Pope John Paul II, in the autumn of 2003; he travelled to Rome in April 2005 for the funeral of Pope John Paul II and returned for the Inaugural Mass of his successor. Dr Williams and Pope Benedict met briefly the following day.

Dr Williams said:

“I am very much looking forward to the visit and especially to meeting Pope Benedict once again.

“Forty years ago today [March 23rd] Archbishop Ramsey met Pope Paul VI in what was a historic and ground-breaking visit to the Vatican. They exchanged fraternal greetings and gave thanks to God for the ‘new atmosphere of fellowship’ between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic church. The declaration which they signed the following day expressed their intent to engage in ‘a serious dialogue which, founded on the Gospels and on the ancient common traditions, may lead to that unity in truth, for which Christ prayed’.

“My visit this autumn is an opportunity to continue that rich tradition of visits between Canterbury and Rome, to reflect on the achievements of the last 40 years and on the future of those relations.”

As well as the Papal Audience, Dr Williams will also join in celebrations commemorating the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Anglican Centre in Rome, and will hold meetings with officials of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. The visit is expected to take place in the autumn; further details from the programme will be announced later in the year.

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