[ACNS source: The Vatican] I would first of all wish to say that we rejoice in Archbishop Williams' visit to Rome and to the Holy See in his capacity as Archbishop of Canterbury. Such visits are a clear sign of the desire of the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church to continue to work together towards full communion. I was honoured to be able to attend Archbishop Williams' enthronement in Canterbury last February, and am very happy to be able to welcome him here.
While the path to full communion has proved to be long and not without difficulties, the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion continue to seek this goal, and remain committed firstly to the ongoing pursuit of doctrinal agreement through theological dialogue, and secondly, to incarnating as much as possible, in appropriate aspects of our ecclesial lives, the level of faith we already share. These complementary tasks are taken up most directly by our two international commissions, the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) and the newly formed International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM).
The theological dialogue, ARCIC, has produced a number of agreed statements over the past 33 years on doctrinal matters where Anglicans and Catholics have traditionally diverged. The most recent statement, The Gift of Authority (1999), builds on ARCIC's previous work on authority in the Church, and reveals significant progress towards a common understanding of the Petrine ministry. ARCIC will soon complete an agreed statement on the role of Mary in the life and doctrine of the Church. The Commission's aim has been to study the dogmas of the Assumption and the Immaculate Conception of Mary in the light of Scripture and our ancient common Tradition. It is hoped that significant progress will be recorded in the forthcoming agreed statement.
The second international commission (IARCCUM), constituted principally of bishops, builds on the historic meeting in May, 2000, of 13 Primates of Anglican Provinces with the heads of the Catholic Episcopal Conferences from the same countries, under the leadership of Cardinal Edward Cassidy and Archbishop George Carey. IARCCUM is intended to complement the work of ARCIC. It has taken up the threefold mandate given to it at the Mississauga meeting: the preparation of a text which would concisely articulate the degree of agreement in faith that exists between Anglicans and Catholics; reflection on ways in which the study and reception of the agreed statements of ARCIC could be fostered and promoted within the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church; and identifying strategies which would translate the degree of spiritual communion that has been achieved into visible and practical outcomes.
As you know, there are currently tensions within the Anglican Communion over the teaching and practice concerning human sexuality. It is not my task to comment at length. In our private conversations, we have certainly discussed the recent decisions taken in two Anglican Provinces. Archbishop Williams knows that we are deeply concerned about this, and that depending on how the present situation is resolved, these decisions could cause new problems for our relations. Catholic teaching is very clear in this regard, and is concisely expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (nn. 2357-59). Until recently, one could state with relative confidence that Catholics and Anglicans shared the same moral principles regarding human sexuality. We hope that it will remain so, for the world today needs our common witness. I hope and pray that the Anglican Communion will find a constructive solution to the present situation, both for the sake of the Anglican Communion itself and for the sake of our relations as well.
Our dialogue has produced many excellent results, and we look forward to working together to ensure that it continues to do so.