Now, this is more like it, as More than a Via Media observes, Archbishop Rowan Williams is "back", confidently articulating an Anglican future without anxiety. Indeed he rather turns the tables on Benedict! As The Times reports,
"Speaking before he meets Benedict XVI tomorrow, Dr Rowan Williams told a conference in Rome that the Catholic Church’s refusal to ordain women was a bar to Christian unity."
As indeed it is. Rome can change - Benedict has demonstrated that - but can and will it change on this matter which lies at the heart of human dignity, of male and female created equal in God's sight, and redeemed equally on the cross of Christ?
"“For many Anglicans, not ordaining women has a possible unwelcome implication about the difference between baptised men and baptised women,” [++Rowan] said."
Here is the confident expression of the validity of Anglican life:
"“Is it nonsense to think that holding on to a limited but real common life might be worth working for within the Anglican family? And if it can be managed within the Anglican family, is this a possible model for the wider ecumenical scene?”"
Here is the challenge which he will bring to the table when he meets with Benedict tomorrow:
"But yesterday the Archbishop made clear that there would be no turning back the clock on women priests in order to appease critics. He dismissed the Pope’s offer to disaffected Anglicans as barely more than a “pastoral response”, which broke little new ground in relations between the two Churches.
Dr Williams said: “It does not build in any formal recognition of existing ministries or methods of independent decision-making, but remains at the level of spiritual and liturgical culture.
“As such, it is an imaginative pastoral response to the needs of some; but it does not break any fresh ecclesiological ground,” he told the meeting of senior priests, bishops and cardinals.
Dr Williams put the row over the apostolic constitution, as the Pope’s plan is known, into the context of a centuries-old debate about reuniting the Christian Churches. He questioned whether unity talks should even continue if disagreements over issues such as papal primacy had no hope ever of being resolved.
“I want to propose that we now need urgent clarification of whether these continuing points of tension imply in any way that the substantive theological convergence is less solid than it appears, so that we must still hold back from fuller levels of recognition of ministries or fuller sacramental fellowship,” he said.
But he went on to argue that if there was hope that such issues could be resolved, the Churches could begin to talk about converging their structures of administration and governance, and seeking “sacramental” fellowship.
The speech laid the ground for a frank encounter behind closed doors with the Pope, the highlight of Dr Williams’s Rome trip."
Read the address Archbishop Williams gave at the Willebrands Symposium here.
Ruth Gledhill's blogpost re all this is here, entitled "Rowan in Rome: the Fightback begins"