It is being reported by the Catholic Herald that Cardinal Kasper has expressed his personal ambivalence toward a potential reunification with those Anglicans part of the Traditional Anglican Communion.
When asked whether he felt encouraged by the TAC’s request, the cardinal replied: “It’s not our policy to bring that many Anglicans to Rome and I am not sure there are so many as you are speaking about.”
He added: “Of course, as a Catholic I am happy if one person joins our Catholic Church but I doubt such a big group is coming – I think there are still many questions to solve first.”
Not our policy? This seems odd since Cardinal Kasper is president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity. The Herald reports that the Cardinal is likely worried about how the rest of the Anglicans and other groups would react to such a large unification.
“We are on good terms with the Archbishop of Canterbury and as much as we can we are helping him to keep the Anglican community together.”
Helping Rowan Williams try to keep the Anglican communion together is one thing. This makes sense in promoting future unity with the Church. But should this come at the expense of those who would like to have this unity now? It seems that this is a wonderful opportunity to pave the way for many more Anglicans of an orthodox bent to find their way home to Rome. Were Rome to reject outright such unity, that would seem to promote more division than unity. It seems that the Holy Father might agree.
But the bishops did not send their letter to Cardinal Kasper. Instead they addressed it to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), where, it is understood, they expected a warmer reception.
It has been claimed that 60 Anglican parishes have joined the rebel group since their request became public.
Vatican insiders say that Benedict XVI is scrutinising the matter very closely and believes that the TAC is setting out a path that other Anglicans will follow.
Finally, the Herald reports this little tidbit that speaks to the mindset of the Bishops asking for unity and hints at the disposition of the Pope toward this proposed unity.
One source said the Pope even gave his blessing to the TAC’s plenary assembly in October, when 60 bishops agreed to seek full communion with Rome. Each bishop reportedly signed a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the church altar.
Benedict XVI sent his message of support through Archbishop Angelo Amato, secretary of the CDF.
Signing a copy of the Catechism on the altar seems pretty serious. No doubt there are key areas and items that need to be clarified before any such formal unity could take place, but every effort should be made to do so. I guess the question I would ask the Cardinal is if these Anglicans are serious and willing to sign on the dotted line, so to speak, would it be moral for us to say no? Can we turn our backs on those who desire unity for the sake of those who don’t? That would be rather unfriendly and rather un-Christian.