Report by David W. Virtue
World religious leaders including Pope Benedict XVI, the Archbishop of Constantinople, the Russian Patriarchate and numerous church leaders took aim at the Anglican Communion's sexual drift and blasted its leadership saying that they jeopardized present and future relationships.
Speaking on behalf of Pope Benedict XIV, Secretary of State for the Vatican Cardinal Bertrone wrote the Archbishop of Canterbury at the Lambeth conference of Anglican bishops saying that "apostolic faith handed down from the beginning and the 'regula fidei' faithfully transmitted, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, through the ages" is not subject to compromise."
Our different understanding of the divine plan for this ministry in the Church has been addressed for the past forty years. New issues that have arisen in our relationship pose a further and grave challenge to the hope for full and visible unity that has been the longstanding goal of our joint ecumenical endeavour."
The Pope concluded his remarks saying "the emerging ecclesiological and ethical factors make (our) journey more difficult and arduous."
The Archbishop of Constantinople and ecumenical Patriarch wrote saying that while Lambeth would be devoting special consideration to the vocation and ministry of the bishop as the symbol and instrument of unity, "we pray that the present Lambeth Conference will prove to be a council of reconciliation and unity, an occasion for speaking the truth in sincerity and without compromise, yet an occasion also for speaking the truth in love."
Acknowledging that questions confronting the Bishops of the Anglican Communion are "from one point of view, specifically Anglican questions" they are "at the same time questions that concern the total Christian world." The Archbishop concluded his remarks saying that "your concerns...have a vital relevance also for us."
The Patriarchate of Moscow and All Russia wrote saying that the members of the conference have a very serious task. "They have to choose between the traditional, biblical norms of morality and tendencies which consider sin and general permissiveness as manifestations of love and tolerance. That is why there is laid on members of the conference such a great, historic responsibility."
He said the outcome of the Lambeth Conference will be of particular importance for the Russian Orthodox Church, "for the history of our contacts with Anglicans goes back to the sixteenth century. As a rule, it has been marked by warmth and mutual understanding. I sincerely hope it will be possible to maintain such relations." The Patriarch concluded his remarks saying, "It is my heartfelt wish that the work of the conference be governed by the aspiration to remain unshakably faithful to the understanding of the Christian moral ideal which is revealed to us in the Word of God and the centuries-old aposto9lic tradition."
The Holy Archbishopric of Cyprus cautioned that "great care be taken for the realization of the sacramental communication of the Anglicans with the Orthodox."
He noted that following the 1988 Lambeth conference, "no substantial progress had been made to "promote relations between the Orthodox and the Anglican Church, no substantial progress has been made in this area though a most fervent desire for our union exists in both churches." He said the church had recognized "Anglican ordainments" since 1923.
In a pointed statement to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Archbishop of Athens and all Greece suggested that as this is the year of St. Paul, the Anglican Communion might take the opportunity "to examine to what degree the Church has remained faithful or has deviated from the Pauline teaching and principles, given that most of Europe was originally evangelized by the Apostle Paul and has immediate need of re-evangelization "to distinguish between those matters that are essentials and those that are not."
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