tPope Benedict XVI and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, held a brief tête-à-tête in Rome on Saturday, amid the latest in a seemingly endless series of crises in relations between the Catholic church and the Anglican Communion. This time, the issue was the Vatican’s decision to create special structures for traditionalist Anglicans wishing to become Catholics.
tIn the main, both Benedict and Williams reaffirmed their commitment to good ties, even if Williams did gently chide the pontiff for what Williams saw as a failure to consult Anglican leaders more thoroughly in advance of the recent move. (In an address at the Jesuit-run Gregorian University, Williams also defended the ordination of women and suggested that differences over such matters “may not be as fundamentally church-dividing as our Roman Catholic friends generally assume.”)
This weekend’s encounter provides an opportunity to step back and contemplate the state of things between Anglicans and Catholics. To be sure, Catholicism isn’t General Motors or Microsoft – but if it were, a bean-counter in Rome might put down his eyeshade to ask: Why do we bother?