VATICAN CITY — Presenting a book last week on the results of 40 years of dialogue with Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists and members of the Reformed churches, the Vatican’s chief ecumenist was asked about rumors that special provisions would be made for Anglicans wanting to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. The special provision was announced today.
Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, told reporters at the book presentation, “We are not fishing in the Anglican lake; proselytism is not the policy of the Catholic Church.
“But if there are people who obeying their consciences want to become Catholic, we cannot shut the door,” he said.
The movement of Anglicans to the Catholic Church is not new. And it’s not unheard of for Catholics to join the Anglican Communion.
Cardinal Kasper said, “I think there is an agreement between us and the (Anglican) Archbishop of Canterbury that we have to respect their freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.”
At the same time, he said, “we want to continue our dialogue with the Anglican Communion and there is no change in our policy, we go on in our dialogue and in November we will have our meeting” with Anglican representatives aimed at starting a new round of dialogue by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission.
The question of Anglicans joining the Catholic Church is not a matter dealt with directly by the Christian unity council, but by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. A Catholic who wants to become an Anglican or an Anglican who wants to become a Catholic is dealing with “a matter of conscience, a question of faith that must be respected by all partners,” Cardinal Kasper said.
“Nevertheless ecumenical dialogue is not aimed at making proselytism, that is a personal decision for everybody and it’s a work of the Holy Spirit we cannot interfere with.”