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The Roman Catholic Church leadership made the headlines twice this past week, once because the Vatican has now opened the door to receiving disgruntled Anglican priests into the fold (without having to give up their wives), and once because certain supposedly Catholic Presidents of African countries have been warned that their behavior just won’t do (think Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe).  Here are the links  from the NY Times to the two stories—

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/21/world/europe/21pope.html?th&emc=th

and

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/24/world/africa/24bishops.html?th&emc=th

Unlike some Protestant leaders , the Pope, and indeed Catholic bishops have never been shy about weighing in on matters political or controversial.  In the latter story Mugabe and one other African President is asked to either change his ways or resign!!  I’m trying to imagine a Methodist bishop in the U.S. asking President Obama to do that.  I don’t see it happening.   In some ways the former story is more interesting. Here is a brief quote from the former story—

“Anglicans would be able “to enter full communion with the Catholic
Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual
and liturgical patrimony,” Cardinal William J. Levada, the prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said at a news conference here.

It
was unclear why the Vatican made the announcement now. But it seemed a
rare opportunity, audaciously executed, to capitalize on deep divisions
within the Anglican Church to attract new members at a time when the
Catholic Church has been trying to reinvigorate itself in Europe.

The issue has long been close to the heart of Pope Benedict XVI,
who for years has worked to build ties to those Anglicans who, like
conservative Catholics, spurn the idea of female and gay priests.

Catholic
and Anglican leaders sought on Tuesday to present the move as a joint
effort to aid those seeking conversion. But it appeared that the
Vatican had engineered it on its own, presenting it as a fait accompli
to the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury and the spiritual head of the Anglican Communion, only in recent weeks. Some Anglican and Catholic leaders expressed surprise, even shock, at the news.”

I have asked my friend the good Bishop Tom Wright to comment on this development, but he will wait until he reads the full text of what came out of the Vatican first.  Stay tuned for further comment and developments.   Between the defections in the American Episcopal Church caused by the ordination of gays and lesbians, and now this shot across the Anglican bow from the other side of the ledger things have been difficult for the Anglicans of late. The Anglican communion could certainly use all our prayers about now.

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