FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT IN ROME
SWIFT new moves to consolidate and extend the enormous advance in Anglican-Roman Catholic relations are expected to follow this week's historic meeting between Pope Paul and the Anglican Primate, Dr. Ramsey.
Leading officials in both Churches are delighted at the progress made in the two-day discussions between the Pope and Primate. They say that the next major step will be to set up the joint committee which will examine differences on doctrines and practices between the two Churches.
Though this will take some time. the officials said that the warmth of the personal encounter between the two leaders ensured that it would be pushed ahead as quickly as possible.
They envisage that the committee will be similar to that set up by the Anglican and Orthodox Churches last year. This was due to meet in September next but it is thought likely that its first meeting may not be until early next year.
This week's meeting of Pope and Primate was of key importance. It was not. just a repeat of the 1960 visit by the then Archbishop of Canterbury to Pope John XXIII, since Dr. Fisher, as he then was went in a personal and private capacity. This time, Archbishop Ramsey went as Primate of the whole Anglican communion, which embraces 17 Churches with 45 million baptised members.
Thus, any joint action involves not merely Anglicans in England, but Anglicans throughout the world and from this it could extend to other communions with which the Anglicans may soon unite.
The new joint committee will undertake the study of common problems and the strengthening of contacts on all fronts between all Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism. It will act on both levels of doctrine and of down-to-earth practical problems, such as mixed marriages.
Pope Paul had set the tone for the meeting in his usual address to the crowd in St. Peter's Square last Sunday. He said that the visit was not yet a visit of perfect union between the Catholic and
Anglican Churches "but a visit of friendship and introduction to union. "We are moved and happy and pray that the Lord will concede to His Church that unity of all the Christians that He has urged to us so much," he declared.
It was at Wednesday morning's ceremony in the Sistine Chapel that the 400-year-old rift between Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism w a s crossed for the first time. In a brief ceremony, lasting only twenty minutes, Dr. Ramsey and Pope Paul constructed a bridge which the Pope, in his address called a "yet unstable viaduct, still under construction".
Pope and Primate sat on identical red-and-gold armchairs at the foot of the steps leading to the altar in the Sistine Chapel where Popes are elected.
Their addresses of welcome were received with great applause and there was a great burst of spontaneous clapping, not scheduled on the programme, when the two Church leaders embraced.
The Archbishop staved in the suite in the English College usually occupied by Cardinal Heenan at the invitation of the Cardinal and the British H iera rch y.
Bishop Holland of Salford, who is a member of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, represented the Hierarchy of England and Wales.