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No protest as Catholics extend olive branch -

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No protest as Catholics extend olive branch

Simon Lauder reported this story on Wednesday, October 21, 2009 12:39:00

ELEANOR HALL: A leading member of Australia's Anglican Church says the move by the Catholic Church
to welcome disaffected Anglicans will help defuse the controversy within the Anglican congregation
over the ordination of women and homosexual people.

The Roman Catholic Church announced overnight that it will allow Anglicans to convert and at the
same time maintain many of their Anglican traditions.

But an Australian Catholic Bishop says he doesn't think this will prompt a wholesale migration, as
Simon Lauder reports.

SIMON LAUDER: Ever since 2003 when the Episcopal Church consecrated openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson
divisions in the Anglican Church have widened, culminating in the announcement from conservative
Anglicans last year that they would set up a rival province in North America.

Now the Vatican has opened a door - setting up a formal structure which will allow Anglican clergy
and parishioners to convert. The announcement was made by the Prefect of the Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal William Joseph Levada.

WILLIAM JOSEPH LEVADA: A very difficult question is the forms in which some provinces of the
Anglican communion have given approval to homosexual activities, such as the ordination of clergy
who are practising homosexuals or the blessing of homosexual unions.

SIMON LAUDER: Anglicans split from Rome in the 16th century when the Pope refused to grant Henry
VIII a divorce. The Vatican's offer to return to the fold is open to Anglican priests who have
committed matrimony and Anglicans will be able to bring their beliefs and ways of worship with
them.

The most senior of the world's 80 million Anglicans, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams,
isn't concerned by the arrangement. He says it just formalises something which has been going on
for years.

ROWAN WILLIAMS: Times when it's been the effect of a particular crisis in the life of the Anglican
Church and times when it hasn't. I don't see this as, in that sense, anything new.

SIMON LAUDER: The arrangement is met with mixed feelings by a leading commentator on Anglican
matters. Dr Muriel Porter, who's also a member of the General Synod of the Anglican Church in
Australia, says it provides an out for Anglicans who object to the ordination of women.

MURIEL PORTER: I think it's rather sad that people feel that they are so concerned about the
thought of women in leadership that they have to take this sort of step. Mind you, quite a number
of Anglicans of a more conservative Catholic persuasion have hankered after this sort of
relationship with Rome for a very long time. What stood in their way was the fact that they were
married.

SIMON LAUDER: The Vatican's decision to cater for disenchanted Anglicans comes after lobbying from
a group of 20 to 30 bishops and hundreds of other Anglicans.

The Catholic Bishop of Townsville, Michael Putney, isn't expecting a mass conversion.

MICHAEL PUTNEY: This group would, as it were, be a distinctive diocese, we call it an ordinariate.
So they would have their, they wouldn't be looking after ordinary catholic parishes, they'd be
looking after parishes for their own people who've come over as a group. So it probably won't make
much difference really.

SIMON LAUDER: So it will create one more rite within the Catholic Church, a group of Anglican
Catholics?

MICHAEL PUTNEY: That's closer to what you're looking at. We already have, you know, a variety of
ways of being Catholic within Australia - we have the Melkite and Maronite, which are Middle
Eastern churches, and the Ukrainians, the Chaldeans from Iraq and so on.

So now we'd have perhaps a small group of former Anglicans who are in full communion with us and
who continue on a certain Anglican ethos.

SIMON LAUDER: So it's more of a niche, it's not going to end the reformation?

MICHAEL PUTNEY: No I don't think it's going to end the reformation. That, we hope, will be ended by
our dialogue with the Anglican communion but this is a small estranged group who want to find their
home with us, and the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith has found a way for them to do it.

ELEANOR HALL: And that's the Catholic Bishop of Townsville, Michael Putney, speaking to Simon
Lauder.