Anglicans and Roman Catholics reported progress yesterday on moves toward healing their 450-year-old split and said their churches are ready for a "new relationship."
A report by an international commission of the two churches, capping 16 years of talks, said the pope should be the "universal primate" of a united church. But the report acknowledged this would be difficult for many Anglicans to accept and officials of both churches conceded no union is likely in this century.
Two bishops heading the commission hinted at storms ahead as their churches study the report, but it immediately was "warmly" welcomed by the Most Rev. Robert Runcie, Archbishop of Canterbury and spiritual head of the 65-million-member worldwide Anglican Communion, including 3 million U.S. Episcopalians.
Militant members of other Protestant faiths said they will rally to stop any "takeover" of the Church of England--the state church--because they see Anglican-Catholic unity moves as undermining the authority of the British monarch. The monarch is temporal head of the Anglican church.
Runcie's church was established in 1534 by King Henry VIII, who broke with the Vatican over the pope's refusal to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon.