So, the Roman Catholics have a new Pope. News reports suggest that Pope Francis may have a go at cleaning up the mess in the Vatican. He may encourage a new interest in the poor and downtrodden. He seems to have no interest in having his church engage in a meaningful way with the important moral issues of the twenty-first century. If Francis has any sense (or ethics), he will keep his nose out of Anglican affairs.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has wished Pope Francis well: “We wish Pope Francis every blessing in the enormous responsibilities
that he has assumed on behalf of Roman Catholics around the world” (See Anglican Communion News Service story here.) He went on to say, “His election is also of great significance to Christians everywhere,
not least among Anglicans. We have long since recognised—and often
reaffirmed—that our churches hold a special place for one another.”
One can question that last statement, of course, at least as far as it was intended to suggest anything like mutual affection. Under Rowan Williams, the Roman Church was like a disapproving parent, with Rowan the prodigal son pleading to return to that parent’s good graces. To the Roman Church, however, Anglicans are just heretics to be either assimilated or left to their own damnation.
Let’s hope that, after his initial welcome, the new Archbishop of Canterbury will pay little attention to the new Pope.