Roman Catholic and Orthodox theologians reported promising progress on Friday in talks on overcoming their Great Schism of 1054 and bringing the two largest denominations in Christianity back to full communion. Experts meeting in Vienna this week agreed the two could eventually become “sister churches” that recognize the Roman pope as their titular head but retain many church structures, liturgy and customs that developed over the past millennium.
The question of how many Anglicans will join the Roman Catholic Church has been hanging in the air since Pope Benedict made his offer last October to take in Anglican groups that cannot accept reforms such as ordaining women bishops. The largest figure mentioned is the 400,000-strong membership of the Traditional Anglican Communion, a traditionalist group that is not actually a member of the Anglican Communion that most Anglicans belong to. It is sometimes presented as a bloc whose transfer will be an important event.
The Spanish Catholic Church will deny communion to members of parliament who have voted in favour of a bill to make abortion more readily available, the spokesman of Spain’s Bishops’ Conference said on Friday.
A new row has flared in the Catholic ranks of the U.S. abortion wars, this one involving a member of America’s most famous Catholic political family and a bishop. Congressman Patrick Kennedy, the son of the late Senator Edward Kennedy, has claimed that Rhode Island Bishop Thomas Tobin has slapped a communion ban on him for his support for abortion rights.