Pope Benedict has made it easier for disaffected Anglicans to convert to Roman Catholicism.
Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and spiritual head of the Anglican Church, and Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, stressed dialogue would continue between the two churches.
They were at pains to say it was not a comment on the Anglican Communion, but a response to requests from traditional Anglicans from all over the world.
Williams said he did not see it as an act of aggression, but he had no input in the new "Apostolic Constitution" and was only told about its details two weeks before it was disclosed at the offices of the Roman Catholic Church in London. A simultaneous press conference was held at the Vatican.
The head of the Anglican Church has been trying to keep together the liberal and conservative wings of the church, divided since the consecration of openly gay U.S. Bishop Gene Robinson in 2003 and the blessing of same sex marriages in Canada.