I have thus far refrained from commenting on the recent Vatican initiative regarding Anglicans who wish to become Roman Catholics. I did not think that we have given the initiative time for the dust to settle. In my opinion, that situation remains.
Some things, however, are already clear. First, it was an act of insensitivity on the part of certain Vatican officials that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, was not given adequate notice of the initiative.
One wonders, therefore, why he consented to appear in a joint press conference with the new Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, to greet the news.
Archbishop Williams subsequently met briefly with Pope Benedict XVI in November–a meeting that had been scheduled prior to the announcement of the initiative–at which meeting the subject of the initiative reportedly did arise.
The conversation between the two religious leaders was described as frank, but cordial. Indeed, so cordial was the meeting that the pope gifted the archbishop of Canterbury with a pectoral cross -- an implicit, even if unintended, recognition that Rowan Williams possesses valid episcopal orders.