Kasper resigns; Koch takes his spot

As John Allen reported yesterday (Triumph of theologians over diplomats in Vatican) Pope Benedict XVI today appointed Bishop Kurt Koch of Basel, Switzerland, as president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Koch succeeds Cardinal Walter Kasper, who has reached retirement age.

Here is the first reaction I have seen to Kasper's resignation: The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, said:

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"Working with Cardinal Kasper in recent years on so many matters of ecumenical concern has been an inestimable pleasure and privilege. We have been able not only to meet in the setting of official dialogue and exchange between our communions – most notably when he led the large Roman Catholic delegation to the 2008 Lambeth Conference; but we have also shared platforms in many other contexts – among them Jewish-Christian dialogue, meetings of the L'Arche and Sant'Egidio communities, and on pilgrimage at Lourdes. In all these varied contexts I have profoundly appreciated the warmth and insight of a great theologian who is also a man of prayer and pastoral sensitivity.

Anglicans have always been made welcome by Cardinal Kasper in Rome. We have felt ourselves to be received as brothers and sisters in a common faith and mission, notwithstanding the many challenges that arise for ecumenical dialogues in our day. He will be greatly missed by his many friends in the Anglican Communion, not least myself. We wish him every blessing in all that lies ahead, and look forward to continuing, with his successor Archbishop Kurt Koch, our fruitful relationship with the Holy See."

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