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Cardinal Willebrands’ reply to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s letter on ordination to the priesthood

Pope John Paul II‘s letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury concerning the ordination of women to the priesthood was prompted by developments in that direction within the Anglican Communion. The Holy Father expressed his concern because of the fact that this question constitutes a new and serious obstacle on the journey undertaken to arrive at the re-establishment of full ecclesial communion between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. When replying to the Holy Father, the Archbishop wrote simultaneously to Cardinal Johannes Willebrands, setting out the theological arguments on the basis of which those parts of the Anglican Communion which have proceeded to the ordination of women to the priesthood hold that they can justify this procedure. In his reply to the Archbishop, Cardinal Willebrands raised questions on the theological arguments in support of the ordination of women mentioned by Archbishop Runcie and drew attention to other theological considerations that must be born in mind. The programme of the international mixed Commission ARCIC-II includes the study of the consequences, for Catholic-Anglican dialogue, deriving from the fact that in some provinces of the Anglican Communion women have already been ordained to the priesthood.” [Information Service 61 (1986/III), p. 106]

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Author(s): Johannes Willebrands
Dated: 17 June 1986

Protocol number: ARCIC-II-47-4
Fonds/Collections: ARCIC-II (Letters, addresses, & greetings)

To cite this document:
Johannes Willebrands. "Cardinal Willebrands’ reply to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s letter on ordination to the priesthood", ARCIC-II-47-4 (17 June 1986). Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue, accessed 20 Oct. 2021.
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