Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, made his observation today, the first day of a visit to the Vatican by the Anglican archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.
"We have … talked about the conflicts and tensions which have arisen in recent months within the Anglican Communion following the ordination of practicing homosexual priests," Cardinal Kasper said on Vatican Radio.
"I expressed my concern because it is not only an internal problem to the Anglican Communion, but also a problem that affects our relations," he added.
The Anglican primate held working meetings with Cardinal Kasper as well as with British Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
This is Dr. Williams' first visit to the Vatican as archbishop of Canterbury. He was appointed to the post by Queen Elizabeth II and confirmed in it last year. John Paul II is scheduled to receive the Anglican archbishop in audience on Saturday.
At the end of a meeting, Cardinal Kasper disclosed that the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion are completing the redaction of a joint document on the Virgin Mary.
Written by a commission of Catholic and Anglican theologians and pastors, the document will focus on the role of Mary in the life and doctrine of the Church.
The commission has considered the dogmas of the Assumption and the Immaculate Conception in the light of Scripture and of the ancient tradition common to both Anglicans and Catholics.
Regarding the ordination of practicing homosexuals, Cardinal Kasper said: "We have a clear position which is expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church; we also have a tradition, a common heritage on this point. We hope they will not abandon this common tradition."
"I expressed my desire, my wish that a solution will be found that is accepted by the Anglican Communion and that will not have repercussions on relations with our Church," he added.
The Anglican Communion will address the issue at a summit in London this month. It will study the appointment by its church in the United States -- the Episcopalian church -- of Gene Robinson, a divorced homosexual, as bishop of New Hampshire.
The Anglican Communion, present in 160 countries, has 70 million faithful, organized in 38 autonomous regional churches.
Anglican-Catholic theological dialogue takes place through two structures: the ARCIC (Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission), instituted in 1970, and the IARCCUM (International Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission).
ARCIC concentrates its works on controversial theological themes between Catholics and Anglicans and has published documents on the Eucharist, ministry, authority, salvation, the Church and moral questions. These documents are submitted to both parties for review and debate. The most recent was the 1999 document "The Gift of Authority."
IARCCUM was instituted during a meeting in Canada in May 2000 and led by Cardinal Edward Cassidy, the then president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and the then archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey. Thirteen primates of Anglican provinces and 13 presidents of Episcopal conferences in the United States participated in this meeting, as did representatives of the Catholic Church.
The duty of IARCCUM is to sustain and support the aims of ARCIC.