Pope prays for end to rifts in Anglican church
ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (AP) Pope Benedict XVI said Saturday that he is praying there will not be any more rifts in the Anglican community following the recent Church of England decision on women bishops.
Answering questions from journalists aboard his flight to Australia, Benedict touched briefly on the turmoil in the Anglican church.
"I am praying so that there are no more schisms and fractures" within the Anglican community, Benedict said.
On Monday, the Church of England's ruling body voted its support for women to become bishops. That stance risks causing further division among Anglicans, since traditionalists are opposed to that idea.
The Episcopal Church, the Anglican body in the U.S., is led by a woman, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.
The Anglican Communion, a 77 million-member family of churches that trace their roots to the Church of England, also is wrestling with other contentious issues gay clergy and the blessing of same-sex marriages.
Benedict said he did not want to "interfere" in the debate.
Still, the Vatican on Tuesday said the decision by the Church of England to allow women to become bishops will be an obstacle to its reconciliation with the Roman Catholic Church. The Vatican does not permit the ordination of women.
Anglicans split from Rome more than four centuries ago, when English King Henry VIII bolted in 1534 after papal refusal to grant him a marriage annulment.
Catholics and Anglicans have been engaged in talks to overcome theological divisions.