VATICAN CITY — After offering a home in his church to disaffected Anglicans, Pope Benedict XVI assured the archbishop of Canterbury that he is still committed to seeking closer relations between Catholics and Anglicans.
Archbishop Rowan Williams said he came away convinced there was no ''dawn raid'' on his church by Rome, telling Vatican Radio he wishes ''every blessing'' for those who want to become Catholics.
Williams and Benedict met privately for 20 minutes on Saturday in what the Vatican called ''cordial discussions,'' as part of what has clearly been a difficult visit by the Anglican leader.
The Vatican said in a brief statement that the two leaders ''turned to the challenges facing all Christian communities'' and the need ''to promote forms of collaboration and shared witness in facing these challenges.''
Referring to the recent overture for traditional Anglicans upset over the ordination of women and gay bishops to become Catholics, the Vatican said the talks reiterated ''the shared will to continue and to consolidate the ecumenical relationship between Catholics and Anglicans.''
Williams' visit to Rome had been long planned but the Vatican overture to conservative Anglicans, for which he admittedly received little advance notice, cast a shadow over the trip and raised questions about the future of relations between Rome and the 77 million-strong worldwide Anglican Communion, which includes the U.S. Episcopal Church.
In the interview with Vatican Radio after the papal audience, Williams acknowledged the handling of the Vatican move put Anglicans ''in an awkward position for a time. Not the contents so much, as some of the messages that were given out. So I needed to share with the pope some of those concerns and I think they were expressed and heard in a very friendly spirit.''
Williams said he came away assured that it ''did not represent any change in the Vatican's attitude to the Anglican communion as such; and a very strong statement came out.''