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Dr Rowan Williams to address world gathering of Catholic bishops

Pope Benedict XVI is assisted by Mgr Leonardo Sapienza walking up the stairs of the Church of St Gregory with Dr Rowan Williams (CNS photo)

Pope Benedict XVI has invited the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, to address the world Synod of Bishops on the new evangelisation in October.

The news emerged after the two leaders met and prayed together at the Church of St Gregory on the Caelian Hill in Rome, from which Pope Gregory the Great sent St Augustine of Canterbury and his fellow monks to evangelise England in 597.

Dr Williams told Vatican Radio: “I’m being invited to give some theological reflections on the nature of mission, the nature of evangelisation, and I’m extremely honoured to be invited to do this.

“I hope that it’s a sign that we can work together on evangelisation in Europe,” the archbishop said. “It’s disastrous if any one church tries to go it alone here and tries to assume that it and it alone has the key”, because reviving the Christian faith in Europe requires as many and “as deep resources as we can find”.

The evening service in Rome was part of celebrations marking the 1,000th anniversary of the founding of the Camaldolese branch of the Benedictine order. Camaldoli monks and nuns live and pray at the Church of St Gregory and have an active programme of ecumenical contacts.