Since the Church of England began ordaining female priests in 1994, it has been obvious that both sides have abandoned hope of formal union. The hostility over this issue was recently underlined when Cecilia Monge, a former Roman Catholic, was ordained in the Anglican Church in Rome where Dr Carey preached last night after his first meeting with the Pope. Substantive talks between the two leaders will be held tomorrow.
"Even in our sad separation, Anglicans and Catholics have not ceased to be brothers and sisters in the one Lord," Pope John Paul II said yesterday, greeting Dr Carey in his library. It was a mark of the Pope's decreasing vigour that the formal ceremony was held in the recesses of the Vatican rather than anywhere slightly more public.
Dr Carey told the Pope: "We cannot undo overnight doctrinal differences and the bitternesses that have resulted from the legacy of history. But we are able to confront them as fellow Christians."