The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Rowan Williams, is to attend the solemn inauguration of the new pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday 24 April in St Peter’s Square in Rome. Archbishop Rowan will become the first serving Archbishop of Canterbury to attend such an occasion, at least since the Reformation. The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity has indicated its ‘great delight’ that he will be attending.

The Archbishop has confirmed that he will, again, be wearing the ring presented to his predecessor, Archbishop Michael Ramsey, by Pope Paul VI and a pectoral cross presented to him by Pope John Paul II.

Archbishop Rowan will travel to Rome on Saturday; he will be accompanied by the Revd Andrew Norman, Archbishop’s Secretary for International and Ecumenical Affairs, and by the Revd Jonathan Jennings, Archbishop’s Press Secretary.

Greetings and prayers for new Pope

Earlier this week, the Archbishop of Canterbury offered his best wishes and prayers for Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger on his election as successor to Pope John Paul II. He said: “We wish Pope Benedict XVI every blessing in the immense responsibilities he is about to assume on behalf of Roman Catholics round the world.

“His election is also of great significance to Christians everywhere. I look forward to meeting him and working together to build on the legacy of his predecessor, as we seek to promote shared understanding between our churches in the service of the Gospel and the goal of Christian unity.

“He is a theologian of great stature, who has written some profound reflections on the nature of God and the church. His choice of the name Benedict suggests that he wants to connect his vision of the Church to the monastic spirit of service and contemplation.

“He will be much in our prayers in the days and weeks ahead.”

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