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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Catholic, Anglican Churches Discuss Reunion Under Pope

SYDNEY, Australia -- Issues surrounding a possible reuniting of the Catholic and Anglican churches under the Pope are discussed in a 42-page statement currently being prepared, church leaders said Tuesday.

The statement, titled "Growing Together In Unity and Mission. Building on 40 years of Anglican and Roman Catholic Dialogue," looks at common ground and differences between the two churches and is expected to be published later this year.

"Our ultimate desire is to achieve full visible unity," said Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane John Bathersby, co-chair of the International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission on Unity and Mission, or Iarccum, which is preparing the statement.

"The statement is put forward to foster discussion and reflection," Bathersby said.

Bathersby said the statement, which was leaked by British media Monday, did not offer a conclusion on unity.

He said it was still incomplete and was awaiting a formal response from the Catholic Church and was being discussed by the Anglican Church meeting in Tanzania, adding that the discussion on reuniting the churches under a universal primate, the Pope, have been ongoing for 35 years.

"The separation that exists at the present time is a scandal to people outside the church who say: 'Why can't these Christians get together,'" Bathersby said.

Bathersby said areas where the churches differed included the ordination of homosexuals and women, which has occurred in the Anglican Church.

The Catholic Church has a hierarchical system with Pope Benedict the ultimate authority. In the Anglican Church, the Archbishop of Canterbury is the focal point but each province has autonomy.