At Politics Daily, David Gibson wonders whether the Pope’s plan to allow Anglicans to join the Catholic Church without renouncing their traditions or beliefs is a “welcome mat” or a “hostile takeover”:

So why did [Rowan] Williams, head of a storied and global church, submit to such a public spectacle?

Part of the reason is that he has high regard for ecumenical dialogue and wants to pursue good relations with Roman Catholicism, with which he himself has a great affinity. Besides, it was recently announced that Pope Benedict XVI will visit Great Britain next year, an already delicate matter given Catholicism’s troubled history in England.

But Williams also had little choice. Since his election as archbishop of Canterbury in 2003, Williams—widely considered one of the most penetrating intellects in Christendom, as well as a gracious soul—has struggled to keep an increasingly fractious church together. The archbishop of Canterbury has none of the unilateral authority that a pope enjoys in Catholicism, and is more a “first among equals” who must convince rather than command the leaders of the 37 other autonomous provinces of the Communion.

And with American Episcopalians ordaining an openly gay bishop in 2004, and his own Church of England voting to allow women as bishops (women had already been allowed to be priests), he has had a lot of convincing to do.

Read the entire piece here.