The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Pope met for about twenty minutes on Monday to discuss Christian-Muslim relations, Christian churches in China and for Williams to update Benedict on plans for the upcoming Lambeth Conference.
Vatican Radio interviewed Williams before he met with Benedict XVI, asking him what the goals of the meeting would be. The Archbishop said:
"Well it’ll be a fairly informal and low key meeting: I hope to bring him up to date on our plans about the Lambeth conference, perhaps to discuss with him a little what’s going to be happening at the conference this week at Palazzola and just touch base with him about China, the initiatives we’re involved in with regard to the churches in China.
You can hear the interview here.
Pope Benedict and the Archbishop of Canterbury discussed Christian-Muslim relations on Monday in their first meeting since the Anglican leader caused a storm with comments on the role of Sharia law in Britain.
The Vatican said the Pope had received Rowan Williams in a private audience but gave no details.
An Anglican spokesman said the two spoke privately for about 20 minutes and discussed Christian-Muslim relations, inter-faith dialogue and the Pope's impression of his visit to the United States last month.
He described the visit, the second official meeting between the Pope and the spiritual leader of the world's 77 million Anglicans, as "warm and friendly".
Zenit offers this on the current relationship between Rome and Canterbury:
Vatican Radio noted that some people consider the current relationship between the Holy See and the Anglican Communion to be in its most difficult moment since the Second Vatican Council.
"It depends where you're looking from," Williams responded. "I think that in terms of the conflicts within the Anglican Communion then yes, it's an unprecedentedly difficult time, no two ways about that."
The Anglican Communion is facing a fracture because parts of the group, notably the Episcopal Church in the United States, have approved the ordination of women and homosexuals as bishops.
However, Williams noted that partially through the work of the Anglican Center in Rome, "tremendously deep foundations have been laid" in the Anglican-Catholic relationship.
The Anglican Center was founded in 1966 on the wave of ecumenical enthusiasm engendered by Vatican II and the birth of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission.
The center aims to encourage a special relationship between Anglicans and Roman Catholics through enabling full and frank discussion and debate on issues which unify them, and on those which divide them. The director is also the archbishop of Canterbury's representative to the Holy See.
During his time in Rome, Williams will preside at a service for the inauguration of the new director of the Anglican Center in Rome, the Reverend David Richardson.
Williams said the work of the center is "the other side of the story" regarding the Anglican Communion's relationship with Catholicism.
"Partly because of the work of the previous couple of directors, especially Bishop John Flack, tremendously deep foundations have been laid of personal trust and confidence and in terms of ease of access and honesty of discussion," he said. "I think we're in a very good phase and I'm absolutely confident the new director will be building on that."
The Guardian says, "despite his conservative views on women priests and homosexuality, Pope Benedict appears determined to bolster Williams's leadership in the name of Anglican unity."
Vatican Radio: Pope Meeting with Head of Anglican Communion.