The Vatican is considering welcoming into the Roman Catholic Church a group of traditional Anglicans who broke away from the global Anglican Communion nearly two decades ago over women's ordination and other issues, officials say.
Vatican officials stress that no decision has been made and no announcement is imminent. Still, Anglicans across the spectrum of belief are closely watching for any signs of movement.
Absorbing the breakaway Traditional Anglican Communion would be a small but notable victory for Pope Benedict XVI, who has made unifying Christians a goal of his papacy.
At the same time, any invitation by the Vatican is likely to upset leaders of the 77 million-member Anglican Communion and would hurt the Vatican's decades-long efforts to strengthen ties with that fellowship of churches. Anglicans split with Rome in 1534 when English King Henry VIII was refused a marriage annulment.