OVERCOMING divisions between Anglicans and Roman Catholics will
require a "self-giving love" characterised by "hospitality and love
for the poor", the Archbishop of Canterbury said on Friday, at his
first meeting with Pope Francis.
Archbishop Welby, accompanied by his wife, Caroline, met Pope
Francis at the Apostolic Palace on Friday morning, after meeting
the President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian
Unity, Cardinal Kurt Koch. The Archbishop and the Pope had a
private conversation, after which they gave public addresses and
attended a service of midday prayer together.
Archbishop Welby, in keeping with custom, wore the episcopal
ring given to Archbishop Michael Ramsey by Pope Paul VI in 1966.
The ring is "a symbol of fraternal love and efforts towards
reconciliation" between the two Churches, Lambeth Palace said.
The Archbishop had not attended the Pope's inauguration (
News, 22 March) because it coincided with the prayer pilgrimage
leading up to his own enthronement (
News, 22 March,
In his address after their meeting, Archbishop Welby
acknowledged that dialogue between the Anglican and RC Churches had
been "a testing journey". He was "not unaware that differences
exist about how we bring the Christian faith to bear on the
challenges thrown up by modern society".
He went on to quote Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical Spe
Salvi: "But our 'goal is great enough to justify the effort of
the journey' . . . and we can trust in the prayer of Christ, ut
omnes unum sint (John 17.21).
"A firm foundation of friendship will enable us to be hopeful in
speaking to one another about those differences, to bear one
another's burdens, and to be open to sharing the discernment of a
way forward that is faithful to the mind of Christ pressed upon us
"That way forward must reflect the self-giving love of Christ,
our bearing of his Cross, and our dying to ourselves so as to live
with Christ, which will show itself in hospitality and love for the
poor. We must love those who seek to oppose us, and love above all
those tossed aside - even whole nations - by the present crises
around the world."
Archbishop Welby said that he prayed "that the nearness of our
two inaugurations may serve the reconciliation of the world and the
Church. . . It is only as the world sees Christians growing visibly
in unity that it will accept through us the divine message of peace
Pope Francis said to the Archbishop: "Since we began our
respective ministries within days of each other, I think we will
always have a particular reason to support one another in
He acknowledged that relations between the two Churches had,
historically, been "not without pain", but said that, in recent
decades, there had been "a journey of rapprochement and
fraternity", including the work of the Anglican-Roman Catholic
International Commission (
News, 31 May), and "the growth of cordial relations at every
level". Such "bonds of friendship" had "enabled us to remain on
course even when difficulties have arisen in our theological
The Pope expressed gratitude for the C of E's "sincere efforts"
to understand the reasons that had led Pope Benedict XVI to set up
the Ordinariate (
News, 18 March 2011). "I am sure this will enable the
spiritual, liturgical, and pastoral traditions that form the
Anglican patrimony to be better known and appreciated in the
The Churches' efforts "to grow towards unity" could be
"concretely expressed in our co-operation in various areas of daily
life", Pope Francis said. These included promoting "the sacredness
of human life" and "the institution of the family built on
marriage," which, the Pope noted, Archbishop Welby had "had
occasion to recall recently" - an apparent reference to his House
of Lords speech opposing gay marriage (
News, 7 June).
The Pope went on: "Then there is the effort to achieve greater
social justice, to build an economic system that is at the service
of man and promotes the common good. Among our tasks as witnesses
to the love of Christ is that of giving a voice to the cry of the
poor, so that they are not abandoned to the laws of an economy that
seems at times to treat people as mere consumers."
Archbishop Welby and Pope Francis's addresses can be read in