between Anglicans and Roman Catholics will require a "self-giving
love", characterised by "hospitality and love for the poor", the
Archbishop of Canterbury said last Friday, at his first meeting
with Pope Francis.
accompanied by his wife, Caroline, and the RC Archbishop of
Westminster, the Most Revd Vincent Nichols, met Pope Francis at the
Apostolic Palace last Friday morning, after meeting the President
of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal
Archbishop Welby and the
Pope had a private conversation, after which they gave public
addresses, and attended a service of midday prayer together.
The Archbishop, 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 went
on to quote Pope Benedict XVI's 2007 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 as disciples.
"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 and
Pope Francis told
Archbishop Welby: "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 prayer."
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 Church of England'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 "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."