THE second meeting between the Archbishop of Canterbury and Pope
Francis focused on their joint effort, announced earlier this year
March), to eradicate slavery, which, they agreed, was "a great
crime against humanity".
They met in Rome on Monday. Both spoke about the Global Freedom
Network, an ecumenical organisation that seeks to end human
trafficking. Pope Francis said: "I thank God that, as disciples
sent to heal a wounded world, we stand together, with perseverance
and determination, in opposing this grave evil."
The idea of collaboration on this issue came out of an informal
conversation at their first meeting last year (
News, 14 June 2013).
A Modern Slavery Bill, which would strengthen punishments for
traffickers and establish an Anti-Slavery Commissioner, was
published by the Home Office last week. The draft Bill was praised
by Archbishop Welby in April (News, 11 April).
Unity in matters of faith was also on the agenda. The Archbishop
visited the Anglican Centre in Rome to hear of the work of the
International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity and
Mission. He said: "I realise that there are matters of deep
significance that separate us . . . [but] remembering always the
desire of our Lord that 'all may be one', we remain deeply
committed to this work."
The 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council's decree on
ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio, falls in November. The
Archbishop and Pope recalled this document as the foundation of the
continuing effort towards uniting the two Churches.
The Pope described division between Rome and Canterbury as "a
scandal", and said: "[Though] the goal of full unity may seem
distant indeed, it remains the aim which should direct our every
step along the way. Our progress towards full communion will not be
the fruit of human actions alone, but a free gift of God."
Archbishop Welby gave the Pope a cutting from a fig tree in
Lambeth Palace. The tree was brought to London from Italy by
Cardinal Pole, the last Archbishop of Canterbury to have been in
communion with Rome, in 1556.
The Archbishop met other members of the RC hierarchy in Rome,
and met members of Chemin Neuf, the ecumenical religious community
that now has a presence at Lambeth Palace (News, 28 February). He
preached at vespers in San Gregorio al Celio, the church from which
St Gregory the Great sent St Augustine's mission to England.