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Pope and Primate focus on slavery

20 June 2014


Admitted charges: Jurate Grigelyte, from Bristol, was jailed for three years on Wednesday, after trafficking people into the UK from Lithuania. Two women and nine men were forced to live in squalid, cramped conditions, and forced to work for no wages. Detective Constable Richard O'Brien said that the Salvation Army worked with Avon & Somerset Police to oversee the relocation and support of six of the victims; the others were cared for within the Lithuanian community 

Admitted charges: Jurate Grigelyte, from Bristol, was jailed for three years on Wednesday, after trafficking people into the UK from Lith...

THE second meeting between the Archbishop of Canterbury and Pope Francis focused on their joint effort, announced earlier this year (News, 21 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.

Paul Vallely

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