Pope and Archbishop of Canterbury pray together in Rome

Pope Benedict and the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, spiritual leader of the Church of England, on Saturday afternoon gave thanks together on the 1000th anniversary of the Camaldoli monastic community and celebrated Vespers in the church of St Gregory on the Caelian Hill.

Williams is the third successive archbishop of Canterbury to visit San Gregorio al Celio, the place from where Pope Gregory the Great sent out Augustine and 40 of his monks to take the gospel to England.

“It is good to touch the soil on which your are nurtured,” Williams said.

Both leaders made only glancing references to the divisions between their Churches.

Pope Benedict called the celebration a “stimulus for all the faithful, Catholic and Anglican, encouraging them to renew their commitment and prayer for the unity that Jesus himself asked of His Father.”

Williams spoke of the “certain but imperfect” link between the two Christian traditions.

Previous popes and Anglican leaders have raised more ‘testy’ topics such as women priests, homosexuality and Church doctrine.

That none of these issues were addressed publicly will be seen my many as a sign just how entrenched the differences have become, reports Reuters.

Before leaving the church, the two leaders lit a candle in the small chapel thought to have been Pope Gregory’s simple monastic cell – a tangible reminder of the need to continue bringing the light of the Gospel to today’s world.


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