Unity message from Pope and Archbishop Welby

Pope Francis and the new Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury have met for the first time, committing themselves to the search for reconciliation and unity between the Catholic and Anglican communions.

The Pope gratefully recalled that Archbishop Welby prayed for him during the ceremony when he took possession of Canterbury Cathedral.

“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 said.

“The history of relations between the Church of England and the Catholic Church is long and complex, and not without pain,” the Pope acknowledged.

“Recent decades, however, have been marked by a journey of rapprochement and fraternity, and for this we give heartfelt thanks to God.”

Pope Francis also expressed his gratitude for “the sincere efforts that the Church of England has made to understand the reasons that led my predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, to provide a canonical structure able to respond to the wishes of those groups of Anglicans who have asked to be received collectively into the Catholic Church”.

The Pope said this structure “will enable the spiritual, liturgical, and pastoral traditions that form the Anglican patrimony to be better known and appreciated in the Catholic world”.

Wearing the episcopal ring given by Pope Paul VI to Archbishop Michael Ramsey back in 1966, the leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion said: “I am full of love and gratitude to be here.”

“Having for many years found inspiration in the great corpus of Catholic social teaching, and worked on its implications with Catholic groups; having spent retreats in new orders of the Church in France, and being accompanied by the prior of another new order; I do indeed feel that I am (in the words of Pope Paul VI to Archbishop Michael) coming to a place where I can feel myself at home,” Archbishop Welby said.

Stressing the need for unity he added: “It is only as the world sees Christians growing visibly in unity that it will accept through us the divine message of peace and reconciliation.”

Sources:

Vatican Radio

Vatican Information Service

Image: The Times

News category: World.

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