Friendly first meeting for Pope and Anglican leader

The Archbishop of Canterbury and Pope Francis meeting in Rome

The Pope and Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, got on very well with each other in their first meeting. After talking in private for half an hour, then prayed and had lunch together, reports Vatican Insider.

Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, on Friday met for the first time in the Vatican since they both took over leadership positions in their respective Churches mid-March. They got on very well together, according to persons accompanying them.

They sat and talked together in private for over thirty minutes in the Pope’s library on June 14, with the aid of an interpreter. Afterwards they prayed together and had lunch together with their respective delegations, in the Domus Sancta Marta, the Vatican guesthouse where Pope Francis now lives.

“It was a personal visit. And the private conversation with Pope Francis was very personal indeed; (it was) a very private discussion about the nature of our faith and of our spirituality of prayer, of the experience of the grace and mercy and love of God”, Archbishop Welby said at a press briefing at the Venerable English College, before returning to London.

“We also touched on other subjects to do with international issues where we looked for ways in which the Churches can develop cooperation and demonstrate our affection for each other, which is a real affection at a very deep level”, he added.

One participant later revealed that over lunch the Pope suggested that he and the Archbishop of Canterbury should issue a joint statement on human trafficking and the exploitation of women and children. The Archbishop agreed.  In the course of the morning they also touched several other issues including the question of world poverty, hunger, the need for ethics in finance and business, and conflict situations.  The Pope mentioned the dramatic situation in Syria in his speech, an issue that the Archbishop of Canterbury is also deeply concerned about.

Questioned whether he and Pope Francis had discussed the question of marriage and the debate over gay marriage, Archbishop Welby said “we are absolutely at one on the issues” by which he meant on the question of marriage (understood in the traditional Christian sense as between a man and a woman).

He revealed that the Pope told him that he had read the speech he given recently to the House of Lords in which he opposed the British Government’s bill to introduce marriage between persons of the same sex. 


Friendly first meeting for Pope and Archbishop of Canterbury (Vatican Insider)

Pope and Archbishop: unity begins with common love of God (CNA)

Pope, Anglican leader meet (CNS)

Archbishop of Canterbury meets Pope Francis for first time (Catholic Herald)

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