Archbishop of Canterbury's Address to the Pope

Says «We remember the precious spiritual heritage that is common to us both»

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Below is the address of Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby to Pope Francis at their meeting this morning at the Vatican:


Your Holiness, Dear Friends,

My heart is full of gratitude to God, that I have the privilege and pleasure of addressing you once again in this city of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul. I marvel at the way God guides frail human vessels to be bearers of the message of salvation, leaving us a legacy across hundreds of years, to which we in our time are called to be faithful.  We also know that from the start, as for so many at this time, this has been a witness unto death. I was moved to be in Santa Bartolomeo where amongst many recent martyrs, the seven members of the Anglican religious order the Melanesian brotherhood are commemorated. 

Your Holiness much has happened in the year since I first received your gracious hospitality here. I am grateful for the progress that has been made through the generous support of many, to draw to the attention of the world to the evils of Modern Slavery and Human trafficking. The Global Freedom Network can achieve much practically to dismantle what you have so often rightly said is a grave crime against humanity. It is a crime that we all need to overcome as a matter of urgency, as a matter of human dignity, freedom and wholeness of life. May God give us the resolve and cooperation we need together.

With so many around the world I am profoundly grateful for your remarkable witness of care for the poor and suffering of the world, for your passion for reconciliation, as witnessed so recently in your visit to the Holy Land. 

Calling the faithful to pray for peace and reconciliation and doing that publicly is a witness to the power of prayer, one that I have sought to imitate. Such prayers are urgent and vital in so many countries. I especially hope and pray that our collaboration may lead to effective challenge to the unspeakable disaster of wars and civil conflict. In recent months I have travelled with my wife to many of them, into the heart of the areas of war, and the memory of the dead lying unburied and the suffering of the survivors is imprinted on our hearts. What more could be done by our churches together to challenge the resort to war and offer the dream of peace?

Your Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudiam was inspirational for all Christians. The task of making disciples is of compelling urgency so that the light of Christ may shine into every corner of the world.  I have personal reasons for gratitude for the work of the Alpha Course of evangelism, so it is significant for me that it has found a place in the Catholic Church, especially in Latin America.  We continue to develop many other means of evangelism, most recently in the Pilgrim Course, pray that we may continue to learn from one another about the joyful task of leading people to know Jesus Christ.

As we remember the precious spiritual heritage that is common to us both.  I pray for the continuing work of the members of the official groups who conduct our ecumenical conversations.  Remembering always the desire of Our Lord that “all may be one”, we remain deeply committed to this work. I realise that that there are matters of deep significance that separate us. Yet looking back, we see that the Grace of God has led so much to happen. In November this year be it will be 50 years since the decree on ecumenism, Unitatis Redintigradio, was promulged by your blessed Pope Paul VI, and it is right that I should pay tribute to the work of the Holy See through the PCPCU through these fifty years towards the goal of full visible unity. In 2016 we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Archbishop Ramsey’s historic visit, commemorated in the ring given him by Pope Paul VI.

Your Holiness when we first met, I expressed the hope that we might find ways to strengthen what we share, and that we might seek opportunities as pastors of the Christian family to pray, act and speak together. I am glad that there have been opportunities as well for me and His Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols to do just that.  I have found much encouragement in this. A further sign of this joyful intention is the establishment of the Chemin Neuf Community at Lambeth Palace. This religious Order with an ecumenical charism founded by Fr Laurent Fabre, is a daily sign of hope to us in our spiritual life of what we can share spiritually. Last Wednesday I saw again Jean Vanier, and we prayed together. What a gift he is to the whole of the poor of the earth.

Please be assured, Your Holiness, of the continuing respect and affection of the Anglican Communion, and the assurance of our prayers as we seek with you to serve the call of Christ to maturity in faith, and to do so full of joy in service.

I’d like to end with a prayer for the Global Freedom Network in its struggle to persevere against modern slavery and human trafficking: that the Church has the freedom and courage to witness to and to serve the cause for peace, together, globally. Amen.

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