Pope Francis sent a message to Justin Welby, archbishop of Canterbury, on the occasion of his enthronement, which will take place today at Canterbury Cathedral.
In his message the Holy Father thanked the leader of the Anglican Communion for the “kind words” sent to him after his election as Pope last Wednesday.
“The pastoral ministry is a call to walk in fidelity to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Please be assured of my prayers as you take up your new responsibilities, and I ask you to pray for me as I respond to the new call that the Lord has addressed to me,” the Holy Father said.
Pope Francis expressed his hope that he and the Archbishop of Canterbury would meet in the near future, as well as to continue “the warm fraternal relations that our predecessors enjoyed.”
Cultivating ‘Bonds of Affection’
Prior to resigning from the Petrine Ministry, Benedict XVI also sent a message to Archbishop Welby on the occasion of his confirmation of election. The ceremony was held in the Cathedral of St. Paul in London on Feb. 4, one week before the Holy Father announced his resignation.
Benedict XVI’s message is from that date, Feb. 4, but it was just released today by the Vatican.
Benedict XVI offered Archbishop Welby his “prayerful good wishes” on the occasion of his installation.
“You take up your office at a time when the Christian faith is being called into question in many parts of the Western world by those who claim that religion is a private matter, with no contribution to offer to public debate,” Benedict XVI said.
“Ministers of the Gospel today have to respond to a widespread deafness to the music of faith, and a general weariness that shuns the demands of discipleship. Yet the hunger for God, even if unrecognized, is ever-present in our society, and the preacher’s task, as a messenger of hope, is to speak the truth with love, shedding the light of Christ into the darkness of people’s lives. May your apostolate yield a rich harvest and may it open the eyes and ears of many to the life-giving message of the Gospel.”
Benedict thanked God for the “bonds of affection” between Catholics and Anglicans, which he acknowledged had been established through dialogue and collaboration between their respective predecessors.
While recognizing that there are still difficulties and challenges in establishing full communion between Anglicans and Catholics, Benedict XVI stated that unity can only arise as a “gift from the Lord” while entrusting both faiths to the Holy Spirit.
“With sentiments of fraternal regard, I assure you of my prayers as you take up your new responsibilities. Whatever challenges you encounter, may the Lord grant you strength and wisdom, and may the Holy Spirit guide you in all that you undertake in his name,” Benedict XVI said.
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On ZENIT’s web page:
Full text of Pope Francis’ message: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-francis-message-to-archbishop-justin-welby
Full text of Pope Benedict XVI’s message: