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The Archbishop of Canterbury is travelling to Rome meet Pope Francis next month to discuss their joint global initiative to tackle slavery and human trafficking.
It will be the second time that Archbishop Justin Welby has met the Pope, almost exactly a year after the two had a private meeting in the Vatican.
Both the archbishop and Pope took up their respective posts within a week of each other and were seen as outsider figures at the time of their appointment.
During his trip, to take place from 14 to 16 June, the archbishop will visit the Anglican Centre in Rome, a church-run refugee project, and the Sant’Egidio community.
He will also meet members of Chemin Neuf, the French Catholic movement with an ecumenical vocation. Four members of Chemin Neuf, including a Catholic and Lutheran, this year took up residence in Lambeth Palace.
In March the Pope and Archbishop Welby announced plans to work together and combat human trafficking. The groundbreaking initiative saw the creation of a Global Freedom Network, which was also endorsed by the Grand Imam of Al Azhar in Cairo, one of the most senior Sunni clerics. A major force behind the project is Australian philanthropist Andrew Forrest, whose anti-trafficking Walk Free Foundation was the network's fourth founding partner. Its inaugural joint statement was released simultaneously in Rome, London, Cairo and Perth.
The GFN seeks to urge faith congregations and businesses to make sure their supply chains and financial investments are “slavery proof”, and educate congregations and schools about human trafficking. The Pope has shown a willingness to tackle human trafficking and last month met victims at a conference on the topic chaired by Westminster Cardinal Vincent Nichols.
Above: Archbishop Welby and Pope Francis last June. Photo: CNS