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Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, met for a second time in Rome in June. During their formal meeting Pope Francis called Archbishop Welby a “co-worker in the Lord’s vineyard” and praised ecumenical initiatives like the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) and the Global Freedom Network, a joint movement to combat trafficking and modern slavery that Archbishop Welby also referred to in his address.
The text of Pope Francis’ address to Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby during their meeting in Rome, 16 June.
Your Grace, Cardinal Nichols, Cardinal Koch, dear brothers and sisters,
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!” (Ps 133:1). Once again we meet, Your Grace, as co-workers in the Lord’s vineyard and fellow pilgrims on the path to his Kingdom. I welcome you and the distinguished members of your delegation, and I pray that today’s meeting will serve to strengthen further our bonds of friendship and our commitment to the great cause of reconciliation and communion between Christian believers.
The Lord’s question – “What were you arguing about on the way?” (Mk 9:33) – might also apply to us. When Jesus put this question to his disciples they were silent; they were ashamed, for they had been arguing about who was the greatest among them. We too feel ashamed when we ponder the distance between the Lord’s call and our meagre response. Beneath his merciful gaze, we cannot claim that our division is anything less than a scandal and an obstacle to our proclaiming the Gospel of salvation to the world. Our vision is often blurred by the cumulative burden of our divisions and our will is not always free of that human ambition which can accompany even our desire to preach the Gospel as the Lord commanded (cf. Mt 28:19).
The goal of full unity may seem distant indeed, it remains the aim which should direct our every step along the way. I find a source of encouragement in the plea of the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Ecumenism that we should advance in our relationship and cooperation by placing no obstacle to the ways of divine providence and by not prejudicing future promptings of the Holy Spirit (cf. Unitatis Redintegratio, 24). Our progress towards full communion will not be the fruit of human actions alone, but a free gift of God. The Holy Spirit gives us the strength not to grow disheartened and he invites us to trust fully in the power of his works.
As disciples who strive to follow the Lord, we realize that the faith has come to us through many witnesses. We are indebted to great saints, teachers and communities; they have handed down the faith over the ages and they bear witness to our common roots. Yesterday, on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Your Grace celebrated Vespers in the Church of San Gregorio al Celio, from which Pope Gregory the Great sent forth Augustine and his monastic companions to evangelize the peoples of England, thus inaugurating a history of faith and holiness which in turn enriched many other European peoples. This glorious history has profoundly shaped institutions and ecclesial traditions which we share and which serve as a solid basis for our fraternal relations.
On this basis, then, let us look with confidence to the future. The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission [ARCIC] and the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission represent especially significant forums for examining, in a constructive spirit, older and newer challenges to our ecumenical engagement.
At our first meeting, Your Grace and I discussed our shared concerns and our pain before a number of grave evils afflicting our human family. In particular, we shared our horror in the face of the scourge of human trafficking and forms of modern-day slavery. I thank you for the leadership you have shown in opposing these intolerable crimes against human dignity.
In attempting to respond to this urgent need, notable collaborative efforts have been initiated on the ecumenical level and in cooperation with civil authorities and international organizations. Many charitable initiatives have been undertaken by our communities, and they are operating with generosity and courage in various parts of the world. I think in particular of the action network against the trafficking in women set up by a number of women’s religious institutes. Let us persevere in our commitment to combat new forms of enslavement, in the hope that we can help provide relief to victims and oppose this deplorable trade. I thank God that, as disciples sent to heal a wounded world, we stand together, with perseverance and determination, in opposing this grave evil.
Don’t forget the three “p”:
Prayer, peace and poverty. We must walk together.
We must walk together.
Your Grace, I thank you once more for your visit. I ask the Lord to shower his blessings on your ministry and to sustain you and your loved ones in joy and peace. Amen.
The text of Archbishop Justin Welby's address to Pope Francis during their meeting in Rome, 16 June.
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.