View From Rome

View from Rome

15 September 2016 | by Christopher Lamb


Worthy speeches, good intentions and friendly words. These are the characteristics that usually define meetings between Catholic and Anglican leaders, while elephants in the room such as women’s ordination and different attitudes to gay relationships are politely avoided.

So will things be any different when Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury meet in Rome next month? There are signs that they might: throughout his papacy Francis’ approach to other Churches has been marked by a willingness to overcome old divisions.

And in a few weeks’ time the Pope will go to Lund in Sweden for celebrations marking the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation, a gesture that is already worrying conservatives.

So we can expect some real shifts in style when Justin Welby comes to Rome from 4-6 October. For a start, he will be joined by 17 other primates from the Anglican Communion, and before their meeting he and the Pope will pray together at the tomb of St Peter. This will be a powerful sign of how Christian unity is being spurred on by the practical, can-do ecumenism of the Jesuit Pope and the evangelical, business-savvy successor of St Augustine of Canterbury.

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