Pope Francis has said he and the Archbishop of Canterbury must focus their joint witness on “prayer, peace and poverty”.
In an audience with Archbishop Justin Welby this morning, the Pope departed from his official text and spoke in English.
“Don’t forget the ‘three Ps’,” he said. “Prayer, peace and poverty. We must walk together.”
Earlier in his address Francis had said he and the archbishop must “stand together” in combating human trafficking – while divisions between Christians remained a scandal.
The Pope praised the leader of the Anglican Communion for his leadership on seeking to overcome trafficking and slavery.
“I thank God that, as disciples sent to heal a wounded world, we stand together, with perseverance and determination, in opposing this grave evil,” the Pope said.
Archbishop Welby is in Rome for a two-day visit during which he has met a victim of trafficking and held talks with senior Vatican figures on how to combat the crime.
Among those accompanying the archbishop at the audience were Westminster Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Revd Nicky Gumbel, the pioneer of the Alpha course, an introduction to Christianity course that has become popular in a number of traditionally Catholic countries in Europe.
In his address to the Pope, Archbishop Welby called on the two Churches working together to evangelise, and cited the Alpha course as an example.
Along with fighting trafficking, the archbishop also said he hoped Anglicans and Catholics to join together to bring peace to war-torn parts of the world.
Elsewhere in his address, the Pope described divisions between Christians as a scandal caused by the burden of disagreement and “human ambition which can accompany even our desire to preach the Gospel.”
He went on: “The goal of full unity may seem distant indeed, yet it remains the aim which should direct our every step along the way.”
The Pope cited the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Ecumenism that said no obstacle should be placed to the “future promptings of the Holy Spirit” in the progress towards full Communion.
Archbishop Welby wore the episcopal ring given by Pope Paul VI to Archbishop Michael Ramsey following their meeting in 1966 and at the end of the meeting he and the Pope prayed together privately.
Last night, at a reception at the Anglican Centre in Rome, Archbishop Welby launched a new website for Anglican-Catholic relations www.iarccum.org
Speaking at the reception he stressed that: “Good theology is crucial to good church building.”
The archbishop said that Anglicans and Catholics had to “get away from being quite comfortable with the fact we live separately, but find a way to work together.”