In an ecumenical meeting Justin Welby, the primate of the Anglican Church, met with the Pope Francis. Welby said he “felt at home in the Vatican.” The two men were installed in their respective roles within days of each other.
There are strains between the two churches over ordination of female, and gay and lesbian priests and bishops in the Anglican Church and over the celebration of same-sex marriages.
Pope Francis noted that though there has been a long history of issues between the two churches, recent decades have been “marked by a journey of rapprochement and fraternity.”
“These firm bonds of friendship,” he said, “have enabled us to remain on course even when difficulties have arisen in our theological dialogue…”
Anglo-Catholic relations were also strained over pope Benedict XVI’s establishment of an ordinariate for Anglican churches and groups of churches that want to join the Catholic Church over disagreement with the liberal direction of the Anglican Church.
Pope Francis found reasons to praise the Anglicans for their understanding concerning the Catholic ordinariates aimed at bringing Anglican churches and groups into the Catholic Church, and their defense of the sacredness of traditional marriage and human life.
Welby said that he is inspired by Catholic social teachings, and that “he feels himself at home at the Vatican.”
Welby is dedicated to unity with the Church of Rome. “Your Holiness, we are called by the Holy Spirit of God, through our fraternal love, to continue the work that has been the precious gift to popes and archbishops of Canterbury for these past fifty years…” he said. “I pray that the nearness of our two inaugurations may serve the reconciliation of the world and the Church,” he added.
“…Where I see a great deal of hope is a welling up of a sense that we cannot tolerate complacently that we live separately.”
The praise was mutual. Following a joint prayer service, Welby praised Francis as a man of “extraordinary humanity, on fire with the Spirit of Christ.”
The ecumenical movement is alive and well. “And his deadly wound was healed…” Revelation 13:3