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Archbishop of Canterbury meets Pope Francis for the first time

By on Friday, 14 June 2013

Pope Francis and the Most Rev Justin Welby (Photo: PA)

Pope Francis and the Most Rev Justin Welby (Photo: PA)

Pope Francis met the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, for the first time this morning.

In an address after the meeting the Pope said Catholics and Anglicans should work together to challenge secular society, especially on subjects such as “the sacredness of human life or the importance of the institution of the family built on marriage”.

He also stressed the importance of calling for an “economic system that is at the service of man” and of “giving a voice to the cry of the poor”.

Both leaders remarked on the coincidence of their March installations. Francis celebrated his inaugural Mass on March 19 two days before Justin Welby was enthroned as Archbishop of Canterbury.

Before the meeting Archbishop Welby and his wife, Caroline, were expected to visit the tomb of St Peter beneath St Peter’s Basilica before stopping to pray at the tomb of Blessed Pope John Paul II.

Here we publish the complete translation of Pope Francis’s address at the meeting, followed by the complete text of Archbishop Welby’s address:

Your Grace, Dear Friends,

On the happy occasion of our first meeting, I make my own the words of Pope Paul VI, when he addressed Archbishop Michael Ramsey during his historic visit in 1966: “Your steps have not brought you to a foreign dwelling … we are pleased to open the doors to you, and with the doors, our heart, pleased and honoured as we are … to welcome you ‘not as a guest or a stranger, but as a fellow citizen of the Saints and the Family of God’” (cf. Eph 2:19-20).

I know that during Your Grace’s installation in Canterbury Cathedral you remembered in prayer the new Bishop of Rome. I am deeply grateful to you – and since we began our respective ministries within days of each other, I think we will always have a particular reason to support one another in prayer.

The history of relations between the Church of England and the Catholic Church is long and complex, and not without pain. Recent decades, however, have been marked by a journey of rapprochement and fraternity, and for this we give heartfelt thanks to God. This journey has been brought about both via theological dialogue, through the work of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, and via the growth of cordial relations at every level through shared daily lives in a spirit of profound mutual respect and sincere cooperation. In this regard, I am very pleased to welcome alongside you Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster. These firm bonds of friendship have enabled us to remain on course even when difficulties have arisen in our theological dialogue that were greater than we could have foreseen at the start of our journey.

I am grateful, too, for the sincere efforts the Church of England has made to understand the reasons that led my Predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, to provide a canonical structure able to respond to the wishes of those groups of Anglicans who have asked to be received collectively into the Catholic Church: I am sure this will enable the spiritual, liturgical and pastoral traditions that form the Anglican patrimony to be better known and appreciated in the Catholic world.

Today’s meeting is an opportunity to remind ourselves that the search for unity among Christians is prompted not by practical considerations, but by the will of the Lord Jesus Christ himself, who made us his brothers and sisters, children of the One Father. Hence the prayer that we make today is of fundamental importance.

This prayer gives a fresh impulse to our daily efforts to grow towards unity, which are concretely expressed in our cooperation in various areas of daily life. Particularly important among these is our witness to the reference to God and the promotion of Christian values in a world that seems at times to call into question some of the foundations of society, such as respect for the sacredness of human life or the importance of the institution of the family built on marriage, a value that you yourself have had occasion to recall recently.

Then there is the effort to achieve greater social justice, to build an economic system that is at the service of man and promotes the common good. Among our tasks as witnesses to the love of Christ is that of giving a voice to the cry of the poor, so that they are not abandoned to the laws of an economy that seems at times to treat people as mere consumers.

I know that Your Grace is especially sensitive to all these questions, in which we share many ideas, and I am also aware of your commitment to foster reconciliation and resolution of conflicts between nations. In this regard, together with Archbishop Nichols, you have urged the authorities to find a peaceful solution to the Syrian conflict such as would guarantee the security of the entire population, including the minorities, not least among whom are the ancient local Christian communities. As you yourself have observed, we Christians bring peace and grace as a treasure to be offered to the world, but these gifts can bear fruit only when Christians live and work together in harmony. This makes it easier to contribute to building relations of respect and peaceful coexistence with those who belong to other religious traditions, and with non-believers.

The unity we so earnestly long for is a gift that comes from above and it is rooted in our communion of love with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. As Christ himself promised, “where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mt 18:20). Let us travel the path towards unity, fraternally united in charity and with Jesus Christ as our constant point of reference. In our worship of Jesus Christ we will find the foundation and raison d’être of our journey. May the merciful Father hear and grant the prayers that we make to him together. Let us place all our hope in him who “is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Eph 3:20).

Below, please find the complete text of Archbishop Justin Welby’s address to Pope Francis, which was delivered in English:

Your Holiness,
Dear Friends:

I am full of love and gratitude to be here. In the last few days we have been remembering the death of Blessed Pope John XXIII in the midst of the Second Vatican Council. At the Requiem said at Lambeth Palace fifty years ago this weekend by Archbishop Michael Ramsey, my much-loved predecessor said of him: ‘Pope John has shown us again the power of being, by being a man who touches human hearts with charity. So there has come to many a new longing for the unity of all Christians, and a new knowledge that however long the road may be, charity already makes all the difference to it.’

Having for many years found inspiration in the great corpus of Catholic social teaching, and worked on its implications with Catholic groups; having spent retreats in new orders of the Church in France, and being accompanied by the Prior of another new order; I do indeed feel that I am (in the words of Pope Paul VI to Archbishop Michael) coming to a place where I can feel myself at home.
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, and of which this famous ring is the enduring token. I pray that the nearness of our two inaugurations may serve the reconciliation of the world and the Church.

As you have stressed, we must promote the fruits of our dialogue; and, with our fellow bishops, we must give expression to our unity in faith through prayer and evangelisation. It is only as the world sees Christians growing visibly in unity that it will accept through us the divine message of peace and reconciliation.

However, the journey is testing and we cannot be unaware that differences exist about how we bring the Christian faith to bear on the challenges thrown up by modern society. But our ‘goal is great enough to justify the effort of the journey’ (Benedict XVI, Spe salvi 1), and we can trust in the prayer of Christ, ‘ut omnes unum sint’ (Jn 17.21). A firm foundation of friendship will enable us to be hopeful in speaking to one another about those differences, to bear one another’s burdens, and to be open to sharing the discernment of a way forward that is faithful to the mind of Christ pressed upon us as disciples.

That way forward must reflect the self-giving love of Christ, our bearing of his Cross, and our dying to ourselves so as to live with Christ, which will show itself in hospitality and love for the poor. We must love those who seek to oppose us, and love above all those tossed aside—even whole nations—by the present crises around the world. Also, even as we speak, our brothers and sisters in Christ suffer terribly from violence, oppression and war, from bad government and unjust economic systems. If we are not their advocates in the name of Christ, who will be?

Your Holiness, dear brother, I assure you of the love, respect and prayer of the bishops, clergy and people of the Anglican Communion.

Full texts are taken from Vatican Radio.

  • Benedict Carter

    Orthodox rules on marriage, Father Alexander?

  • Alan Whelan

    I am sorry to read so many negatives on this issue. The Gospel of Jesus Christ, The Good News is about love, truth and justice. The Bishop of Rome and Archbihop of Canterbury are both steeped in Christ’s Love and thy have given witness to all of us who follow Jesus of Nazareth.

  • Julian Lord

    semantic gymnastics

    If that’s what he thinks, he’s not understood the contents of my post.

  • Benedict Carter

    PROCEEDS from the Father as a first cause; PROCEEDS from the Son as an expiration.

  • Benedict Carter

    The middle one of those three is very optional for the modern Catholic Church.

    And your list of three doesn’t include sin, Heaven or hell. Very telling.

  • Benedict Carter

    Your version of it.

  • Alan Whelan

    I am amazed that you know me. I use all Church-approved versions (translations) of The Good News. If you are using your real name then I certainly don’t know you and won’t write nything about you.

  • Alan Whelan

    It may be optional for you Benedict but not optional in the Catholic Church as I know it. Despite what you might think Sin and Heaven are mentioned by Catholics in the Creed of basic Christian beliefs. Hell is also a feature of Catholic belief as outlined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

  • Benedict Carter

    I do know that.

    Yet the Salvation of one’s soul, our only task upon this earth, doesn’t get a mention from you. Just the usual justice & peace mantra.

  • Benedict Carter

    Not sure I follow you.

  • Alan Whelan

    Well you seem to indicate that I have a particular version of The Good News. How would you know? Have you studied my writings or heard my teaching. i don’t ever remember meeting you.

  • Alan Whelan

    In the same Catechism there are several mentions of justice and peace.

  • Julian Lord

    Are you two talking past each other ?

  • Julian Lord

    Ben, is this one of your occasional swings at exactly the wrong target ?

  • Hermit Crab

    I also am a tiny bit excited over the news of Bishop Alan Hopes’ progress: he was a clergyman in the C of E, has left it, crossed the Tiber, and has, so far, made it to Bishop of East Anglia.

    Now, someone who has travelled along the conversion road that far, should not be taken too seriously if he says a few polite words about “the ecumenical road”, and its being “a one-way street.” He is going as fast as he can down the opposite one-way street, in exactly the other direction.

  • Alan Whelan

    Progress? Bp Alan’s appintment is exciting to me because I have witnessed his Christ-like presence, especially with young people in Lourdes, in West London and on his visit to Killarney, where I live.

  • Hermit Crab

    I share your affection for him.

    I know Portumna and Connemara: a magical, enchanting land.

  • Guest

    No, they are speaking to each other, but without trying to be rude i’ll speak past them to perhaps answer you’re question. I’ve met many protestants who have had a personal and private revelation of how the scriptures are to be interpreted. It seems to me that this is something BenedictCarter has come across, but ironically Alan Whelan has not.

  • Julian Lord

    hmmmm, OK I can see roughly what you’re getting at, and you have a point.

  • James M

    There is more than one understanding of Church unity, &, so, of how it operates. Maybe there shouldn’t be, but there is.

    It is a mistake to suppose that the C of E, or even the Anglican Communion worldwide, is a sort of “anorexic Catholicism”. It has its own notions about what Church unity implies, and about how authority in the Church functions; and its thinking dovetails or coincides or overlaps with that of Catholicism at some points, while differing from it at others. It is in a class of its own: catholic – but not Papal; Protestant; ancient, yet open to modernity; it is all these, and more, in a way of its own. Unsurprisingly, it can be baffling, if one takes one aspect of it and treat that as defining its entire character. It not is a version or form of Catholicism, but something quite distinct, with many elements that are also found in the CC; whether because both are descended from a shared origin, or because it was in union with the CC, or because both were in union with something else, depends on how the pieces in one’s theological kaleidoscope fall together and the picture they give.

    What one person sees as a “multiplicity of “faiths” that are found within the C of E”, could with equal justice be regarded more benignly, as an expression of variety within unity. The C of E is a bit of a Rorshach blot – the same mark can be seen as different things, without being reducible to either. People tend to see what their sympathies incline them to see. Which is not a problem for Anglicans alone.

  • James M

    “(I invited him to register with the Catholic Herald, but he just smiled)”

    ## Shrewd man LOL – maybe he wanted to avoid the feeding frenzies.

  • ROKA

    This is the mentality your pope must fight.Why do you speak like this when you claim to be a christian.Anglican is a church on its own not part of the selfish political minded house so called christians.We are a Christian House founded on JESUS.

  • Julian Lord

    No, he’s just “better” than us …

  • Benedict Carter

    It is a Church for you. Not as far as we are concerned though.

  • firstparepidemos

    I’m not sure where you are going with this Benedict, as one can hardly compare teaching on matrimony as being of the same importance as that concerning the Trinity (which has been the subject of your discussion with Fr. Alexander). Methinks you just may be trying to catch him out concerning fidelity to Scripture, which is a charge Orthodoxy makes against us; if so, naughty, naughty.

    Anyhoooo, I asked him and he emailed me this link which I now share with you. I’ve read it and it certainly gave me insight into their view and approach.

  • Julian Lord

    Anyhoooo, I asked him and he emailed me this link which I now share with you. I’ve read it and it certainly gave me insight into their view and approach.

    The misrepresentations of the Catholic doctrine in that document are rather extreme

    In orthodox theological thinking this is firstly the reciprocal
    love, the relationship and the help between the marriage partners with view to their completion in Christ. … In the Roman Catholic Church it is evident that the ultimate purpose of marriage is “procreation” or reproduction.

    In fact, Catholic teaching is exactly equivalent to what is being presented here as being solely Orthodox.

    In this sense the orthodox doctrine confirms not only the “indissolubility” of marriage, but also its uniqueness. Every true marriage can be uniquely the “only” one.

    Fair enough, and the Orthodox Patriarchs can certainly rule in this way, but :

    Matthew : {22:23} In that day, the Sadducees, who say there is to be no resurrection, approached him. And they questioned him,
    {22:24} saying: “Teacher, Moses said: If anyone will have died, having no son, his brother shall marry his wife, and he shall raise up offspring to his brother.
    {22:25} Now there were seven brothers with us. And the first, having taken a wife, died. And having no offspring, he left his wife to his brother:
    {22:26} similarly with the second, and the third, even to the seventh.
    {22:27} And last of all, the woman also passed away.
    {22:28} In the resurrection, then, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her.”
    {22:29} But Jesus responded to them by saying: “You have gone astray by knowing neither the Scriptures, nor the power of God.
    {22:30} For in the resurrection, they shall neither marry, nor be given in marriage. Instead, they shall be like the Angels of God in heaven.

    (which of course contradicts neither the above Orthodox nor the Catholic position on this question — but see below !!!)

    THIS however — Orthodox canon law can permit a second and even a third marriage “in economia”, but strictly forbids a fourth. In theory divorce is only recognized in the case of adultery, but in practise is also recognised in light of other reasons. There is a list of causes of divorce acceptable to the Orthodox Church.

    … quite plainly contradicts BOTH Catholic AND Orthodox theology.

    These canon laws are a SCANDAL.

    But now the question remains, what is “economia”? Well, according to the canon law of the Orthodox Church economia is “the suspension of the absolute and strict applications of canon and church regulations in the governing and the life of the Church, without subsequently compromising the dogmatic limitations. The application of economia only takes place through the official church authorities and is only applicable for a particular case.”

    It is hard to see any meaningful justification for such semantic gymnastics to be agreed with.

    NO WONDER the Orthodox have a deep-set problem of Authority among their … what … 14 ? 15? churches ???

    Is this how the Orthodox also justify disobedience to the Pope ?

    It is the precise goal of economia that the weak person not be irrevocably banned from the church communion, according to Christ’s example, who came, after all, to save the lost.

    Unless of course this should be a Faithful Catholic, in which case Holy Communion will very often be denied, right ?

  • firstparepidemos


    Father Alexander says (with a grin) “When I read the personal insult of JabbaPapa, the saying about a pot and a kettle comes to my mind. So many people on this site see themselves as better than those western Christians who do not follow Rome. They offer much criticism of the beliefs of others but dislike it when their own erroneous opinions and beliefs are challenged. This discussion is not bringing anyone closer to the Holy One and it is a vexation to my soul; so, please, no more.”

    I respect the wish of this good and holy priest.

  • Julian Lord

    Case in point.

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