Pope Francis held an audience with the Archbishop of Canterbury this morning

Pope Francis has told the Archbishop of Canterbury that although unity is distant it is still their goal, during a meeting at the Vatican today.

The Pope and Archbishop Justin Welby prayed together in one of the Vatican chapels following their second private meeting since the Pope’s election.

The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Pope also reiterated their committment to fight modern slavery and human trafficking.

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During his address to Archbishop Welby, Pope Francis said: “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.” He continued: “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.

“Let us look with confidence to the future. The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission 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.”

Pope Francis also discussed the ‘intolerable crime’ of human trafficking. He said: “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.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury said that the crime of human trafficking must be tackled with urgency. He said: “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.”

Speaking of the cuff, Poep Francis told Archbishop Welby not to forget the “three P’s.” He explained that these were: “Prayer, peace and poverty” and added: “We must walk together.”

Full text of Pope Francis’s address.

Full text of Archbishop Welby’s address.

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