Justin and Francis

I was delighted to see that Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Pope Francis took the time to meet in Rome last Friday.

Francis has surprised me in very positive ways, as he has many. Justin gave me hope at the outset, though he disappointed me, as he did many, in his comments to the House of Lords on gay marriage. Still, Justin is on the correct side of many issues, from my admittedly biased perspective.

It was marvelous to see the pope speak of the relationship between the two churches. “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.”

What I was especially delighted to see was the common bond between the two in their commitment to social justice. The Episcopal News Service story summarized it like this:

The two leaders agreed that the fruits of this dialogue and relationship have the potential to empower Christians around the world to demonstrate the love of Christ.

The archbishop and the pope agreed on the need to build an economic system which promotes “the common good” to help those suffering in poverty.

Welby said that Christians must reflect “the self-giving love of Christ” by offering love and hospitality to the poor, and “love above all those tossed aside” by present crises around the world.

The pope said those with the least in society “must not be abandoned to the laws of an economy that seems at times to treat people as mere consumers”.

They also agreed on the need for Christians to act as peacemakers around the world, which they acknowledged could only be done if Christians “live and work together in harmony,” the pope said.

It was a moment of hope and encouragement.

Pope Francis exchange gifts with Archbishop of Canterbury Welby during a private audience at the Vatican


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