News from Europe

Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury promote Christian unity

Marking the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, commissioned pairs of bishops from across the world at Evening Prayer at the Basilica of St Paul’s Outside the Walls in Rome.

This is the second time the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury have delegated Anglican and Roman Catholic bishop pairs. The first commission happened at the church of San Gregorio al Celio in Rome in 2016.

The International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission has organised an event called ‘Growing Together’, whose emphasis is on pilgrimage and communication. The programme has taken place in Rome and Canterbury, with all the bishops attending. They are encouraged to engage in a joint mission to promote theological dialogues between the two traditions. 

When addressing the bishops, Pope Francis said: “Brothers and sisters, fourteen centuries ago, Pope Gregory the Great commissioned Saint Augustine, first Archbishop of Canterbury, and his companions, to set out from Rome to preach the joy of the Gospel to the peoples of England. Today, with gratitude to God for our sharing in the Gospel, we send you forth, beloved co-workers for the kingdom of God, so that wherever you carry out your ministry, you may together bear witness to the hope that does not deceive and the unity for which our Saviour prayed.”

The Archbishop also welcomed the commission: “Brothers and sisters, God reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. As we send you forth from the tomb of the Apostle to the Nations, we call on you to make this ministry your special care. As you preach and celebrate the sacraments with God’s holy people, bear witness to the one hope of your calling. May your ministry alongside one another as Catholics and Anglicans be for the world a foretaste of the reconciling of all Christians in the unity of the one and only Church of Christ for which we pray this day. We must find ways of being joyful in our disagreement, generous in our disputes, hospitable in our differences with one another, in character, in appearance, in temperament and in culture…. around this world we are all deeply different. The Church is the miracle of unity amidst enormous, inhuman, unimaginable difference, which for the world, has always been a reason to fight and conquer one another, not to love and value one another other.”


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