Pope and Anglican leader both seek economic system for common good

(Photo: Lambeth Palace)

In their first meeting, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Pope Francis at the Vatican on Friday both agreed on the need to build an economic system which promotes "the common good" to help those suffering in poverty.

The website of the Anglican Communion reported that both spoke of the bonds of "friendship" and "love" between the Roman Catholic Church and the 85-million strong Anglican Communion for which the Archbishop of Canterbury is the spiritual leader.

Pope Francis said, "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….Hence the prayer that we make today is of fundamental importance."

Welby said, "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."

The Pope spoke of 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."

Both Francis and Welby noted that some of the differences between churches made their quest for unity challenging.

"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," said Welby.

He praised the work of popes and archbishops of Canterbury over the past 50 years to bring the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion closer together.

Archbishop Justin wore the episcopal ring famously given to Archbishop Michael Ramsey by Pope Paul VI in 1966.

The two 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.

"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," said Francis.

"Obviously there are big issues (in Anglican-Catholic relations) such as the ordination of women to the episcopate, but where I see a great deal of hope is a welling up of a sense that we cannot tolerate complacently that we live separately....there's a sense of vigour which is important and also important work on the theological level," said Pope Francis.

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