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Pope notes Anglicans' efforts to understand setting up of ordinariate

Pope notes Anglicans' efforts to understand setting up of ordinariate

Robert Mickens in Rome
June 14, 2013

Pope Francis hinted today in his first meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury that he realised the establishment of the Anglican Ordinariate had not always been easy to comprehend.

But he told Archbishop Justin Welby he was "grateful" for "the sincere efforts the Church of England has made to understand the reasons that led my predecessor, 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".

In a public address, following private talks that last just over 30 minutes, Francis said he was "sure" the Anglican Ordinariate, erected in 2009, would "enable the spiritual, liturgical and pastoral traditions that form the Anglican patrimony to be better known and appreciated in the Catholic world".

It was the first meeting between the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Rome, after taking up their respective ministries in March within days of each other.

"I pray the nearness of our two inaugurations may serve the reconciliation of the world and of the Church," the archbishop said in his prepared remarks. Attending were officials from the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the head of the Anglican Centre in Rome (Archbishop David Moxon) and Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster.

Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin addressed each other publicly as "brother" and each spoke of the need of Anglicans and Catholics to witness to the Christian faith together amid the challenges posed by modern society. After the meeting they joined several dozen representatives of the Anglican and English Catholic communities in Rome for a simple midday prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours in one of the Pope's private chapels in the Apostolic Palace. They and their delegations then had lunch together at the nearby Domus Sanctae Marthae, where Francis resides.

The Anglican leader later told reporters that the morning's closed-door talks, assisted by a translator, dealt mostly with spirituality, prayer and common Christian witness. He said he and the Pope did not discuss the ordinariate in that session. An aide said that during the luncheon Francis suggested he and the archbishop should issue a joint statement on human trafficking.

Archbishop Nichols, who accompanied Archbishop Welby and his wife and his private secretary to Rome for the quick visit, said the main purpose was to "begin a very important personal relationship" between the two leaders. He described today's initial meeting as "very personal, very direct and creative". The Archbishop of Canterbury will return to the Vatican in mid-December for his first formal visit.

Above: Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Westminster Archbishop Vincent Nichols hold a press conference at the Venerable English College in Rome after the Anglican head's first encounter with Pope Francis. Welby said he was struck by the Pope's "extraordinary humanity on fire with the spirit of Christ." Photo: CNS photo/Paul Haring

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