Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby issue common declaration

The power of Christ, however, would not be limited by the shame of sectarian division, they said last week

The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Pope of endorsed a Common Declaration marking the fiftieth anniversary since the start of ecumenical relations between the two Christian churches. At a 4 Oct 2016 vespers service held at the Church of Saint Gregory on the Caelian Hill in Rome, the two church leaders said that while differences remain these issues “cannot prevent us from recognising one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.” The declaration noted: “Much progress has been made concerning many areas that have kept us apart. Yet new circumstances have presented new disagreements among us, particularly regarding the ordination of women and more recent questions regarding human sexuality. Behind these differences lies a perennial question about how authority is exercised in the Christian community. These are today some of the concerns that constitute serious obstacles to our full unity.” They offered no ready solutions to the divisions, they said.  “While, like our predecessors, we ourselves do not yet see solutions to the obstacles before us, we are undeterred. In our trust and joy in the Holy Spirit we are confident that dialogue and engagement with one another will deepen our understanding and help us to discern the mind of Christ for his Church.” The power of Christ, however, would not be limited by the shame of sectarian division, they wrote. “We trust in God’s grace and providence, knowing that the Holy Spirit will open new doors and lead us into all truth.” The ceremony was held at the church “from where Pope Gregory sent Augustine to evangelise the Anglo-Saxon people,” they wrote. Pope Francis presented Archbishop Welby with a replica of the Crozier of Pope Gregory saying it “might well symbolise the great ecumenical significance of this meeting” and “our common journey in the footsteps of Christ the Good Shepherd.” Archbishop Welby removed the pectoral cross from around his neck and presented it to Pope Francis, who then put the  Cross of Nails – the international reconciliation ministry based at England’s Coventry Cathedral — around his neck. “Bless His Holiness Pope Francis who inspired by the Cross of Nails, bears witness to the grace and truth of your crucified and risen Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ,” Archbishop Welby said, adding: “I will give this Cross of Nails to His Holiness Pope Francis as a symbol of our partnership in the work of reconciliation. For the Glory of God and the coming of His kingdom of justice and peace.”

 
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