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Church of England primate to visit pope on June 14

Justin Welby to make 'informal courtesy visit'

04 June, 16:25
Church of England primate to visit pope on June 14 (ANSA) - Vatican City, June 4 - The pope will hold his first meeting with the new head of the Church of England and spiritual head of the global Anglican Church on June 14, Vatican Radio announced on Tuesday.

The new archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, will be making an "important" but "informal, brief courtesy visit" to Pope Francis, Monsignor Mark Langham said on Vatican Radio.

Welby was unable to attend the March 19 inaugural mass that launched Pope Francis' pontificate, because Welby was busy with preparations for his own enthronement, scheduled just two days after.

The meeting has been scheduled so that the heads of the two churches can "get to know each other better and more deeply," said Langham.

Welby wants very much to meet Francis and to collaborate on themes of justice and the fight against poverty, Langham added.

Welby will also visit the tomb of John Paul II and meet with Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Koch will lead a common prayer with Welby, and the pair will luncheon together at Saint Martha's, the lodging house for Vatican visitors where Francis has opted to live, before the Anglican primate returns to London.

The Church of England broke from papal authority in the 16th century, temporarily under King Henry VIII and Edward VI, then permanently under Queen Elizabeth I.

Francis' predecessor Benedict XVI strained relations with the Anglican Church by allegedly high-handedly establishing a process for disaffected Anglicans to 'return to Rome'.

Francis has made uniting Christian churches a priority for his pontificate along with fighting against poverty and for justice. The pontiff reached out to other religions and Christian churches after his inaugural mass in March, telling visiting leaders he was "determined" to pursue dialogue with them in respect and friendship.

He said that unity among Christians is "the first and foremost of our concerns, one of the basic requirements for our Christian testimony to be credible" to those on the fringes or outside the church.

Pope Francis greeted Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I - an important patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church - as his "brother Andrew" in March, a reference to St.

Andrew and shared historical and spiritual roots.

Bartholomew I attended the pope's inaugural mass and also expressed hope for greater union with the Catholic Church.