News & Opinion


• St Chad ‘returns’ to Lichfield Cathedral (7 Nov 2022)

• Pope Francis prays for unity of church as he celebrates anniversary of Vatican II (11 Oct 2022)

• Irish Benedictine to lead Vatican’s relations with Anglicans and Methodists (7 Oct 2022)

• ‘Ecumenical winter’ must end, declares Archbishop Welby (8 Sep 2022)

• Archbishop of Canterbury: “In this time of world crisis, Christians are to be a community of peace” (7 Sep 2022)

Archbishops of Canterbury from the Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogues

Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby “undeterred” by “serious obstacles” to unity
5 October 2016 • Persistent link:
Pope Francis gave Archbishop Justin Welby a replica of the Crozier of St. Gregory the Great

The ordination of women and “more recent questions regarding human sexuality” are serious obstacles in the path to unity between Anglicans and Roman Catholics; but they “cannot prevent us from recognising one another as brothers and sisters in Christ”, Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said in a Common Declaration. Speaking of the meeting between Pope Paul VI and Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey in 1966 – the first such public meeting of a Pope and Archbishop of Canterbury since the Reformation – and their Common Declaration, Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby said that their predecessors had “recognised the ‘serious obstacles’ that stood in the way of a restoration of complete faith and sacramental life between us. Nevertheless, they set out undeterred, not knowing what steps could be taken along the way, but in fidelity to the Lord’s prayer that his disciples be one.

“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. 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. We trust in God’s grace and providence, knowing that the Holy Spirit will open new doors and lead us into all truth.”

Archbishop Welby, Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew pray for peace
21 September 2016 • Persistent link:
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Pope Francis at an ecumenical prayer for peace service in Assisi

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew joined Pope Francis in Assisi yesterday (Tuesday) to lead an assembly of religious leaders in prayers for peace. More than 500 Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, Jain, Shinto and Zoroastrian leaders from around the world had gathered in the birthplace of St Francis for the World Day of Prayer for Peace event, which attracted around 12,000 participants. The Pope, Patriarch and Archbishop each gave a meditation on the theme of peace during an ecumenical prayer service to close the three-day prayer gathering, which had been organised by the Community of Sant’Egidio. This week’s event came on the 30th anniversary of the First World Day of Prayer for Peace, which the then-Pope, John Paul II, convened in 1986.

Recollections of the first Anglican-Catholic encounter in the Vatican
2 December 2015 • Persistent link:
Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1945-1961. He was the first Archbishop to visit Rome since the Reformation

On December 2nd, 55 years ago, Pope John XXIII had a private audience with the Archbishop of Canterbury Geoffrey Fisher, the first time that Anglican and Catholic leaders had met together since the Reformation. Following their historic encounter, the archbishop met with Cardinal Augustin Bea, head of the newly established Secretariat for Christian Unity, leading to the invitation of Anglican observers to the Second Vatican Council. The meeting also paved the way for the first official encounter between their successors, Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey in March 1966 and the establishment of an Anglican Centre here in Rome.

Archbishop of Canterbury calls for Primates’ gathering
16 September 2015 • Persistent link:
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Williams standing outside Lambeth Palace

The Archbishop of Canterbury today wrote to all 37 Primates inviting them to attend a special Primates’ gathering in Canterbury to reflect and pray together concerning the future of the Communion. The meeting, to be held in January 2016, would be an opportunity for Primates to discuss key issues face to face, including a review of the structures of the Anglican Communion and to decide together their approach to the next Lambeth Conference. The agenda will be set by common agreement with all Primates encouraged to send in contributions. It is likely to include the issues of religiously-motivated violence, the protection of children and vulnerable adults, the environment and human sexuality. Archbishop Justin Welby said: “I have suggested to all Primates’ that we need to consider recent developments but also look afresh at our ways of working as a Communion and especially as Primates, paying proper attention to developments in the past.”

Archbishop Welby: the Anglican Communion’s challenges and the way forward
17 November 2014 • Persistent link:
The potential of the Communion under God is beyond anything we can imagine or think about - Archbishop Justin Welby

In his Presidential address to the General Synod today, Archbishop Justin spoke about the issues faced by the Anglican Communion and possible ways forward. “During the last eighteen months or so I have had the opportunity to visit thirty-six other Primates of the Anglican Communion at various points. This has involved a total of 14 trips lasting 96 days in all. I incidentally calculated that it involves more than eleven days actually sitting in aeroplanes. This seemed to be a good moment therefore to speak a little about the state of the Communion and to look honestly at some of the issues that are faced and the possible ways forward.”

Archbishop writes to ecumenical partners about women bishops
17 July 2014 • Persistent link:

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has written to ecumenical partners about the Church of England General Synod’s decision to allow women to become bishops, emphasizing that churches “need each other.”

Archbishop Welby meets Pope Francis in Rome
16 June 2014 • Persistent link:

Archbishop Justin Welby and Pope Francis meet in Rome and recommit to the struggle against modern slavery and human trafficking

In their second meeting within eighteen months Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin Welby today recommitted themselves resolutely to the struggle against modern slavery and human trafficking.

Following their first meeting last year the two global leaders have continually spoken out to challenge this crime against humanity, and have acted decisively to support the foundation of the new faith based global freedom network. They both endorsed this network as a crucial force in the struggle to rid the world of a global evil.

Archbishop Justin and Pope Francis back Anglican-Catholic anti-slavery and human trafficking initiative
14 March 2014 • Persistent link:
Inauguration of the Global Freedom Network (Rome, March 2014)

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Pope Francis have given their backing to a ground-breaking ecumenical initiative to combat modern slavery and human trafficking. The agreement to help eradicate an injustice affecting up to 29 million people was co-signed on March 17th by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the Holy See, Archbishop Sir David Moxon; the Chancellor of the Pontifical Academies of Science and Social Science, Bishop Sanchez Sorondo; Dr Mahmoud Azab on behalf of the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Egypt; and Mr Andrew Forrest, the founder of the large international philanthropic anti-slavery organisation from Perth, Western Australia “Walk Free”.

Archbishop Justin meets Pope Francis in Rome
14 June 2013 • Persistent link:
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby greets Pope Francis during visit to Rome

In their first meeting, Archbishop Justin and Pope Francis both spoke this morning of the bonds of “friendship” and “love” between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.

The two leaders agreed that the fruits of this dialogue and relationship have the potential to empower Christians around the world to demonstrate the love of Christ.

The Archbishop and the Pope agreed on the need to build an economic system which promotes “the common good” to help those suffering in poverty.

Roman vespers unite Pope, Archbishop of Canterbury in prayer
12 March 2012 • Persistent link:
Pope Benedict XVI and Archbishop of Canterbury Williams prayed together and lit candles in the chapel of St. Gregory following a March 10 service at San Gregorio Magna al Celio in Rome to mark the 1000th anniversary of the founding of Italy's Camaldoli monastic community

Anglicans and Roman Catholics share a somewhat turbulent history, but differences were brushed aside March 10 when Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and Pope Benedict XVI prayed together during an ecumenical vespers service at San Gregorio Magna al Celio in Rome.

The service marked the 1000th anniversary of the founding of Italy’s Camaldoli monastic community, which includes a presence at San Gregorio, a site of major significance to the origins of the Church of England.

Both Christian leaders, who held a private meeting earlier in the day to discuss human rights issues and concerns for the Holy Land, delivered a homily during the vespers and lit candles together in the chapel of St. Gregory.

Echoing the words of his two predecessors, Williams described the relationship between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church as “certain yet imperfect” during a sermon that extolled St. Gregory’s virtues of humility and prophecy.

“‘Certain’ because of the shared ecclesial vision to which both our communions are committed … a vision of the restoration of full sacramental communion,” he said. “And ‘yet imperfect’ because of the limit of our vision, a deficit in the depth of our hope and patience.” [The full text of the archbishop’s homily is available here.]

The pope, according to a Vatican Radio translation of his address, which was delivered in Italian, expressed hope that “the sign of our presence here together in front of the holy altar, where Gregory himself celebrated the eucharistic sacrifice, will remain not only as a reminder of our fraternal encounter, but also as a stimulus for all the faithful – both Catholic and Anglican – encouraging them … to renew their commitment to pray constantly and to work for unity. …” [The full text of the pope’s homily is available here.]

Archbishop awards Cross of St Augustine to Monsignor Donald Bolen
3 February 2009 • Persistent link:
Monsignor Donald Bolen receives the St Augustine Award from Archbishop Rowan Williams

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has awarded the Cross of St Augustine to Monsignor Donald Bolen for his service to Anglican – Roman Catholic relations.

In a private audience at Lambeth Palace the Archbishop paid warm tribute to the theological acumen and spiritual discernment that Monsignor Bolen had put unreservedly at the service of Anglican – Roman Catholic relations during his seven-year assignment to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in Rome.

He expressed the debt of gratitude owed by the Anglican Communion, the members of the international commissions of the dialogue, and successive Archbishops of Canterbury and their Representatives to the Holy See for his friendship and dedication.

Catholics and Anglicans
4 October 2003 • Persistent link:

When Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher returned from his historic visit to Pope John XXIII in 1960 he reported that the Holy Father asked him when the Anglicans would come back to the Catholic Church. Fisher replied: ‘We cannot come back but we can go forward together.’ At the time this revelation stunned and excited both Anglicans and Catholics. It appeared to mark one the most hopeful moments in the 424 bitter years since Henry VIII broke with Rome and changed the ‘Church in England’ into ‘the Church of England’

On reflection the comment raises more questions than it answers about the one Church that existed before the schism, and about the Churches that might be going ‘forward together’. If there is no going back to the oneness of the Church before 1534, in what sense will the Churches be one in the new togetherness?

A glance at the early Church in Britain, and a more detailed look at some of the various manoeuvrings toward going ‘forward together’ can give us a somewhat better understanding of the difficulties involved.

Statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury on the Publication of ‘The Gift of Authority’
12 May 1999 • Persistent link:

I welcome the publication of the ARCIC‘s latest document, “The Gift of Authority”. I would like to express my thanks to the Co-Chairmen of the Commission, Bishop Cormac Murphy O’Connor and Bishop Mark Santer, together with their colleagues, for all their hard work and dedication.

“The Gift of Authority” tackles the most controversial of theological issues separating Roman Catholics and Anglicans. It is noteworthy that in earlier stages in the life of ARCIC it was recognised that more work would be needed before the same level of agreement could be recorded on Authority as was achieved on the topics of the Eucharist and Ministry and Ordination.

Ramsey Meets Pope in Sistine Chapel
23 March 1966 • Persistent link:

Pope Paul VI today received the archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Michael Ramsey, for the first official meeting between the heads of the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches since the 16th century.

Several hours before the historic meeting in the Vatican, three Protestant demonstrators from Britain heckled the archbishop at a Holy Communion service in the All Saints Anglican church in Rome.

The three, two of them Baptist ministers, stood up at the completion of Ramsey’s sermon and exposed aprons emblazoned, “Archbishop a Traitor to Protestant Britain.”

«« Newer