Archbishop Justin Welby and Pope Francis discussed migration, climate change and the peacebuilding role of churches, when they met at the Vatican this weekend.
On the same morning that 21 new Catholic Cardinals from all over the world received their red birettas in St Peter’s Square in Rome, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, had a long, private meeting with the Pope, at the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican.
Lambeth Palace reports that among other topics the two spiritual leaders shared memories of their historic joint visit to South Sudan earlier this year. The mainly Christian country is preparing for presidential elections in a year's time, its first since winning independence from neighbouring Sudan more than a decade ago.
Archbishop Justin Welby said: “It’s always a privilege to meet with my dear brother, Pope Francis. Today we shared our hopes for South Sudan, and discussed the impact of migration and climate change on the world’s poorest."
Pope Francis has spoken publicly in recent weeks about the "globalisation of indifference” in the Western world towards many of the world's biggest challenges.
The Archbishop continued: "May our churches be united in bringing Christ’s good news to a world in need.”
According to Lambeth Palace, Pope Francis also asked about a peacebuilding mission led by Archbishop Welby’s wife Caroline Welby. 'Women on the Frontline' equips women to be reconcilers in places of conflict.
The two leaders, who are both charismatic and believe in the continuing use of spiritual gifts, then shared with each other about the Holy Spirit's power to bring harmony, though "not always tidiness".
While in Rome the Archbishop of Canterbury officially opened a special exhibition at the John Moorman Memorial Library at the Anglican Centre in Rome. It includes a piece of pottery by Rebecca Cottrell, a professional potter and wife of the Archbishop of York.
Justin Welby also took part in an ecumenical prayer vigil in St Peter's Square, ahead of a 3-week Synod meeting where Catholic leaders will discuss some of the issues facing the church including the role of women, LGBT+ Catholics, and celibacy for priests. Pope Francis invited the leaders of Churches from different denominations to join him in prayer, entrusting the work to the Holy Spirit.