Abp Welby affirms his commitment to reconciliation between Eastern and Western churches
The Archbishop of Canterbury affirmed his commitment to the reconciliation of Eastern and Western churches during a meeting with His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew yesterday.
From Lambeth Palace press office
The Most Revd Justin Welby was meeting with Patriarch Bartholomew during a two-day visit to Istanbul.
During their meeting Archbishop Justin said that Patriarch Bartholomew had been “an example of peace and reconciliation, politically, with the natural world, and in your historic visit to the installation of His Holiness Pope Francis I.
“Such reconciliation [is] very dear to my heart and is one of my key priorities. It is the call of Christ that all may be one so that the world may see. I will therefore be taking back with me the warmth of your hospitality and also, after our discussions today and tomorrow, a renewed and refreshed focus for greater unity and closer fellowship. We want to carry the cross of our divisions, but be filled with the hope and joy that comes from the grace and the love of Jesus.”
Archbishop Justin travelled to Istanbul on Monday at the invitation of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who, as Archbishop of Constantinople and New Rome, occupies the First Throne of the Orthodox Christian Church.
His visit included an official reception in the Chamber of the Throne, a discussion with the Synodical Committee for Inter-Christian Affairs, and a visit to the Holy Theological School of Halki.
Archbishop Justin told Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew it would be a privilege to welcome him to London in 2015.
Read the Common Statement from both leaders below
Common statement issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury and His-All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew:
His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and His Grace the Most Revd and Rt Honorable Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury met at the Phanar, Istanbul from 13th-14th January, 2014, for their first meeting since the Most Revd Justin Welby was enthroned as the Archbishop of Canterbury about one year ago. The meeting took place in an atmosphere of friendship and warmth. Both leaders agreed to focus on the continuation of close relations, the importance of the ongoing theological dialogue, and the commitment of the Anglican Communion and the Orthodox Church to greater cooperation for a common witness in an increasingly secular and pluralistic world, particularly in Europe. They expressed concern for the injustice in many parts of the world and prayed especially for the poor, the oppressed, and those caught in war, for peace and justice in the entire world, particularly in the Middle East, but also in other parts of the globe, and for ourselves to be sustained by the help and joy of Jesus Christ. They further agreed to explore avenues for raising greater awareness on environmental issues as well as upholding Christian values of human dignity and religious rights.
In a time of burgeoning division within the world-wide Anglican Communion, this invitation to the Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury to meet with the Ecumencial Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople (Istanbul) could be an affirmation of the need – in the Anglican world – to put aside adiaphoral matters of gender and sexuality, in the interests of maintaining the ‘Unity of The Spirit in the Bond of Peace’, one of the basic admonitions found in the Anglican Eucharistic rite.
The fact that Patriarch Bartholomew has made this invitation to the ABC, despite the obvious tensions existing within the Anglican Communion on matters other than those of creed and doctrine, gives an indication of the seriousness with which the Orthodox Senior Patriarch considers the relationship between his Eastern Orthodox co-religionists and the Anglican Communion around the world.
It is well-known that Archbishop Justin is keen on the recovery of unity between the Churches of East and West (as were his predecessors Archbishops Runcie and Williams), having himself experienced the spirituality of the Roman Catholic as well as the Anglican provenance; and is open to a wider Christian ethos than that of his own Anglican roots. So this conversation with the Ecumenical Patriarch could be seen as an encouragement towards unity early on in his tenure on the Throne of Saint Augustine at Canterbury.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand