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Church of England primate to visit pope on June 14


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
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
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.

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