August 15, 2022

Pope Francis and the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, at the Vatican on Oct. 5, 2021. / Vatican Media

Canterbury, England, Aug 5, 2022 / 09:26 am (CNA).

In ecumenical discussions at the Lambeth Conference in Canterbury, England, Justin Welby, archbishop of Canterbury, has said that most Anglicans recognize the pope as “the father of the Church in the West.”

Welby said that he is “not proud” of the level of progress made in promoting Christian unity in recent years. He attributed this stasis in part to what he termed “habits of separation” that have been fostered over the last 500 years.

Nonetheless, he believes that the majority of the Church of England’s members acknowledge the pope to be “the father of the Church in the West.”

Addressing the conference, Cardinal Kurt Koch, prefect for the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, stressed the urgency of ecumenical dialogue. Koch called the present state of division an “emergency” in the Church.

Speaking to the Tablet, Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham Bernard Longley noted the ability of the conference to cement the unity of the Anglican Communion.

Longley pointed out that the road to wider Christian unity and dialogue between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church would be “hampered” if the former were to divide.

The 2022 Lambeth Conference runs from July 26 until Aug. 8. Over 600 bishops representing Christian communities from the Anglican Communion have gathered in Canterbury for a program of lectures and discussions on a range of topics, from peace and reconciliation to environment and sustainability.

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Welby’s comments on ecumenism follow his call for a vote on banning same-sex marriage earlier in the conference. However, Welby said at a press conference in March that debates about human sexuality should not dominate this year’s Lambeth Conference.

The theme of the event is “God’s Church for God’s World: Walking, Listening, and Witnessing Together.”

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