Fostering fraternal relations between the Catholic Church, other Christian denominations and other Faiths is an important priority of the pontificate of Pope Francis. It was also adopted as one of the four key ‘pillars’ or objectives of the Galileo Foundation at its launch in 2017.
The ongoing cordial relations with the Anglican Communion, and the close personal relationship between Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby were particularly in evidence on October 5 th 2016 when the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury met in Rome at San Gregorio al Celio to mark the 50th anniversary of ecumenical relations, initiated when his predecessor Pope Saint Paul VI met Archbishop Michael Ramsey in 1966.
The meeting, which was part of the IARCCUM initiative, also brought together 19 Anglican bishops and 19 Catholic bishops who are part of a pairing initiative designed to foster even closer co-operation and collaboration between Catholics and Anglicans.
In the words of the Pope and the Archbishop: “Today we rejoice to commission them and send them forth in pairs as the Lord sent out the seventy-two disciples. Let their ecumenical mission to those on the margins of society be a witness to all of us, and let the message go out from this holy place, as the Good News was sent out so many centuries ago, that Catholics and Anglicans will work together to give voice to our common faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, to bring relief to the suffering, to bring peace where there is conflict, to bring dignity where it is denied and trampled upon.”
At the request of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the Galileo Foundation commissioned the crozier carved from English oak which Pope Francis presented to Archbishop Welby to mark the occasion. The crozier was a copy of the crozier which Pope Gregory the Great gave to St Augustine in 597 AD in the same church in Rome before sending him to evangelize the Anglo-Saxons.
Fraternity between all Religions
In February 2019, the Holy Father visited the United Arab Emirates for an important Interreligious meeting at the invitation of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, ruler of the UAE.
At the Founder’s Memorial, Pope Francis spoke about the ‘ark of fraternity’ in which the world’s faiths could sail the ‘stormy seas of the world’ together.
The Pope was among the signatories of a document on Human Fraternity, of which he said: “It is a document that invites all persons who have faith in God and faith in human fraternity to unite and work together so that it may serve as a guide for future generations to advance a culture of mutual respect in the awareness of the great divine grace that makes all human beings brothers and sisters.”
In his address, Pope Francis remarked: “We will either build the future together or there will not be a future. Religions, in particular, cannot renounce the urgent task of building bridges between peoples and cultures. The time has come when religions should more actively exert themselves, with courage and audacity, and without pretence, to help the human family deepen the capacity for reconciliation, the vision of hope and the concrete paths of peace.”
The Pope continued: “Religions should be the voice of the least, who are not statistics but brothers and sisters, and should stand on the side of the poor. They should keep watch as sentinels of fraternity in the night of conflict. They should be vigilant warnings to humanity not to close our eyes in the face of injustice and never to resign ourselves to the many tragedies in the world.”
“A fraternal living together, founded on education and justice; a human development built upon a welcoming inclusion and on the rights of all: these are the seeds of peace which the world’s religions are called to help flourish.”