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Pope Francis Praises Archbishop of Canterbury Over Gay Marriage Stance

( [email protected] ) Jun 14, 2013 10:52 AM EDT
Pope Francis met the Archbishop of Canterbury for the first time since both took office in March. The Pope praised Justin Welby for his stance against gay marriage and calling for united action to defend the poor.
The Archbshiop of Canterbury Justin Welby, left, is welcomed to the Vatican by Pope Francis.

Pope Francis met the Archbishop of Canterbury for the first time since both took office in March.

The leader of the Roman Catholic Church said the two men shared a common desire for social justice, peace and the promotion of Christian values in areas such as marriage.

The Pope urged the Archbishop to continue proclaiming "the sacredness of human life or the importance of the institution of the family built on marriage, a value that you yourself have had occasion to recall recently".

The Most Rev Justin Welby, who was enthroned as Archbishop of Canterbury in March just weeks after the Pope was elected pope, earlier this month tore into the British government's gay marriage bill.

Welby said he "felt at home" at the Vatican, and hoped the proximity of the two leaders' inaugurations would "serve the reconciliation of the world and the Church," while noting the difficulties ahead.

The Pope said the closeness of their inaugurations meant that they always had a "particular reason to support one another in prayer".

In his Vatican address, the Pope said, "The history of relations between the Church of England and the Catholic Church is long and complex, and not without pain. Recent decades, however, have been marked by a journey of rapprochement and fraternity, and for this we give heartfelt thanks to God."

"Both have a particular interest in the economy and its effect on men and women around the world, on our responsibility to reach out to the marginalized and the poor and an interest that churches should be involved to make society a more Christ-like place," Vatican Monsignor Mark Langham said, according to The Guardian.