Pope, archbishop of Canterbury battle trafficking
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis and the archbishop of Canterbury denounced human trafficking as a crime against human dignity Monday and pledged to combat it jointly — finding common ground on a social issue amid deep theological divisions over the Anglicans’ ordination of women bishops.
Francis and Archbishop Justin Welby, spiritual leader of the 80 million-strong Anglican Communion, met in private and then prayed together in a Vatican chapel, their second such meeting since both were elected within days of one another last year.
Francis has made the fight against modern-day slavery a priority of his pontificate: The Vatican has hosted two conferences, Francis has met with women who were trafficked and the Vatican has teamed up with the Anglican church and Al-Azhar University in Cairo, the world’s foremost seat of Sunni learning, to launch a global initiative to fight human slavery.
“Let us persevere in our commitment to combat new forms of enslavement, in the hope that we can help provide relief to victims and oppose this deplorable trade,” Francis told Welby.
Welby said cooperation was key. “It is a crime that we all need to overcome as a matter of urgency, as a matter of human dignity, freedom and wholeness of life,” he said.
Welby, however, acknowledged that while Catholic and Anglicans are working together in this area, “there are matters of deep significance that separate us.”
The Catholic Church doesn’t permit women to be ordained priests, much less bishops, on the grounds that Christ’s apostles were all male. Anglican churches in Australia, New Zealand and the United States already have women serving as bishops. The Church of England’s dioceses have all voted to do the same and the church’s Governing Synod is expected to take a final vote next month.