Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is the leader of the Anglican church.

In ecumenical discussions during the decennial Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops, Welby said most Anglicans recognize the pope as “the father of the Church in the West.”

Welby added that he is “not proud” of recent progress made – or rather the lack thereof – in promoting Christian unity, saying they need to solve the current “ecumenical winter.” He blamed in part “habits of separation” fostered over the last half-millennium.

The Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham Bernard Longley, attending the conference as co-chair of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, said it was important the conference ensured unity in the Anglican Communion.

“From a Catholic perspective, we deal with other Churches at the universal level. If the Communion were to divide, we would have to find new partners for dialogue, and that would significantly hamper the process.” 

Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said to the conference these divisions are an “emergency” for the global Church.

“This ecumenical emergency implies that a sincere and thus common ecumenical witness to Jesus Christ in the present world is only possible when the Christian churches overcome their divisions and can live in unity in reconciled diversity. Ecumenism and mission belong inseparably together since that is the only way in which God´s Church really is for God’s World.”

In 2019, Welby said he doesn’t care if Anglicans convert to Catholicism.

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