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Archbishop of Canterbury celebrates Anglican liturgy in a Catholic basilica in Rome

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby meets with Pope Francis on Jan. 25, 2024, at the Vatican. / Credit: Vatican Media

ACI Prensa Staff, Jan 26, 2024 / 15:45 pm (CNA).

Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby celebrated an Anglican liturgy this morning in the Catholic Basilica of St. Bartholomew, located on Tiber Island in Rome’s Tiber River. 

At the beginning of the ceremony, the current archbishop of Canterbury thanked Pope Francis for allowing him to hold the service in this Catholic church.

The ceremony was included on the official calendar of activities held in Rome during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity that was published on the website of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity.

In a statement to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, Father Angelo Romano, rector of St. Bartholomew Basilica in Rome, explained that the prefect for the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Kurt Koch, requested for the Anglican liturgy to be held there.

“We simply welcomed this liturgy by the archbishop of Canterbury,” he said, pointing out that no Catholic faithful participated in the celebration and that “it’s not blasphemy” but rather a gesture of “fraternity with this church so close to ours.”

Welby is in Rome as part of the ecumenical week and also to participate in the summit titled “Growing Together” organized by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission for Unity and Mission.

Yesterday, Jan. 25, in Rome, the leader of the Anglican Church celebrated an ecumenical second vespers with Pope Francis for the solemnity of the Conversion of St. Paul at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.

Throughout the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, held Jan. 18–25, different ecumenical events have taken place in Rome, including a concert by an Anglican choir in St. Peter’s Basilica on Jan. 23, also promoted by the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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