The President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Kurt Koch has sent a letter offering his congratulations and warmest wishes to Justin Welby, the Anglican Bishop of Durham, who on Friday was announced as the new Archbishop of Canterbury.
In his letter, Cardinal Koch called relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion as “hugely important,” and expressed his certainty that “under [Welby’s] leadership those excellent relations will continue to bear fruit.”
The full text of the letter is below:
To the Right Reverend Justin Welby
Bishop of Durham
Allow me to join with all those who are praying for you and wishing you every joy and happiness in the new ministry you are about to assume as Archbishop of Canterbury and Spiritual Leader of the Anglican Communion. On behalf of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and in the name of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity I offer you congratulations and warmest best wishes.
Relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion are a hugely important part of the ecumenical call for all Christians to seek greater fidelity to the Lord’s will, so clearly expressed in his prayer to the Father at the Last Supper “that all may be one” (Jn 17:21). For almost fifty years, as you are well aware, there has been a formal theological dialogue which continues to seek a deeper understanding of the great heritage shared by Anglicans and Catholics, as well as the points of divergence which still impede fully restored ecclesial communion. During that same time, relations between succeeding Popes and Archbishops of Canterbury have been marked by numerous meetings which have expressed intense spiritual and human friendship, and a shared concern for our Gospel witness and service to the human family.
I am certain that under your leadership those excellent relations will continue to bear fruit, and I look forward to meeting you personally, and to future opportunities to share our common commitment to the cause of Christian Unity, “so that the world may believe” (Jn 17:21).
Please accept the assurance of my earnest prayers for you and your family as you prepare for a new phase in your dedicated service of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Cardinal Kurt Koch