Primus meets Pope Francis at primates’ gathering

The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church has met Pope Francis as part of the 2024 Anglican Primates Meeting in Rome.

Bishop Mark Strange was introduced to the Pope during an hour-long meeting with the primates, during which the Pope shared words of encouragement and affirmation as he responded to questions from those gathered.

“Our meeting with Pope Francis was a time of thoughtfully reflection,” said the Primus following the meeting in the Papal chambers of the Vatican City. “The Pope considered the questions we asked and replied with warmth and at times laughter. He clearly enjoyed the audience and greeted each of us in turn, taking time to engage.

“Once again I left the Vatican with the knowledge that I had been in the company of a loving servant of God.”

In his address to the primates, Pope Francis spoke about themes of synodality, church unity and the prioritisation of relationships, Christian love and service.

The Pope said: “Only a love that becomes gratuitous service, only the love that Jesus taught and embodies, will bring separated Christians closer to one another. Only that love, which does not appeal to the past in order to remain aloof or to point a finger, only that love which in God’s name puts our brothers and sisters before the ironclad defence of our own religious structures, only that love will unite us.”

This was a significant moment in a week in which the Anglican Primates’ Meeting has been held in Rome. They gathered for pilgrimage, prayer and discussion about joint mission and witness, along with conversation about synodality, structures and decision making in the Anglican Communion.

Primates of the Anglican Communion represent diverse cultural settings and Christian traditions, but through the Primates’ Meeting they come together to discuss shared priorities and concerns and discern ways to cultivate shared wisdom and consensus.

The meeting with the Pope was a time of deep encouragement to the primates. Throughout his reign, Pope Francis has consistently called Christians to prioritise relationships and church unity.

The audience with Pope Francis took place on the closing day of the Primates’ Meeting, which has seen the primates go on pilgrimage to holy sites in Rome including the Abbey of Tre Fontane, The Basilica of St Paul’s Outside the Walls and the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere.

The Primates’ Meeting gathers Anglican Archbishops, Presiding Bishops and Moderators from member churches of the Anglican Communion, and it is one of the ‘Instruments’ of the Anglican Communion, that works for unity amongst Anglican churches globally. The meeting has been held in Rome due to its historical and spiritual significance for the whole Christian world. It was first scheduled to take place in 2020, but it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

[Picture credit: @Vatican Media]