Pope Francis is drawing Churches closer together out of 'genuine love' - senior Anglican

Pope Francis leads the service at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside The Walls in Rome January 25, 2016.Reuters

Christian Churches are growing closer together "in every way" because of Pope Francis, according to the senior Anglican leader in Rome.

Interviewed by the Zenit news service, Archbishop David Moxon, who is the Archbishop of Canterbury's Representative to the Holy See and director of Rome's Anglican Centre, spoke of the pope's "natural extroversion and genuine love for other churches and ecclesial communities".

"There always seems to be room deep in his heart for others in this way, and this is noticed," he said.

He said that while there were "fundamental gaps" between Roman Catholics and Anglicans, there were areas where the Church could draw closer together, for instance on social questions like human trafficking, modern slavery and climate change.

On theological issues, Moxon said the Churches had "around 80 per cent of core doctrine in common".

Asked about wider ecumenical relationships, Moxon again paid tribute to the Pope Francis, saying: "The pope is making this link so much deeper and more accessible by his spirituality, his personality and his overall generosity of approach, using a clear Gospel base to motivate and understand every opportunity for closer relations, in word and deed."

At the close of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity earlier this week, Archbishop Moxon and the Orthodox Archbishop Gennadios were invited to share in the giving of the Pontifical Blessing.

In a reflection for Zenit, Moxon wrote of the service at the Papal Basilica of St Paul's outside the Walls, with its 3,000-strong congregation.

"We were called to the side of the Papal Throne and he said 'Let's share this together.' He received his papal pastoral staff, began the prayer and raised his hand. Archbishop Gennadios (the representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch) and I raised our hands also. It was incredibly moving to be part of what (I think) was an unprecedented invitation, which said far more even than the words which were actually recited."

He said it would be "wrong to read too much into what happened, but in the minutes that followed the conclusion of the service, it was the talk of the evening".

He added: "To me it seems a very poignant, unforgettable, and evocative sign of our essential unity in baptism and of our desire to share the blessings of God whenever there is opportunity; to bless and be blessed because we belong to the Church of the Triune God, which is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic."

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