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Division of churches a scandal, says Pope

By Martha Linden

The centuries-old divide between the Church of England and the Catholic Church is a "scandal", Pope Francis said as he met the Archbishop of Canterbury in Rome.

The leader of 1.2bn Catholics said a goal of full unity between the two churches "may seem distant" but it remained an aim that should direct "every step".

He said progress towards full unity would not be the result of human actions alone, but would be a "free gift of God".

"Beneath his merciful gaze, we cannot claim that our division is anything less than a scandal and an obstacle to our proclaiming the gospel of salvation to the world," the Pope told Justin Welby.

"Our vision is often blurred by the cumulative burden of our divisions and our will is not always free of that human ambition which can accompany even our desire to preach the gospel as the Lord commanded."

It was the second time the two had met at the Vatican since they were installed as church leaders.

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