Francis bows his head to receive Justin's blessing
It is not remotely surprising that the Archbishop of Canterbury should desire to bless the Pope of Rome, but the humble attitude of His Holiness in accepting it has caused something of a stir among Roman Catholic traditionalists:
Is Pope Francis humbly acknowledging the episcopal ministry of Archbishop Justin and affirming the validity of Anglican Holy Orders? Is he recognising that we are neither heretics (as it still says in Westminster Cathedral) nor 'separated brethren', but part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church?
It appears so. For he has previously opened his heart to Protestant Evangelicals, and as Cardinal Bergoglio he knelt at a Protestant prayer meeting to receive the blessings of several Protestant pastors:
And you haven't heard him talk much about the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham or the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution 'Anglicanorum coetibus' of Pope Benedict XVI, have you?
For many Roman Catholic traditionalists, this is one hell of an ecumenical mess, sending out confusing messages about the Faith, the (Roman) Catholic Church and the uniqueness of ministry of the Vicar of Christ. They may think this a false expression of showman humility — a theatrical performance; a patronising gesture of genuine compassion but counterfeit ecclesiology. But His Grace detects a spiritual, doctrinal and moral shift in ecumenical relations. Pope Francis is more Anglican than many believe, or would find it possible to admit.