The Pope and Archbishop of Canterbury have pledged to reunify their churches but remain split on the role of women and attitudes to sexuality.

In a joint declaration in Rome yesterday (October 5), Justin Welby and Pope Francis said they remained “undeterred” in bringing the two institutions back together after almost 500 years of separation.

Speaking of the common ground, reached between the two churches over the last few decades, they admitted there was still “serious obstacles” to reunification – with issues over sexuality and women being some of the largest.

“Much progress has been made concerning many areas that have kept us apart,” the pair said.

“Yet new circumstances have presented new disagreements among us, particularly regarding the ordination of women and more recent questions regarding human sexuality.”

The Catholic church said it remained fundamentally opposed to the possibility of blessing same-sex marriages, ordaining gay bishops and allowing female clergy, moves the Church of England is currently taking.

Despite the differences, after giving prayers together the two said they would seek new ways to work out their theological differences, adding they believed God would “open new doors”.

For years the two churches have viewed each other as heretical, but now have spoken of their “common faith” and described each other’s denominations as “brothers and sisters”.

The Telegraph reported the meeting between the two leaders was to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic visit that saw both churches agree to form closer ties.