Sunday, February 26, 2017

Historical visit of the Pope to an Anglican church in the Eternal City.

Today my parish church, All Saints' Anglican Church in Rome, had the pleasure to welcome Pope Francis himself. Needless to say it was a remarkable occasion, the first of its kind, before today Popes had only visited Canterbury Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. The rather long service of Evensong began with the dedication of our new icon of Saint Saviour by artist Ian Knowles from the Bethlehem Icon School in Israel. Then we proceeded to renew our baptismal vows and subsequently the altar party (led by me) reached the sanctuary while His Holiness slowly sprinkled our worshippers with holy water under the thundering notes of Stanford's setting of Psalm 150 to Anglican Chant. The Pope then preached about charity and mercy, reminding us of our brotherly relationship and the path of faith that we keep following together. Sharing prayer with the Holy Father, believe me, is a humbling experience. Then it was the time of the peace, which we all gladly shared with His Holiness, from the highest ranking members of the Church of England, to the sick, elderly and young of our church community, sharing the peace with Pope Francis really didn't require any additional words, the physical contact was enough to give us a sense of peace and hope. As customary it was then the time for questions, two answers from the Pope got stuck in my head: that we have to understand that when our Churches split times and circumstances were different, but we still share a love for Jesus Christ and his saints and much of our traditional way of practicing Christianity is unchanged, he then moved to an especially moving answer, he explained how we can look to the new churches of the global south, how we can worship together where canon law or theology can't get, as in the case of a diocese in his familiar Argentina where local Anglicans and Catholics worship at the same churches and services depending on the availability of the clergy. On this occasion our church was also twinned with its namesake Roman Catholic partner, with whom we recently started a new service for helping the homeless and the hungry of this large city. Gifts were then exchanged as we sang the beautiful strains of the hymn "For all the saints". Today was an especially touching and humbling experience, we will surely treasure it in our hearts for the years to come. This is truly God's own handiwork. That they may all be one.

3 comments:

  1. Hi,

    I watched some of the service online and saw a transcript of the Pope's remarks. Is there a transcript of the questions and answers? I heard him mention Archbishop Venables from Argentina, but didn't understand much of what he was saying as my Italian is limited.

    Thanks,

    Ann

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    Replies
    1. Dear Ann,

      Thanks for contacting us, here is a little excerpt from his last answer, in my opinion, the most interesting one:

      "In the Northern part of Argentina, there are Anglican missions with the indigenous peoples and Catholic missions with the indigenous people, and the Anglican bishop and the Catholic Bishop from there work and teach together. And when people are not able to go to catholic celebrations on Sunday, they go to the anglican one, and the Anglicans go to the catholic ones, because they don’t want to spend Sunday without a celebration; and they work together. And here the congregation for the doctrine of the faith knows this. And they do charity together. And the two bishops are friends and the two communities are friends.

      ... They don’t negotiate the faith and their identity, that indigenous person from Northern Argentina says to you “I am Anglican”. But [when]there is no Bishop, there is no Pastor, there is no Reverend... “I wish to praise God on Sunday and go to the Catholic Cathedral”, and vice versa."

      You can read more here: http://anglicancentre.churchinsight.com/Articles/492112/Anglican_Centre_in/News/Archive_and_Sermons/Archive_The_Chief.aspx

      With thanks,

      The Roman Anglican

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  2. Thank you for the link! It was exactly what I was looking for.

    Grace and peace,
    Ann

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