These last seven days have seen the official visit to Rome of the Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, the Most Revd Philip Freier, Archbishop of Melbourne. He had conversations with religious attached to The Pontifical Council for Migrants, with Archbishop Paul Gallagher of the Secretariat of State, with Cardinal George Pell, Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, the Australian Ambassador to the Holy See HE John McCarthy, the Australian Ambassador to Italy HE Mike Rann, the Community of St Egidio care of Monica Attias and Father Marco, Father Anthony Currer of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Father James Puglisi of the Friars of the Atonement at Centro pro unione, Father Professor Keith Pecklers of the Caravita Oratory and Professor of Liturgy at the Gregorian University, time at Vespers and lunch with Abbot Edmund and the monks of the papal Basilica of St Paul-Outside-the-Walls, and an interview with Philippa Hitchen of Vatican Radio.
The highlight of the visit was a personal greeting from His Holiness Pope Francis at the large Wednesday audience where the Archbishop was greeted as prima filia with a special seat near the papal dias.
I mention this wide range of contacts simply to point out how seriously both our communions take each other, in detail and in person. Although we have agreed statements at a high level on some subjects this can be so much theory unless it is earthed in real people dealing with real issues on a regular basis. In fact with visits like this and with many other contacts around the world we find we are actually very keen to understand each other’s missional imperatives, where we can exchange useful information and support each other, and where we need to increase our degree of communion and understanding.
Archbishop Philip is widely regarded for his community-facing ministry, his solidarity with aboriginal indigenous rights, with immigrants, and for his capacity to interface in the public arena on the issues of the day. This is an intelligent, well-informed and engaging approach. For these and other reasons Catholics in Rome found him a helpful and invigorating guest. I was proud to be associated with a visit of this calibre.
We have also been blessed with less formal visits from the Primate of Hong Kong, the Most Revd Paul Kwong and the Archbishop of the New Zealand dioceses the Most Revd Philip Richardson. The Primate of South Africa the Most Revd Thabo Makgoba is due soon.
Hear Archbishop Feier's interview on Vatican Radio
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