On Monday 11 January 2016, the Anglican Centre's fiftieth anniversary year was launched with a exhibtion of modern Orthodox art, specially commissioned for the Anglican Centre, called 'Reconciliation'. This is the speech given by the Revd Marcus Walker, the Associate Director, at the Reception.
“Are you married?” asked Pope John XXXIII to Canon Bernard Pawley, the Anglican representative to the Vatican Council and the person best responsible for the creation of the Anglican Centre fifty years ago this year.
“Well, that need not divide us. So was St Peter. Parents still alive?”
“Are they very old?”
“No, only in their seventies.”
“Are you a theologian?... No? Nor am I. It is theologians who have got us into this mess, and we have to get ourselves out.”
So said the Pope who called the Second Vatican Council and, in the presence of a number of theologians, I am reluctant to pass comment.
The Anglican Centre has always straddled that divide. For Archbishop Ramsey, when he opened the Centre, the primary thing he focused on was the Library, because “the Anglican student is often a debter to writers within the Roman Catholic Church. This Centre is an attempt to repay that debt by making available the resources of Anglican learning to any who will come and enjoy them.”
But for Cardinal Willebrands, the mission was broader: “This Centre will contribute by research, by studies, by conversation, to the dialogue which will be developed in the immediate future. It will contribute by personal contact, by thought, by prayer.”
The themes of Reconciliation, which have moved the Centre for fifty years, cannot be more visible than in this exhibition which opens tonight. Lefteris Olympios, an Orthodox artist from Cyprus, has created these masterpieces which reflect the fears and hopes of Christians across every denomination alive today.
How do we respond to the refugees fleeing across the Mediterranean? How do we, as people of faith, allow others to enjoy their faith? Where does God appear to those living in fear of persecution?
Pope Francis talks movingly of the Ecumenism of Blood and these works of art reflect this tragic reality of our age. As the Anglican Centre moves towards its second half-century, I thank God for the journey we have been on and pray for his help on the journey ahead.
I also have a short message which has come all the way from New Zealand, which I will share with you:
I am very much with you in spirit this evening as you launch the 50th anniversary year of the Anglican centre in Rome , which also involves the 50th anniversary of the first official visit by an Archbishop of Canterbury to the Pope, when archbishop Michael Ramsey met Pope Paul VI . This also led to the formation of the Anglican Roman Catholic international Commission as well as the Anglican Centre.
Unavoidable Family commitments here on the opposite side of the world prevent me from being in Rome this week but I will be there soon. I am delighted that the Revd Dana English has initiated the provision of this art exhibition provided by Lefteris Olympios. We are so grateful for this sharing of a great and Godgiven gift, at the Centre for these weeks.
Perhaps these art sacred art-works on display can remind us of the great creativity of God who seeks to paint a canvas of righteousness and justice across the canvas of our lives. Every human being is in fact a work of art, and every faith community is the opportunity to evoke the artistry of the gifts we have been given, to share them and to invite others to join in the creative work of God .
May our faith communities in Rome, and around the world, together be more and more open to the brush-strokes of the spirit .
Thank you for coming this evening, your support means so much.
In Christ. David.
You can find photographs of the reception on our Facebook page.
The Anglican Centre in Rome is a UK
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The Director: Vacant
Deputy Director: Revd Dr Justin Lewis-Anthony
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