This week, in the holy city of Jerusalem, the Anglican Centre in Rome is partnering with St George’s College, Jerusalem for the first time, to offer a course on division and hope in the Holy City. The course ranges from the earliest parting of the ways amongst Jewish and Gentile Christians, through the Chalcedonian controversies, the schisms between East and West, and the Reformation. We are looking to the trajectories of hope today and are imagining where they might lead us now.
We are particularly encouraged this week by the fact that just twelve days ago both Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin exchanged gifts in the ancient monastery church of San Gregorio al Celio in Rome. The Archbishop of Canterbury gave the Pope his own pectoral cross, a Coventry Cross, in the style of the nails found within the ruins of the cathedral after it was bombed in World War II, a sign of the reconciling grace of God.
Pope Francis’ gift was even more symbolic: a crozier, fashioned after the style of the crozier attributed to Pope St Gregory the Great who sent the first Archbishop of Canterbury to England at the end of the sixth century. It is remarkable that fifteen hundred years later a pope should give an Archbishop of Canterbury this unmistakable sign of his archiepiscopal vocation. This gift consummated the giving of an episcopal ring in 1966 by Pope Paul VI to Archbishop Michael Ramsey.
The crozier head features a ram with a cross, facing down a rampant serpent dragon; a sign of the victory of Easter over the power of sin and death. This is an outward and visible sign of the resurrection faith we share, as Anglicans and Roman Catholics, as well as a sign of the mission we share.
The events of the week as a whole were full of unforgettable discussions, liturgies, and signs, which herald a new dawn of co-operations and confidence between our two communions. We are being called to witness to the reality that what unites us is greater than what divides us and that we can disagree well on some matters while acting in solidarity on the frontiers of the Kingdom of God.
The Anglican Centre in Rome is a UK
Charity with a world-wide mission.
Interim Director: The Very Revd Dr John Shepherd
Deputy Director: Revd Dr Justin Lewis-Anthony
The Anglican Centre in Rome,
Palazzo Doria Pamphilj,
Piazza del Collegio Romano 2,
00186 Roma, Italy.
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