I have the privilege of sharing some thoughts with you for the last time, as Director to the readers of the ACR blog on our website. I have now completed my term as ACR director and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the Holy See. Looking back I can honestly say that it has all been an immense privilege. We are so blessed to be witnessing a friendship between Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin at this time, as Christian brothers and global leaders who are seeking the common good together. I leave Rome with a full and thankful heart, that notwithstanding the difficulties and frailties of human beings we are being guided , by an invisible hand that has a nail hole in the centre of it, but also shines with a light that the darkness cannot overcome.
I had an emotional farewell with the Holy Father on Friday which I will always remember as long as I live. We talked about the progress being made by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission stage three, following the recent meeting in Erfurt, Germany, where Martin Luther was an Augustinian monk and teacher; ARCIC III has just produced a draft text on shared ecclesiology principles. We talked of the hopes that there are in Christ between us, for a deeper re-integrated diversity as we look to a church fully reconciled in God’s good time. I said that I had received so much from my time in Rome from his example and courage, his vision and creativity. The church is on the move because of prophetic, servant, leadership like his and Archbishop Justin’s. Then Pope Francis met my family and the staff and friends of the Anglican Centre and led us all in the Lord's Prayer.
I gave Pope Francis a carved a Maori wooden cross which had signs of his Franciscan vocation, gathering threads that interweave together in our ecumenical efforts, and the two different but complementary strengths of our respective communions are needed in God’s Kingdom today.
Pope Francis also received the copy of our new ACR book by Mary Reath “An Open Door” which tells our story so well in recent years around presence, hospitality, education, best practice, collaboration and diplomacy. As the audience finished, some of us sang, in Maori, a song about Mary as the mother of the Christian world. I know that my successor Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi will share an equally good link with the successor of Peter.
I have learned that it is only through incarnating love in prayer, Christian friendship and the fruits it brings, that there is the room to transform, to heal and to bring in a new creation. The ACR is a crucial base for creative life-giving friendships in Rome and beyond; an urgent presence as the world gets smaller and our need to act together grows stronger. This has been my experience over the years for which, as I leave, I thank God with all my heart. I am so deeply grateful to all of you who have been such supportive friends and who have been such great supporters of this mission here. I have been blessed with an exceptional staff team and so name and hold up the work of Fr Marcus Walker, Louise Hettiche , Luca De Gasperis, Juliette Anderson, Anita Mancia and the ACR board chaired by Bishop Stephen Platten, with the Revd Barry Nichols as company secretary and The Revd Martin Macdonald as treasurer, together with great Governors, officers, friends and members from all over the world. In and through all of this Archbishop Justin and his team have been so supportive and invigorating; an extraordinary gift. I have been blessed by so many colleagues, Anglican and Roman Catholic.
I thank God for you all.
The Anglican Centre in Rome is a UK
Charity with a world-wide mission.
The Director: Vacant
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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