The Director's Blog

One church, one faith, one Lord 

Throne of St Peter

This afternoon, history was made. Evensong, the iconic expression of Anglican worship, was celebrated in St Peter's Basilica in Rome by an Anglican Archbishop on the anniversary of the election of the Pope.

Archbishop David Moxon, the Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, led the service using Cranmer's ancient words. Archbishop Arthur Roche, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, one of the most senior Englishmen in the Vatican, preached. The choir of Merton College sang.

DM at Throne

The music was carefully chosen to reflect this historic occasion. The service was framed by motets written by William Byrd (c. 1539/40-1623). Byrd was a Roman Catholic throughout his long life, but worked for the Church of England firstly as organist of Lincoln Cathedral and, in 1572 when he returned to London, at the Chapel Royal. The service opened with Prevent us, O Lord, words from the Book of Common Prayer but ended with Justorum animae,  which comes from the Roman Catholic ‘Propers for The Feast of Saints’, published in the Gradualia 1605.

Merton Choir

The service was held in honour of St Gregory the Great on the nearest day to his old feast day. St Gregory was the Pope who sent St Augustine to England to evangelise the Anglo-Saxons and who has become an unofficial patron of the most recent ecumenical exchanges between the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches. His crozier-head was sent to Canterbury as a gesture of support during the Primates' Meeting in January 2016 and Pope Francis gave Archbishop Justin Welby a wooden crozier modelled on it during their meeting in October. Archbishop Roche preached on the important ways in which Pope St Gregory, the servant of the servants of God, can guide relations between the two communion today.


The final hymn, during which the procession made its way to the tomb of St Gregory, was the great, rousing, "Thy hand, O God, has guided'. The final verse sums up so much of the feeling in St Peter's today as Anglicans and Catholics praised God together in a way few would have expected even a year ago:

Thy mercy will not fail us,
Nor leave thy work undone;
With thy right hand to help us,
The victory shall be won;
And then, by men and angels,
Thy name shall be adored,
And this shall be their anthem,
One Church, one Faith, one Lord.

One Church. One Faith. One Lord.

Marcus Walker, 13/03/2017

The Chief Pastor of Rome 

Pope in All Saints

The Holy Spirit is always quickening and surprising us, and always present anyway in our openness to faith hope and love. This was the case on Sunday evening at All Saints' Anglican Church in Rome, where Pope Francis made history by being the first Pope ever to visit the church.

There were many ground breaking moments, and I think that three stand out.

Firstly, having offered a question and answer dialogue to the parish, the Pope engaged in an unforgettable dialogue with local parishioners on ecumenism and shared mission. In particular Pope Francis fascinated us by describing the practise he had experienced in Argentina:

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.*

This is a transfiguring story. By this he teaches us to be less anxious over our differences and unresolved doctrinal issues, while still working hard on them, but to commit ourselves more and more to sharing and partnership as we seek God and give ourselves to heal the worlds divisions, wounds and sins.
Secondly, the Pope mentioned a possible joint peace initiative by him and Archbishop Justin Welby in South Sudan, by local ecumenical invitation, to help the mediation process to end the civil war and the human tragedies of that country. If this happens, (and the Pope said it must), we will begin to minister to the world together in a totally new way.
Thirdly, this evening service with all its gifts and fruits was clearly a once in a lifetime, maybe even a once in a century, moment, and was a stunningly beautiful and powerful event to be part of. We learn from Pope Francis, as candles were lit around the shining icon he blessed and censed, that perfect love casts out fear, like light dispelling shadows. The Pope was clearly present as the chief pastor of Rome as a whole, because he was commemorating with the parish their 200th anniversary. This is the first ever visit of a Pope to any local Anglican parish - the papal visits to Westminster Abbey and Canterbury Cathedral were national events with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Pope Francis was there last night as the Bishop of Rome (alongside the Anglican Bishop of Europe, Robert Innes and his suffragan David Hamid who has responsibility for Italy).
Once again experienced the power of the truth we learn from the living word of God: “ God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love and of power and of self- control”. 2 Timothy 1 :7. These words may well have been written, just under two thousand years ago, underneath the site of the Anglican Centre in Rome, where Paul is thought to have been kept under house arrest, and where the kernel of the Timothy letters were conceived. What better foundation could we build on in this mission which we are so privileged to share in at this kairos time.
Fr Jonathan Boardman is to be congratulated along with the All Saints' community for their great vision and creative hospitality.

*The text in Italian reads as follows:

Nel nord dell’Argentina ci sono le missioni anglicane con gli aborigeni e le missioni cattoliche con gli aborigeni, e il Vescovo anglicano e il Vescovo cattolico di là lavorano insieme, e insegnano. E quando la gente non può andare la domenica alla celebrazione cattolica va a quella anglicana, e gli anglicani vanno alla cattolica, perché non vogliono passare la domenica senza una celebrazione; e lavorano insieme. E qui la Congregazione per la Dottrina della Fede lo sa. E fanno la carità insieme. E i due i Vescovi sono amici e le due comunità sono amiche.

... Loro non negoziano la fede e l’identità. Quell’aborigeno ti dice nel nord Argentina: “Io sono anglicano”. Ma non c’è il vescovo, non c’è il pastore, non c’è il reverendo… “Io voglio lodare Dio la domenica e vado alla cattedrale cattolica”, e viceversa.

The full text of Pope Francis' homily and answers can be found by clicking here.

David Moxon, 27/02/2017

Speech in the presence of HRH the Prince of Wales 


Your Royal Highness, It is an honour to be in your presence again after so many years. Although this has happened several times  – the first may have escaped your attention: It was 47 years ago, in the October of 1970, when you came to Fiji to declare that country independent. I was there with the Volunteer Service Abroad and, at the tender age of 18, had been asked to stand in for you, to pretend to be you, during the many complex military and civic rehearsals of the previous days… A  newspaper recorded my role with the headlines “Prince for a day” mother said I never got over it…
However this evening I am being myself. It is a great privilege to have your support for this cause which brings us together now.
When Pope Paul VI gave his episcopal ring to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, and placed it on his finger in 1966, the Pope said to the Archbishop:
You have rebuilt a bridge which, for centuries, has lain fallen between the Church of Rome and the Church of Canterbury. You cross over with spontaneous initiative and confidence.
The rebuilding of a fallen bridge, the spontaneity and initiatives of the crossing, the courage and piety of this pilgrimage of hope that Pope Paul VI spoke of 50 years ago are very much the best way to describe our work at the Anglican Centre in Rome now, as we pursue the goal of unity which is Christ’s will for the Church.  
Many bridges were built last year in October when Archbishop Justin came to Rome to celebrate fifty years of that first meeting in Rome and of the opening of the Centre. He brought with him his own pectoral cross – a Cross of Nails – which he put into the hands of Pope Francis… who stunned the congregation by taking it, kissing it, and putting it round his own neck. Archbishop Justin took home a gift of even greater significance: a crozier; the staff of a bishop; modelled on the crozier of St Gregory the Great and given in San Gregorio al Celio, the church where Pope Gregory sent St Augustine to Canterbury in 595. Sometimes, only symbols can sum up just how far we have come.
The next day saw 18 pairs of Anglican and Catholic bishops, gathered from all over the world, receive a Lampedusa Cross, each made from the wood of a boat which has foundered on the journey across the Mediterranean Sea. The next week we, from the Centre, went to the Middle East and spent two weeks meeting with Christians from the indigenous churches in Jerusalem and some of the Christians who have fled their homes in Iraq and taken refuge in Jordan.  Out of this some of those who were with us have started conversations about how to work with our Evangelical and Catholic friends in Italy to help those who are fleeing the horrors of the Middle East be given shelter in Italy safely.
So what does this all mean?
Catholics and Anglicans – and Orthodox and other Christians – have found themselves united… in the face of persecution around the world; what Pope Francis has called the Ecumenism of Blood.
Now we are finding that we can choose to be united in facing other challenges: on the frontiers of refugee ministry, of anti-slavery networks, of climate change challenges and of poverty and development causes.
For fifty years, the Anglican Centre has been building the bridges which allow this co-operation to happen: bridges of compassion and hope, which reveal a shared Christian ministry. This sharing is already transforming the theological dialogue between us, formally on ARCIC, and informally on the revived Malines Conversations, for example, with which my predecessor David Richardson and I have been heavily involved. This is bringing a deeper degree of communion between the world’s two largest Christian communities, a communion which in the end is to be shared with all the world. If we are capable of intensifying our witness to this sacred and essential unity in diversity, we shall have something transformative to share in a divided world.

David Moxon, 23/02/2017