At the invitation of Archbishop David Moxon, I have spent ten days in Rome and participated in his everyday activities as an orientation programme. First I attended and participated in a course on the work of ARCIC III – the third round of conversations of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission – which produced a book, Toward a Church Fully Reconciled, which we were studying. I was very impressed by the content of that book and the participation of those who took part in that course. However, I realised that most of the time we get these books and do not read and digest the content of those reports for the benefit of our two Communions.
The moment which really captured my mind was the audience with the Pope on Wednesday morning, where the group that was on that course attended that weekly audience with the Pope, where people from all over the world come and have a public audience with the Holy Father. It was not planned, but we were called to be among the group of people whom he greeted. He told us that he knew that I had been appointed to this position and was looking forward to welcoming me, officially, in October.
We also met for working sessions the members of the Secretariate of State and the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity and visited different parts of Rome, especially those historical sites. The one that captured my attention was the house which is under excavation where St Paul may have been taken as a prisoner in Rome. If what the archaeologists are trying to prove becomes true, this will be another way of confirming that the stories in the Scriptures are true stories.
These few days that I spent in Rome confirmed the great importance of our presence in that city. A place of presence and hospitality not only for Anglicans, but for all those who live outside Rome, that they could come and learn about the life of the church – locally, but universally as well.
I take it to be significant that my nomination comes in the year 2017, when we commemorate five hundred years of Reformation. This commemoration should be a time of re-examining the decisions taken by church leaders and churches and what we should be focused on is what we share and not what divides us. I am very much looking forward to starting in October and ask for your prayers for the success of this ministry.
You can hear Archbishop Bernard's first interview with Vatican Radio here.
Abp Bernard is the former primate of Burundi. He succeeds Abp David Moxon as Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome in the autumn. This blog appeared first on the centre’s website