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UPDATED - Archbishop of Canterbury names Abp David Moxon representative to the Holy See

Posted on: December 4, 2012 9:13 PM
Archbishop David Moxon
Photo Credit: Anglican Taonga

From Anglican Taonga

Archbishop David Moxon is heading to Rome as the Anglican Communion’s chief representative to the Roman Catholic Church.

This means he will step down in April as the Archbishop of the New Zealand dioceses, and thus as one of the three leaders of the Anglican Church in these islands. He will also resign as Bishop of Waikato.

Archbishop David’s new role in Rome will be twofold: as the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the Holy See, and also as the Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome. He expects to take up those responsibilities in May next year.

The representative role involves relating to the Vatican and the Pope on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Communion; while the Anglican Centre is an Anglican “embassy” in Rome which promotes Christian unity though hospitality, prayer and education – and which brokers new joint endeavours by the Catholic and Anglican churches.

Archbishop David was asked to consider the role earlier this year. After months of prayer and consideration he applied, and he was offered the post by Dr Rowan Williams – who says he is “personally delighted” that Archbishop David accepted.

“There can be few people in the Communion so well qualified for this work,” says Archbishop Williams. “Archbishop David has done distinguished service to the Anglican – Roman Catholic dialogue both locally and globally, and brings to this post both a wealth of experience and a range of profound friendships across the confessional frontiers.”

Archbishop David says he felt compelled to heed the call that came his way.

“Our two churches are on the verge of new opportunities for joint mission,” he says, “especially in the aid and development area. I’m also convinced there are new opportunities to learn from each other, and to support each other in the sacred cause for which Jesus gave his life and blood.”

Archbishop David says this church of Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia has shown him the true potential for reaching out across cultures and divides – and encouraged him to “go global” with what he’s learned.

“I will be taking with me everything I have been given by the church in these islands.”

Tikanga praise

Archbishop David’s appointment has been hailed by the leader of the Maori arm of this church, Archbishop Brown Turei – who suggests that Archbishop David’s track record of forging relationships with people from other backgrounds will serve him well.

“He was so easy to work with, so unusually well equipped to do what he did here with the three-tikanga church, that I’m sure he’s the one to develop relationships with the Catholic church. I will miss him.”

The leader of Tikanga Pasefika, Archbishop Winston Halapua, the Bishop of the Diocese of Polynesia, adds that it’s no surprise that Archbishop David has been ‘handpicked’ by the wider church to go to Rome.

“I knew that it wouldn’t be long before something like this happened. He has the skills that the Anglican Communion needs and I know he will do brilliantly.

“His going is a loss to us. But we rejoice in our sadness, because he has given us so much.”

Meanwhile, Bishop Philip Richardson, with whom Archbishop David has led the Diocese of Waikato and Taranaki for 13 years, says his brother bishop has left “an indelible mark” on the diocese.

“His passion for the gospel, his love for people and his style of leadership made him deeply loved by the people of this diocese,” Bishop Philip says.

Episcopal partnership with Archbishop David “has given me the most fruitful and enjoyable years in ministry that I’ve had – and I will really miss that.

“But I believe so strongly that this appointment is the call on his life. And I think this is international recognition of the calibre of his leadership.”

The Catholic Bishop of Hamilton, the Most Rev Dennis Browne, in whose cathedral, in 1993, Archbishop David was ordained as the sixth Bishop of Waikato, has also extended his warmest wishes:

“The big promotion! I’m actually a little bit sad because we’ve worked really closely together for nearly 20 years now and he’s become a great friend of mine.

“I think it’s sad for the Anglican Church here in New Zealand, too, because to my way of thinking they’re losing a wonderful, natural pastor.

“He’s got that broad thinking, that very sharp intellect that is great, not just for the Anglican community but for the whole of New Zealand, really.

“Ecumenically, we’re going to miss him here in Hamilton. He’s been so approachable, so easy to get on with.

“He’s got that sensitivity that will serve him well in this new position. The fact that he’s already been really involved internationally… he will be a great asset in Rome, and I hope he’ll feel at home in the special atmosphere that is the Vatican.”

Archbishop David says he feels “a genuine call” to helping outwork the “new approach to Anglican-Roman Catholic Ecumenism” – which is based around working together in justice, development and peacemaking.

‘Logical choice’

Archbishop David’s appointment was a supremely logical choice for the Archbishop of Canterbury to make.

Since 2010, Archbishop David has been co-chairman of ARCIC III, the third phase of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission. In that capacity he has worked alongside Archbishop Bernard Longley, the Catholic Bishop of Birmingham, and small teams of Anglican and Catholic scholars to find common ground between the two denominations.

Archbishop Moxon’s ARCIC III appointment followed years of him being involved with ecumenical dialogue here in New Zealand and on the international scene.

Archbishop David, who is 61, says he feels the Rome appointment is “a call, for the last stipended phase of my ordained ministry.

“In the last year,” he says, “I have been very conscious of approaching my twentieth year as Bishop of Waikato and of approaching my seventh year as Archbishop.

"If I was going to make a move, it would need to be about now in order to serve another role for a reasonable amount of time.”

Archbishop David’s appointment to Rome also triggers the need to fill a number of key posts in this province.

A new Archbishop of the New Zealand dioceses will have to be found, for starters – and that process will begin when the eight remaining Tikanga Pakeha bishops meet in January next year.

They will then forward the name of one of their number to the InterDiocesan Conference.

The IDC, which comprises Tikanga Pakeha bishops, elected clergy and lay people, will then decide whether to affirm that nomination. If they do so, their decision will then be declared to the General Synod/te Hinota Whanui and to the wider church.

Archbishop David says he hopes that decision will made early next year, rather than later, so that the new archbishop can prepare well for the 2014 General Synod and for the church’s bicentenary celebrations, which are also in 2014.

Question for Waikato and Taranaki

Archbishop David’s leaving also triggers the statutory obligation the Diocese of Waikato and Taranaki has under its canons to review whether it wants to continue with its unique dual bishopric model.

Assuming that it does so, there’ll be also be the need for that diocese to plan for the election, most likely midway through 2013, of a new bishop.

Archbishop David says his appointment to Rome will mean that, for a time, his own whanau “becomes global”.

His wife Tureiti recently led the development of a new $4 million Maori community health centre in Hamilton, and she believes she should stay, for the immediate future, as CEO of that centre.

So the Moxon whanau will visit Rome regularly, and Archbishop David will return to New Zealand during the year. The term of office for his new role is three years minimum to five years maximum, and there are generous provisions for leave and home travel.

Archbishop David will succeed the Very Rev David Richardson who, prior to his appointment to Rome in 2007, was Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne.

Archbishop David says he is already processing grief about leaving these islands and the church which he has served as a priest for 34 years.

“I am deeply grateful,” he says, “for everything that this church has shared with me and for all that I have been able to learn.

“I thank God for every opportunity and for many friends and colleagues. I will find ways of thanking so many of you in the months ahead for all that you mean to me.

“This church is a taonga and I will always treasure it.”

[Addition information...

Notes to editors: 

Biography of Archbishop David Moxon 

The Most Reverend David Moxon is currently the Bishop of Waikato, Senior Bishop of the New Zealand Dioceses, and an Archbishop of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.

David was born and raised in Palmerston North, New Zealand. He then went on to tertiary study at College House at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, graduating with a BA in Education and Psychology in 1974, before studying at Massey University, Palmerston North, where he graduated with an MA (Hons) in Education and Sociology in 1976. He went on to the University of Oxford Honours School of Theology, St Peter's College, Oxford, where he graduated with a BA (Hons) in 1978 and MA in 1982. David also has a Certificate in Maori Studies from Waikato University and an LTh (Aotearoa).

Before training to become a priest, David served a term as a youth worker with Volunteer Service Abroad in Fiji, and then worked as a tutor in the Education Department at Massey University. In 1978 Moxon was appointed curate at Havelock North, and in 1979 he was ordained as a priest in the Diocese of Waiapu. He remained at Havelock North until 1981, and was then appointed Vicar at Gate Pa, Tauranga, where he served for six years. In 1987 David was appointed Director of Theology Education by Extension, a position he held until 1993. During this time he edited ‘An Education for Liturgy Kit’, a Christian Initiation Resource Kit and a Bi-cultural Education Resource Kit. He was also a member of the Commission which produced A New Zealand Prayer Book: He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa.

In 13 August 1993, David was consecrated Bishop in Hamilton, the youngest New Zealand Bishop, replacing Roger Herft as Bishop of Waikato. In 2006 he was appointed Co-presiding Bishop of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and the Pacific, as part of New Zealand's new tripartite model of Anglican episcopacy. He works alongside William Brown Turei (Maori) and Winston Halapua (Polynesia).

He has contributed to the Church House Publishing (UK) series ‘Reflections for Daily Prayer’. He is the author of A Once and Future Myth (an Applied Theology of J R R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, and The Waikato Cathedral of St Peter: a prayerful walk on a sacred hill as well as author of Wings of the Morning: Messages of hope from Aotearoa in a new millennium.

David is the Anglican Chair of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC-3); was the Chair of the recently completed ‘The Bible in the Life of the Church’ project for the Anglican Communion which produced the document Deep Engagement, Fresh Discovery; Convenor of the Conference of Anglican Religious Orders in Aotearoa New Zealand (CAROANZ); a Patron of A Rocha, New Zealand, the Christian environment action group; and Chair of the Hamilton-based Mahi Mihinare Anglican Action, a ‘justice through service’ agency; a fellow of St Margaret’s College in the University of Otago; and an honorary fellow of St Peter’s College in the University of Oxford; and a Governor of the Anglican Centre in Rome. He is the Liaison Bishop for Anglican Religious in Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia, and also represents the Bishops on the Tikanga Pakeha Anglican Care Network.

David is married to Tureiti, who has Ngati Kahungunu and Ngati Tahu links. Tureiti was trained in early childhood education, and then in law, and is currently the Director of Hamilton primary health provider Te Kohao Health. David and Tureiti have four adult children.

The Archbishop’s Representation and a Centre for Anglican Studies and Dialogue

The Representation in Rome was first established in the months following Archbishop Fisher’s December 1960 visit to Pope John XXIII: the first such visit in modern times. The connection with Rome, once established, would be continued, in the words of Cardinals Willebrands, ‘by sending a representative of the two sees of Canterbury and York to follow very closely the preparatory work of the [Second Vatican] Council.’ The position has been known as the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the Holy See since the time of the Council.

Alongside this Representation, in 1966, with the encouragement of Archbishop Michael Ramsey and Pope Paul VI, the Anglican Centre in Rome was founded. The Archbishop’s Representative has also been Director of the Centre since that time. The Centre’s vision is ‘to promote Christian unity in a divided world’, and it seek both to enable Anglican – Roman Catholic dialogue at every level and to encourage the formation of friendly and informed relationships between Roman Catholics and Anglicans. The Centre gives opportunities for Roman Catholics to learn more about the Anglican tradition and Anglicans to learn about the Roman Church. A place of study, for groups and individuals, the Centre offers hospitality, dialogue and prayer in the search for unity. ]