to Bishop David's blog. Here you can find news, information, articles and pictures about the Church of England Diocese in Europe. We have over 300 congregations or worship centres serving Anglican and (mostly) English-speaking people in Europe, Morocco, Turkey, Russia and some central Asian countries.

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Friday, 10 November 2017

St Thomas Becket Hamburg pilgrimage to Rome

Edoardo guides the pilgrims through the Vatican Museums
17 people from the parish of St Thomas a Becket in Hamburg recently made a pilgrimage to Rome. From 23 to 28 October, led by their priest, the Revd Canon Dr Leslie Nathaniel, the pilgrims who aged from 17 to 70 visited many of the Christian sites as well as the ancient monuments of the Eternal City. I was pleased to be able to accompany the pilgrims for a couple of days, as I was in Rome for other meetings at that time.

One of our postulants for Holy Orders, Edoardo Fanfani, from All Saints Rome, who is a student at the Pontifical Gregorian University studying art history was able to be the guide for the group. Edoardo knows just about everything there is to know about Rome, her buildings, her art, her monuments, and links all this to the Christian presence and life in this his native city.

Fr Leslie Nathaniel at the Papal General Audience
Among the highlights of the pilgrimage was a visit to the Anglican Centre in Rome, where Associate Director Fr Marcus Walker gave the group a short introduction to the role of the Centre and an overview of Roman Catholic-Anglican relations over these past 50 years of formal dialogue. The parishioners of St Thomas Becket were thrilled to find that one of the most precious items at the Anglican Centre is a relic of St Thomas Becket himself!

Fr Marcus presenting the work of the Anglican Centre in Rome

Another highlight was the visit to the Catacombs of Santa Priscilla where some of the most ancient Christian art can be found, including a late 3rd century image of the Blessed Virgin Mary with the child Jesus.

There are more than 10 km of passage ways in these catacombs, and some 40,000 early Christians were buried here, including 7 early Popes. We were given permission to celebrate the eucharist in an area of the catacombs close to the tomb of St Marcellinus, Bishop of Rome in the late 3rd century. It was a very moving place to pray together and celebrate the mass.

One of the pilgrims, who is normally confined to a wheelchair, was unable to descend into the catacombs, but we were able to bring Holy Communion to him when we surfaced after the eucharist.

The pilgrims joined in the General Audience held in St Peter's Square, and had special seats reserved for them, close to Pope Francis.

It was a joy to be able to have a short while with these pilgrims and to get to know them (I had confirmed a number of them) and spend time sharing our faith in Rome. St Thomas Becket parish is already a deeply ecumenically minded community and this pilgrimage is sure to strengthen that commitment.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi is installed as Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome

The journey of Anglicans and Roman Catholics towards the goal of visible unity was given a further impetus yesterday, 26 October, when the new Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the Holy See, Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi, was installed in post by Archbishop Justin Welby. 

The service which was Anglican Evensong sung by the joint choirs of All Saints Anglican Church and St Paul’s within the Walls Episcopal Church, (with our own Canon Jonathan Boardman of All Saints as Cantor/Precentor), was held in the Caravita Church, the home of an English-language Roman Catholic Community in the city. There was a hearty assent from Archbishop Bernard when the Archbishop of Canterbury asked him “Will you commit yourself to the ministry of reconciliation striving to make visible the unity of the Church in Christ?”

The homily was preached by His Excellency Archbishop Paul Gallagher the Secretary for Relations with States from the Vatican’s Secretariat of State. Archbishop Paul affirmed that our journey towards unity was not merely about cooperation but was in fact a moral imperative, as it comes from the wish and prayer of Christ himself. After the formal installation, Archbishop Bernard was formally welcomed by His Eminence Cardinal Koch, the President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Her Excellency Mrs Sally Acworth the UK Ambassador to the Holy See (on behalf of the diplomatic community), the Revd Canon Jonathan Boardman on behalf of All Saints, the Revd Austin Rios on behal of St Paul’s Episcopal Church, and the Revd Tim Macquiban on behalf of Churches Together in Rome.

Archbishop Bernhard is a former Primate of the Anglican Church in Burundi. He has served on the Anglican Consultative Council and has been active in seeking peace and reconciliation in the Great Lakes region of Africa. He is the first African to hold the post of Director of the Anglican Centre, and the first Francophone. At the Evensong the first reading was in French and a Burundian song was sung to mark the significance of this appointment. It is a marvellous sign of the Church’s catholicity that the Anglican Communion now has an African legate to a South American Pope! 

The service, which so many remarked underlines the reality of a deep committed and fruitful official relationship between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church, concluded with a solemn blessing given together by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop Bernard and Archbishop Paul Gallagher.

(Photos courtesy of the Anglican Centre in Rome)

Monday, 23 October 2017

Palma Cathedral filled for commemoration of the Reformation

On Sunday 16 October, the Cathedral in Palma de Mallorca was packed for a service to commemorate 500 years since the start of the Reformation. Fr David Waller, the Chaplain of St Philip and St James, Mallorca, and I joined clergy from the German Protestant Church, the Church of Sweden, the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church for the service, at which Bishop Margot Käßmann of the Evangelical Church in Germany preached.

Bishop Käßmann, front, 3rd from right
I estimate that probably close to 2000 were present, mostly German visitors and residents on the island. The wonderful gothic cathedral was a perfect acoustic setting for classical German Lutheran chorales, hymns and brass instrumental works, even if such a service in a very Catholic Mediterranean seemed a long way from Wittenberg!

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Our Lady of Peace - a symbol of the international welcome at St Philip and St James, Palma de Mallorca

The Anglican Chaplaincy in Mallorca, Spain, has three congregations based in Palma, Puerto Pollensa and Cala d’Or. On Sunday 15 October I was able to visit the congregation in Palma for the Sunday Eucharist.

The Church in Palma is dedicated to St Philip and St James. Icons of these two apostles are on either side of another icon of  Our Lady of Peace. In this icon Our Lady is surrounded by the heads of 9 children, representing the traditional ethnic groups of humanity. It is a fitting symbol for this international all-age congregation. 

Parishioners at the coffee hour
It was a joy to visit for the Sunday eucharist, especially as I learned from the Chaplain the Revd David Waller that there was to be a Church Council meeting following, at which there was only routine business, and it was not necessary for me to attend!

Church Council

Saturday, 21 October 2017

HG Bishop Angaelos brings a message of hope at the Coptic Nayrouz Service

On 17 October 2017 at St Margaret's Church, Westminster, the annual Coptic New Year (Nayrouz) celebrations were held, at which, His Grace Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Church in the UK presided and preached.

His Grace Bishop Hovakim of the Armenian Apostolic Church
It is an important annual event in London, with significant ecumenical and inter-faith dimensions. The martyrs of the Church in the Middle East are always commemorated, but increasingly it has become an important moment when religious and political leaders from across UK society come together to pray for those around the world who are oppressed because of their religion. Thus addresses were given by Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, members of parliament, and government ministers. Messages were read from HRH The Prince of Wales, the Prime Minister of the UK, the Archbishop of Canterbury. I had the honour of reading the message sent from Her Majesty the Queen.

In his powerful sermon, HG Bishop Angaelos said of religious freedom, and the martyrdom of so many who are denied that freedom: "If God respects humanity enough to empower us all with a freedom of choice, who are we to decide who has the right to believe or not believe? The Christian message has as its ultimate strength, the ability with which it can consciously and actively love and even forgive those who not only persecute, but kill us. That is what sets this apart. It is not because we are better than anyone else but because it is what we are called to do.” 

His Grace went on to say, "The gathering in this church this evening resembles the beautiful mosaic that is British life; from religious leaders to political leaders, social activists and human rights defenders, to members of the general public, we all work together. Together we should use whatever platform or gift we have to further this message. It is a tragedy if we feel there is nothing we can do, because the reality is that there is never a darkness that cannot be broken by the slightest light, and there is never a problem that cannot be addressed even if not fully resolved.”

So we continue to pray for all who suffer religious persecution and as we gather year by year, there may be signs of improvement around the world, and "less to regret and forgive, and more to celebrate and be joyful about".

Our Diocese was also well represented at this service by Registrar Aiden Hargreaves-Smith and my Chaplain, Deacon Frances Hiller, both well known to HG Bishop Angaelos.

Diocesan Registrar Aiden Hargreaves-Smith
Deacon Frances Hiller

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi is welcomed at All Saints Rome

Fr Marcus and Archbishop Bernard
I took advantage of being in Rome for ecumenical meetings to invite the new Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, and the Archbishop of Canterbury's Representative to the Holy See, to preach at All Saints on Sunday 8 October. Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi has already begun his work at the Anglican Centre, of which I am a governor, and will be formally inaugurated in his new post by the Archbishop of Canterbury on the 26 October.

Archbishop Bernard has been a friend for many years as he served as Primate of the Province of Burundi as well as on the Anglican Consultative Council during the time when I was on the Anglican Communion staff. The Sunday celebration in All Saints was a wonderful opportunity to introduce Archbishop Bernard and his wife Mathilde to the congregation, itself a very international community.  All Saints parish will make them both welcome in the years ahead and will support Archbishop Bernard's vitally important ecumenical role.

Fr Marcus Walker, the Deputy Director of the Anglican Centre, well known already to All Saints, was the Deacon for the mass.

Some of the Sunday School welcome Archbishop Bernard
There were some surprising coincidences at the service that day. At All Saints there is a custom at the end of the Eucharist to ask visitors to introduce themselves and say where they are from. One couple, visiting from Ottawa, are in a parish where one of the priests was once a student of Archbishop Bernard back in Burundi. Another couple were from my former Diocese of Niagara, David and Jean Archbell. They were celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary in Rome. You can imagine their surprise when they turned up at All Saints and found that the one presiding was the person who, when just a curate, had prepared them for marriage 35 years ago! We agreed that none of us has changed over those years!

It seems it is true that "all roads lead to Rome".

The Archbells

Friday, 6 October 2017

Italy and Malta Synod - energised by faith

Archdeacon Vickie Sims introduces Ian Carter, Diocesan Safeguarding Manager
"Energised by Faith" was the theme of the recent Synod of the Archdeaconry of Italy and Malta. From 27 - 30 September the clergy and lay representatives of the Archdeaconry met in Villa Sacro Cuore, outside Milan for their annual sessions, under the presidency of Archdeacon Vickie Sims.

Dr Clare Amos, Diocesan Director of Lay Discipleship
Dr Clare Amos, the Director of Lay Discipleship led the bible studies on the Transfiguration and the Emmaus stories. Using many images of these biblical events and quotes from poets and theologians, she helped the synod delve into the rich mystery of these accounts. We explored how the Transfiguration is a lens through which we can perceive the truth of the Gospel today. Quoting Martin Eggleton, Clare said, "Transfiguration does not do away with what is, it changes one's perception of it, heightens it, enables it to be something revered, not in a magical sense, but with true awe. This is what happened on the mountain wide when the disciples had their transfiguring experience with Jesus." With regard to the Emmaus story, Clare said "these two travellers are you and I; they are the church walking with Christ the long road of history".

Clare also led an introductory session on discipleship in the Diocese in Europe. She reflected on how aspects and descriptions of the Blessed Sacrament, which is of course central to our lives as Christians, can underline aspects of our discipleship vocation:
Community  -  "Communion"
Worship - "Eucharist" (= thanksgiving)
Mission - "Mass"
Learning - "Lord's Supper"

Dr Pemberton Ford
In other business, the Revd Dr Carrie Pemberton Ford, Director of the Cambridge Centre for Applied Research in Human Trafficking, addressed the synod on this vital matter, which touches upon our diocese, particularly with the increased migration of peoples from the Global South.

In other business, Ian Gibson and Tola Hummel from the Diocesan Safeguarding team were on hand to give updates on the Safeguarding agenda which is central to our diocesan life, and to have valuable informal discussions with synod members. Archdeacon Sims led a session on some essential parish administration and governance questions and chaired reporting sessions from the congregations across Italy and Malta.

Assistant Safeguarding Manager Tola Hummel with Synod Member Una Scaletta
Locum priests in our diocese (and we have over 200 on our locum list) offer a vital ministry in so many places, during an interregnum, for holiday cover as well as staffing some of our congregations which have only seasonal ministry, or which have a pattern of using a permanent rota of visiting clergy. Three locum priests serving in the Archdeaconry came and presented on their experience of their work and gave valuable insight as well as advice, on how the ministry of locums can be made even more welcome and how the gifts and experience of locum priests can be better used.

Locum priests Ed Hanson, Richard Gowty, and Derek Goddard,

Thursday, 5 October 2017

HRH The Prince of Wales at St Paul’s Valletta

HRH The Prince of Wales paid a special visit to St Paul’s Pro Cathedral in Malta on Wednesday 4 October. It was an opportunity for him to review the restoration work on the Cathedral, to which the Prince has made a generous personal contribution. (The total restoration appeal is for €3 million). The Chancellor of the Pro Cathedral, the Revd Canon Simon Godfrey, gave Prince Charles a tour of St Paul’s itself, a building which owes its origins in 1844 to the Prince’s own ancestor, Queen Adelaide.

His Royal Highness then officially opened the newly refurbished undercroft of the Cathedral which is now to serve as a place of welcome for the many visitors to Valletta as well as an educational centre. The opening ceremony which included a formal blessing of the undercroft, also included prayers for two other events in Malta which Prince Charles will be taking part: the “Our Ocean” conference which aims to empower a new generation of leaders, entrepreneurs, scientists and civil society to identify solutions and commit to actions for clean and sustainably managed oceans; and the 75th anniversary of the awarding of the George Cross by King George VI to the people of Malta for their bravery and heroism during the siege of Malta in World War II.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Another new congregation in the diocese, St Albert of Trapani, Randazzo

St Albert of Trapani is a Sicilian saint from the 13th century, a Carmelite, widely known for his preaching and miraculous healings. He is also the patron of one of this Diocese's newest developing congregations. I was able to visit this congregation, located in the town of Randazzo on the slopes of Mount Etna, for the first time recently. I was accompanied by the Archdeacon of Italy and Malta, Vickie Sims. The occasion was the Feast of the Holy Cross. It was a warm and enthusiastic gathering. The mass was according to Common Worship, but in Italian. Archdeacon Vickie served as the deacon of the mass and also translated my homily for the assembled worshippers. It was televised by a local station! Visitors joined us from the Anglican congregations in Rome and Taormina.

The priest is the Revd Giovanni La Rosa, who was received into the communion of the Church of England at the Chrism mass last March. He has been mentored by clergy of the Archdeaconry and continues his journey deeper into the Anglican tradition, according to the norms of the Diocese. I was pleased to offer a special blessing for Fr Giovanni for his ministry among the faithful of St Albert of Trapani.
Il Signore ti conceda  la gioia di presiedere e di servire fedelmente, in comunione con il tuo Vescovo e con il tuo Arcidiacono, la comunità italiana anglicana: Annuncia la parola di Dio, Celebra la grazia di Dio testimoniando la carità di Cristo. Amen
The Lord grant you the joy of presiding and serving faithfully. In communion with your bishop, your archdeacon, and the Italian Anglican community, proclaim the Word of God, and celebrate the grace of God, bearing witness to the love of Christ. Amen. 
St Albert of Trapani with his copy of Common Worship!
There are several communities of Anglicans who worship in Italian across the Archdeaconry. This is a relatively new development, to provide such ministry to Anglicans where it is requested whilst maintaining our clear position and policy, that we do not engage in proselytism of Christians from other traditions but work with our sister Churches wherever we are with ecumenical solidarity and commitment.

After the mass in Randazzo there was a convivial community meal of pizza, local wine and some delicious Sicilian desserts. The congregation, made up of people of all ages, seemed to feel uplifted by the visit, judging from a quote from the parish website: "the visit of the bishop reminds us that our community is part of the great family of the Church of Jesus, following in the Anglican tradition. We thank the Lord for this pastoral visit and confirmed in faith we continue our path in the Anglican way, with conviction and enthusiasm".

Padre Giovanni
I, too, was heartened by the warmth, the faith, the commitment and the palpable love of this congregation. Pray for its continual growth and development.

The feast day of St Albert of Trapani is 7 August. The collect for the feast:
Lord God,
you made Saint Albert of Trapani
a model of purity and prayer,
and a devoted servant of Our Lady.
May we practise these same virtues
and so be worthy always
to share the banquet of your grace.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Greater Lisbon Chaplaincy is a warm home for people from around the world

The Greater Lisbon Chaplaincy consists of 2 congregations, St George's Lisbon, and St Paul's Estoril. Together they serve the English-speaking community in the Greater Lisbon area, and the members are a diverse community from around around the world. Anglican worship in Lisbon can be dated back to 1654!

I visited the chaplaincy on the weekend of 2 - 3 September. It was an excellent opportunity to meet with the Church Council and with a wide range of parishioners and to see how the new priest, the Revd Dr Frank Sawyer, and the chaplaincy were forming an excellent relationship with an encouraging and renewed common vision for the future emerging. (Fr Frank is, ahem, a fellow alumnus of Trinity College Toronto!). During my visit I met parishioners from every continent, except Antarctica.

Children make their First Communion
Fr Frank is ably assisted by two honorary assistant priests, the Revd Paula Rennie, and the Revd Frances Le Blanc. During the Sunday Eucharist I was also able to authorise João Soares as a Congregational Worship Leader, to be part of the ministry team. The Sacrament of Confirmation was also celebrated and Fr Frank used the festive occasion to admit some young children to Holy Communion.

João Soares authorised as a Worship Leader

Fr Frank Sawyer with parishioners originally from Pakistan