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.

For official diocesan information please click the diocesan logo on the right.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Bishop Don Bolen

In December I mentioned that a long-standing ecumenical friend of the diocese, the Monsignor Donald Bolen, had been named by Pope Benedict to be the Bishop of Saskatoon in Canada. Mgr Bolen was the officer for Anglican (and Methodist) relations at the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity for many years.

His ordination as bishop was on the feast of the Annunciation. We send Bishop Don our warmest congratulations and prayers as he commences his episcopal ministry.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Olive or Palm branches?

The Sunday before Easter is known as Palm Sunday. The Church celebrates the Lord's messianic entrance to Jerusalem where he enters the mystery of his death and resurrection. It begins the week called Holy Week. The liturgical colour changes from violet to red to mark the commemoration of our Lord’s passion.

St George's College, the Anglican study centre in Jerusalem, in one of their circular letters pointed out that to understand Palm Sunday one must understand the distinction made in the Scriptures between the olive branch and the palm branch. (Only in St John's Gospel are the branches named to be palm branches, the other three Evangelists speak only of branches).

Marcus Borg and Dominic Crossan in their 2006 book The Last Week suggest that there would be two processions on their way to Jerusalem during the Passover. The "imperial procession" would come from the west, perhaps from Caesarea Maritima, with the emperor's representative, Pilate, coming to keep the peace in Jerusalem. It was the one time of the year that Rome felt it necessary to impose its pax on the Jewish capital. From Roman coins we know that the governor would have been carrying a palm branch, a sign of imperial power. Meanwhile the Jesus procession came from the east. As he made his way along the Mount of Olives, the crowd cut leafy branches (olive branches?) and waved them as they hailed him.

The olive branch symbolizes peace. The palm branch symbolizes imperial power. The two powers, of heaven and the empire, were about to clash.

There are many such contrasts associated with this day and even in the liturgy itself our cries range from “hosanna” to “crucify him”.

This ancient hymn from the Orthodox Church, sung on Palm Sunday, speaks poetically of this contrast:

Mounted on the throne in heaven, Christ God,
And on the colt on earth,
You accepted the praise of the Angels
And the hymn of the Children
Who cried to you:
Blessed are you, who come to call back Adam.
As we accompany our Saviour as he enters the Holy City we pray that we may have the grace to follow him to the cross, so that we might participate in his resurrection.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Porvoo Leaders' Consultation: Growing Together

The Porvoo Leaders’ Consultation was held in Sigtuna, Sweden from 18th – 21st March. It is a key meeting serving the Churches which have signed the Porvoo Agreement, when the Porvoo Contact Group (the main body which meets annually to serve the fellowship of the Churches) gives an account of their work over the last four years and seeks guidance and direction from the leaders of our Churches for the next period. It is a chance for the leaders to express any concerns and give suggestions to the Contact Group.

Once again I was one of the three Church of England delegates to the Leaders’ Consultation, along with the Revd Canon Dr Paul Avis of the Council for Christian Unity, and Mrs Margaret Swinson from the diocese of Liverpool. The Consultation is jointly chaired by Bishop Martin Wharton, the Bishop of Newcastle (below right), and Bishop Karl Sigurbjörnsson, the Bishop of Iceland (below centre), the co-chairs of the Contact Group. The Revd Rupert Moreton, the chaplain of St Nicholas, Helsinki (below left), is also in attendance as a member of the Porvoo Contact Group.

The theme of the consultation was “Growing Together”. Working groups met to examine some issues in the Churches' ministry, specifically lay ministry, the diaconate and women in the Episcopate. Workshops were  also held on migration/integration, climate change, rich/poor divide, the challenges of secularisation and responding to conflict.

Judging from the atmosphere at the meeting the Porvoo Communion is in good heart. There are some tensions within and among the Churches but the relationship of communion is proving to be resilient and robust. Within the fellowship there is increasing trust and we are committed to learning how to consult with eath other better and more effectively when issues arise which may affect our relationship.

The Diocese in Europe takes the Porvoo Agreement very seriously. The sharing of clergy, cooperation and even joint work are enabled in congregations of our diocese in Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Russia, Spain, Morocco, Turkey, Italy, France and Belgium. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark will sign the Porvoo Agreement later this year, which will further extend the possibilities for us.

The Consultation ended on Sunday with a service in the Cathedral in Uppsala, the ancient See of the Archbishop of the Church of Sweden.

There is a new website of the Porvoo Communion of Churches here.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Guidelines Regarding Extremist and Racist Groups

The Church of England has issued a Guidance Note on countering far right political parties, extremist groups and racist politics. The need for this advice stems from the rise of political parties in the UK which hold extreme or racist views. In countries of continental Europe the same phenomenon may be present to varying degrees. It is important for the faithful of our diocese, where ethnic diversity is cherished, to be alert to the activities of any such movements and never to waver from the theological truth that every person is created in the image of God. 

The principles which undergird the Guidance Note are a useful reminder of the teaching of the Church regarding racism:
  • Racism and religious hatred are theological issues. They must be taught to be sins and incompatible with Christian discipleship. Prayer, sermons and liturgy need to be unambiguous about the spiritual dangers of racism.
  • The rejection of evil, such as racism, is a key element of the Liturgies of Baptism and Confirmation.
  • We are all members of one human race under God. The concept of many races is an artificial construct which is not considered biblical (Acts 17:26).
  • The Church cannot accommodate those who would discriminate on grounds of ethnicity. In the cross of Christ we find the reconciliation of the diverse human family with each other and with God. As the Body of Christ, the Church models living with differences as a sign of the possibility of a redeemed and reconciled humanity.
  • In the congregation individuals should not be identified for personal criticism but racist behaviour and attitudes should be condemned. The Church’s mandate to offer the call to repentance must be taken seriously, as must the inclusion of those who respond to that call.
  • There is a need for consistency and integrity when confronting racism. Racism is indivisible – we cannot attack it in one area collude with it in other areas of life.
The Guidance Note can be found here.

21 March is the International Day Against Racism.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Christians: Migrants by Vocation (CEC - CCEE Joint Meeting)

For many years, the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the Council of European Bishops' Conferences (CCEE) have held an annual joint meeting.  This year from 7-11 March 2010 the meeting was held in Istanbul, at the invitation of the Ecumenical Patriarch His All Holiness Bartholomew I. I went as part of the CEC delegation, as a proxy for Bishop Christopher Hill, one of the Vice-Presidents of CEC, who was unable to attend.

The meeting focused on the issue of migration, as this is the European Churches' Year of Migration. This is of particular interest to our diocese, as we are largely a community of migrants ourselves  4 key presentations were given by the panelists above, from left to right: Doris Peschke, General Secretary of the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME); Theodora Tzakri, Greek Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs; Alp Ay, Director for Public Affairs of the Turkish Government; and Johan Ketelers, General Secretary of the ICMC (International Catholic Migration Commission).

The CEC brings together 120 Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Old Catholic Churches of all European Countries. It was founded in 1959. Its offices are in Geneva, Brussels and Strasbourg.

The CCEE gathers the Presidents of the current 33 (Roman Catholic) Bishops’ Conferences of Europe represented by their Presidents, and the Archbishops of Luxembourg, the Principality of Monaco, and the Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus, as well as the Bishop of Chişinău (Republic of Moldova). The CCEE Secretariat is in St Gallen, Switzerland.

His All Holiness Bartholomew I (left) is deeply committed to ecumenical relations in Europe and received us at the Patriarchate and joined us one evening for dinner and further conversation.

Follow the read more link for the full press release from the meeting.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Visit of Pope Benedict XVI to England: Ecumenical Implications

It has been confirmed by the Vatican that Pope Benedict XVI will visit Britain this year from 16 to 19 September. Today, Tuesday 16th Lambeth Palace issued this Press Release:

For immediate use - Archbishop welcomes Papal Visit
The Archbishop of Canterbury today welcomed the official announcement that His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI is to visit the UK in September at the invitation of Her Majesty The Queen: “The Pope's visit will be an opportunity to cement ties not only between the Holy See and the United Kingdom but also the Roman Catholic Church and other Christian churches in Scotland, England and Wales. I look forward particularly to welcoming Pope Benedict to Lambeth Palace on behalf of the Church of England.”

Readers will note in the Lambeth Palace release that this is state visit, not a pastoral one, even if such a distinction cannot be too sharply drawn for the Pope who is both a head of state and a pastor.

The beatification of John Henry Newman (pictured above) will be a high point of the Pope’s visit, on Sunday 19th September. Newman, a leader of the Oxford Movement in the 19th century, converted from the Church of England to the Roman Catholic Church in 1845. His beatification by a Pope, in England, will be an event requiring some sensitive ecumenical handling, especially in the light of last October's publication by the Vatican of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, a legal provision for former Anglicans to enter into the Roman Catholic Church while keeping elements of their own identity.

In this context it is helpful to know that the (RC) Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, has recently affirmed that the “close cooperation and deepening friendship and communion" between Anglicans and Catholics have "helped us to ensure that the various interpretations of and reactions to Anglicanorum coetibus have not seriously disrupted the relationships between our Ecclesial Communions". Archbishop Nichols stated "the commitment to commence a third round of discussions as part of the work of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission [ARCIC] has reinforced this relationship".

Saturday, 13 March 2010

New Archbishop of Turku and Finland Elected

Bishop Kari Mäkinen was elected on Thursday 12 March to be the next Archbishop of Turku and Finland, to succeed Archbishop Jukka Paarma who retires in June. Bishop Mäkinen has a doctorate in theology, and has been a parish priest, a professor of Church History and since 2006, Bishop of Turku. He is married to a priest, the Revd Eija Mäkinen. They have four children.

The vote was a run-off election between the two top two candidates of a previous round. Bishop Mäkinen, thought to be the more liberal candidate, won 593 votes while the runner-up Dr Miikka Ruokanen, Professor of Dogmatics at the University of Helsinki won 582.

Within the Archdiocese of Turku, the Archbishop and Bishop both act with full episcopal authority under an agreed division of pastoral responsibility for oversight of distinct deaneries. In addition, the Archbishop acts as the chairperson of several national church bodies including the General Synod, the Church Council and the Bishops’ Conference. The Archbishop, as chairman of the Board of International Relations, is also responsible for many international duties.

80% of the Finnish people are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland which is organised in 9 dioceses. The Church of England is in communion with the Finnish Church through the Porvoo Agreement. We have extensive work covering 9 cities in the country. The chaplain, the Revd Rupert Moreton, is based in Helsinki and is assisted by three other licensed clergy, three readers and many priests of the Finnish Church who have Permission to Officiate, under the Porvoo Agreement. Information on the Anglican Church in Finland can be found here.

The frrst bishop in Finland is believed to be St Henry, an Englishman, who died in 1156. He is the country's patron saint.

The new Archbishop will be installed on 6 June.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Anglican Peace and Justice Network Meets in Geneva 14 - 20 March

The Anglican Peace and Justice Network (APJN) is one of the Communion’s official networks. It meets every 2 - 3 years and this year representatives appointed by the Primates of 24 Anglican Provinces will gather in Geneva from 14 to 20 March. Dr Jenny Te Paa, a theologian from the Province of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, is the present Convenor. Our own Church of the Holy Trinity in Geneva has the privilege of hosting the opening Eucharist on Sunday 14 March.

APJN works on  issues of conflict resolution, human rights, economic and environmental justice, and lifting up the voices of women, young people and all those marginalized by oppressive systems. Many Anglicans in Geneva have connections with the international institutions based in the city which are engaged matters of global justice and peace, including the United Nations and the World Council of Churches. The APJN meeting in Geneva is therefore a strategic one, building and consolidating links with these institutions to assist the Communion in its mission of promoting justice and peace throughout the world. Claudine Haenni Dale of Holy Trinity Geneva (a reader in training in our diocese) is the "Main Representative of the Anglican UN Office in Geneva" and is the local co-ordinator for this meeting. More information on APJN can be found here.

Please remember the APJN gathering in prayers in your churches during the week of 14 to 20 March. I have sent the following greeting to be read at their opening eucharist on behalf of the people of our diocese.  To see the letter press the read more link

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Hospital Celebration in Pas de Calais

A parish visit to Pas de Calais took a different direction last Sunday 7 March when I was asked by the priest-in-charge, the Revd Sara MacVane, to celebrate the confirmation of one the parishioners in hospital where he was awaiting some tests. A suitcase was prepared for me with all that was required to turn the hospital room in the Clinique des Acacies, in the seaside town of Cucq, into a chapel for the occasion. (Pace French laïcité!) 

Paul Glaister (above far right) was the confirmand, and the service was a joyous occasion, joined by his wife and fellow parishioners from Boulogne. Only the hymns were omitted, and the lighting of a candle at the end to give to Paul, due to fire regulations in the clinic. He will receive the candle when he is next in his home congregation so that his fellow parishioners can visibly mark the occasion as well.

Congratulations Paul, and prayers for God's strength, healing and peace.

The Work of a Reader in Antwerp

Photo courtesy Rémy Catoir

On 3 December 2009 a fire started in the engine room of the cargo vessel City of Berytus while it was berthed in the port of Antwerp. The fire spread quickly to the car deck on the Dominica-registered ship. The entire crew were evacuated and Port Chaplain John Attenborough was on hand to attend to their needs. John is a reader of the diocese, attached to St Boniface Church in Antwerp, and the official Mission to Seafarers (MtS) chaplain in the port.

John’s pastoral care of the 16 crew, who had to leave the ship with only the clothes on their back, was praised by the Revd Tom Heffer, the Secretary General of the MtS.
“I am full of admiration for the efforts that John Attenborough and his team have done in supporting the crew of the City of Berytus. The work of the Society is often quietly performed, but when emergencies happen, our chaplains are ready to step up and meet the need as required”.
The MtS is one of the mission agencies with whom we work very closely in this diocese. It works in more than 230 ports caring for the practical and spiritual welfare of seafarers of all nationalities and faiths. Over 1,000,000 seafarers around the world are ministered to each year by the agency. The website of MtS is here.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Cardinal Cormac on Unity and Mission

The Spectator magazine sponsors a series of debates in England. One occurred on Tuesday 2 March. The topic, as provocative as ever, was “"England Should Be a Catholic Country Again".

Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor (left), the retired Archbishop of Westminster, was lined up to speak for the motion. Leading the speakers against the motion was Lord Richard Harries, the former Bishop of Oxford. The irenic words of the Cardinal deserve our attention. He and I worked closely together when he was the Roman Catholic Co-Chairman and I was the Anglican Co-Secretary of ARCIC, so his ecumenical vision is no surprise, but it is still very encouraging.

The Cardinal said:
“In speaking of a Catholic Country, let us agree that the Reformation conflict is over. We do not need to trade history. And I for one would be the first to be grateful for so much that the Anglican Church and other Christian Churches have brought to this country that has been of such benefit over the past four hundred years.

Instead, let me give you a better starting point for our debate. Go back to the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1982. For many, the key image was the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury, kneeling before the shrine of St Thomas a Becket, side by side in prayer. It was extraordinarily moving. Our two churches have already come a long way on the path back to the unity which Christ called for. And it will take more than even The Spectator to push us apart again. I am a convinced and dedicated ecumenist and I believe that the ecumenical movement is like a road with no exit. We are not in competition but in a shared endeavour. It is not a choice between the Church of England or Catholic England: it is a choice for the Church in England”.
Cardinal Cormac went on to say what a united and strong Church in England would do:
“This English Church would speak to the nation of true belief, of the dignity of the human person from the beginning of life to its natural end. It would preach a Gospel of life and truth. It would speak of what the Church is for, not so much of what it is against. It would speak for the poor, for the prisoner, a voice for the voiceless. It would speak of the family, to help forge a healthy nation, and seek to defuse, as the Chief Rabbi has said, the bomb that has been put under the cement that brings life together here in our country, namely, the family. A culture that encourages sex without love, marriage without commitment, children without the stability to nurture them properly, is a culture that needs a Church in the market-place; and a voice that speaks about the place of religion in society and of God who, in Christ, shows Himself a God of forgiveness, acceptance and love”.
Although refering to the English context, the Cardinal's words can be applied to a divided Church everywhere. Here is a vision both of unity and what that unity is for: the mission of the Church.

Friday, 5 March 2010

March 2010 Book Selection

Here is March's book selection. Once again the reviews are written by Dr Martin Davie, the Theological Secretary to the Bishops of the Church of England. If you wish to keep up with current theology the selection here is a good place to start.

This month a wide range of subjects is covered: discipleship, interpretation of scripture, pastoral theology; missiology, modern church history and ethics. Bonne lecture!

9 reviews are below. Just click on the read more link.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Historic Review of Child Protection Now Complete

The Diocese in Europe along with the other 43 Dioceses of the Church of England has now completed an extensive exercise reviewing past concerns about child protection. The review, the most comprehensive of its type across the Church of England, involved analysis of more than 40,000 files held on diocesan staff, clergy, and lay ministers dating back more than 30 years, by independent reviewers appointed in each diocese. Any concerns raised were recorded and passed to the Child Protection Management Group in each diocese, together with the independent reviewer’s recommended action on each case. Any urgent issues were referred immediately to the relevant statutory authorities.

The outcome of the review is as follows: 40,747 files were examined. 13 cases were identified requiring formal action, 11 were referred to the statutory authorities, (8 involved clergy and 3 involved a non-ordained person holding some form of church office). In 2 cases action by the statutory authorities was not possible, but the independent reviewers deemed them to warrant formal disciplinary actions by the Church.

The Rt Revd Anthony Priddis, Bishop of Hereford and Chair of the Church’s Central Safeguarding Liaison Group, said:
“As a result of this Review, we are now able to say that nobody representing the Church in a formal capacity has allegations on file that have not been thoroughly re-examined in the light of current best practice, and any appropriate action taken. But there is no room for complacency, and the Church, like other organisations working with children, remains committed continually to developing our procedures for safeguarding vulnerable people.”
This review has highlighted areas where the Church now needs to focus extra attention, namely:
  • How records are shared between dioceses when clergy and other office holders relocate;
  • How records can be shared between dioceses when a priest has ‘permission to officiate’ in more than one diocese;
  • How records of allegations which turn out to be unsubstantiated or unfounded should be kept in a way that resolves future uncertainty;
  • Introducing a standard requirement for all clergy to undertake ‘refresher’ safeguarding training at regular intervals.
Insights from the Review will inform the next edition of Protecting All God’s Children, the House of Bishops’ detailed child protection policy, due to be published by the end of 2010.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

International and Ecumenical Ministry in Trondheim

The 800 year old Vor Frue Church (Church of Our Lady) in Trondheim was the venue for confirmations on Sunday 28 February. The joy of the occasion was enhanced when, at the end of the service one of the confirmands, James, announced to the congregation (and to his surprised mother) that he was going to be married to his girlfriend Stine. He then presented her with a ring! The happy couple are pictured below.

The Anglican congregation in Trondheim is now over 40 years old, and is a community of many nationalities, including many international students as Trondheim is an important university town. On Sunday the congregation included members from England, Norway, South Africa, Cameroon, Nigeria, Czech Republic, Liberia, Germany, Singapore and Scotland.

Trondheim is the spiritual heart of Norway; the cathedral is the resting place of St Olav (martyred in 1030) and an ancient centre for pilgrimage, now increasingly being revived.

The Revd Mary Strømmen is the priest in charge of the Anglican congregation. She maintains excellent relations with the Bishop and Dean of Trondheim and other clergy of the Church of Norway, with whom we are in communion through the Porvoo Agreement. My pastoral visit included some time with the Sub Dean of the cathedral, the Revd Ragnhild Jepsen, who is one of several priests of the Church of Norway with Permission to Officiate in the Anglican Church. Mary is also assisted in the congregation by Reader Priscilla Beck.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Storms in France

As we get news of the clean up under way in Madeira, we now know of hurricane force winds and fierce rains which have battered many other areas of Europe this past weekend, but France in particular. At least 55 deaths are reported, mostly in France, but fatalities have been reported also in Portugal, Spain, Belgium and Germany.

The Archdeacon of France, the Venerable Ken Letts, sent me a message early this morning to say that he has been in touch with the clergy in the Atlantic coast of France, the Revds Peter Dawson (Biarritz), Paul Vrolijk (Aquitaine), Michael Hepper (Poitou-Charentes), Brian Davies (Vendée), Gareth Randall (Dinard), and Hazel Door (Brittany) about the storms and damage in their areas. Fr Letts reports that although there continues to be no electricity in some places and flooding in others, no-one directly connected to our churches has been hurt. Small numbers braved the elements for Sunday services and in the Vendée, services had to be cancelled.
O Almighty Lord God, our heavenly Father: Look, we beseech thee, in thy loving-kindness upon us thine unworthy servants, and grant us such weather as may relieve our present distress, to our comfort and to the glory of thy holy name; through Jesus Christ our Mediator and Advocate. (Irish Prayer Book).