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Monday, 16 July 2012

Old Catholic Congregations in Italy look to new home in the Church of England

It is not often that a diocese is asked to receive existing communities of Christians, together with their clergy, into its life. But such a process is under way in Italy. 

In March, I met with the Revds Teodora Tosatti and Renzo Rodani, priests of the Old Catholic Church  in Italy. That Church had been under the pastoral oversight of the Old Catholic Bishop of Switzerland, Dr Harald Rein. By mutual agreement that oversight was ending and a new ecclesial home was to be found for the Old Catholics. Mother Tosatti and Father Rodani thus approached me on behalf of their parishes, to request that they be incorporated into the structures of the Church of England. Anglicans and Old Catholics have been in communion since 1931 under the provisions of the Bonn Agreement, so there is no problem with regard to the inter-changeability of ministries, but there are pastoral and administrative matters which would need attention. (Information about the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht can be found here).   

In our March discussions we agreed the procedure for the clergy to become licensed priests of this diocese, and also the process, led by the Archdeacon of Italy and Malta, working with the church councils, to bring the parishes into the Diocese formally and constitutionally. This pastoral accompaniment is now under way. One feature of their Old Catholic inheritance which Mother Tosatti and Father Rodani wish to secure into the future was the retention of their Italian language services and liturgy. 

Mother Tosatti is parish priest of Dio Padre Misericordioso in Rome, while Father Rodani is parish priest of San Vincenzo di Lerins in Florence. Mother Tosatti is shown in the picture above between me and Archdeacon Jonathan Boardman of Italy and Malta.

Remember these clergy and their people in your prayers as the Archdeacon works with them and supports them in this time of transition.

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