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.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

On a cold night in Stockholm, the warmth and joy of the Easter faith is shared

During the Great Vigil of Easter, undaunted by the sub-zero temperatures (but blankets were provided for those who wished), the congregation of St Peter and St Sigfrid's Church in Stockholm gathered outside the Church for the lighting of the new fire, and then processed in to the warm Church behind the paschal candle held high by the Chaplain, the Revd Nick Howe.

11 candidates were confirmed during the service.

Christ is risen!


Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Chrism Mass in St Mark's Florence

19 clergy and readers from Italy, Malta, Monaco and Switzerland came to St Mark's, Florence, for a Chrism Mass on Tuesday. During the celebration the ordination vows of the deacons, priests and bishop were reaffirmed, together with the promises made by Readers, and the oils used by the Church throughout the coming year were blessed. The sermon was preached by the Revd Canon Simon Godfrey, Chancellor of St Paul's Pro-Cathedral in Malta. Fr Simon drew on some images from the Holy Week poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins to remind the sacred ministers of what is at the heart of their calling.

The service was marked by a deep unity and communion among the clergy. Priests from the US Episcopal Church serving in Italy were present, as were priests from the Old Catholic tradition. (The Archdeacon of Italy and Malta, the Venerable Jonathan Boardman is working with the small Old Catholic communities in Florence and in Rome / Perugia which were once under the Old Catholic Bishop of Switzerland to incorporate them into the Church of England).

It was particularly good to have three deacons at the mass. Traditionally three deacons dressed in different coloured dalmatics present each oil: oil of the sick (purple), oil of catechumens (green) and the chrism (white).

Also, during the service Mrs Penny Mittler, a Reader in the Diocese of Manchester, who spends part of the year in Florence, received Permission to Officiate for St Mark's.

Fr William Lister, the Chaplain of St Mark's was responsible for the liturgical arrangements in this beautiful and unique Church in the Diocese, and members of the parish provided a lunch following the service.


Monday, 25 March 2013

New life in St Andrew's Biarritz

One might argue that the Church of England congregation in Biarritz has a history that is one of the longest of our communities on the continent of Europe.  That is, if one includes the centuries prior to the reformation when services were taken for English troops by English priests at nearby Bayonne. This region of SW France became part of the Kingdom of England following the marriage of Henry II to Eleanor of Aquitaine. Bayonne itself remained in English hands from 1152 until 1451. The coat of arms of England can still be seen in the Cathedral in Bayonne.

In more modern times Church of England services were restablished in Bayonne in 1853 and later transferred to Biarritz in 1854 where they have remained ever since. A first church building ended up being too small, and in 1878 a large Church, St Andrew's, with seating for 630 people was dedicated by the then Bishop of London. St Andrew's had many famous visitors over the years including Queen Victoria.

After WWII the English-speaking community in the area declined and church attendance with it. In 1982 the building was sold to the municipality of Biarritz and is now the Museum of History.

Formerly St Andrew's Church, now the Biarritz Historical Museum
Since 1982 a small and faithful group of parishioners have continued services in a chapel of St Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, Morning Prayer being led by lay persons, and the Eucharist celebrated  by visiting priests. Once down to about 5 or 6 people there are signs of new life in St Andrew's congregation. The Revd Peter Naylor, one of the Honorary Assistant clergy of St Andrew's Pau, provides a monthly Eucharist  and the Acting Archdeacon of France, the Revd Ian Naylor, gives oversight as priest-in-charge. On Sunday 17 March, I presided at the first Confirmation in Biarritz for many years. The congregation was 50 persons to support the confirmation of two parishioners. Regular attendance figures are steady in numbers including many young adults from around the world who are on training programmes offered by Youth With a Mission, YWAM, which has headquarters in Biarritz.

We give thanks to God for the signs of life in St Andrew's, and for the faithful perseverance of parishioners who are looking towards the future.

Fr Ian Naylor, confirmands and Fr Peter Naylor

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Europe clergy helped to host Orthodox guests at Abp Justin's Installation

Some of the Orthodox guests at the Old Palace in Canterbury
Over 120 official representatives came from other faiths, other Churches and Churches in Communion with the Church of England to attend the inauguration of the ministry of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. One of the largest groups of ecumenical guests were 16 Metropolitans and Bishops representing the Orthodox Churches.

I was the Bishop-Host for the Orthodox for the three days of their stay in Canterbury. I was ably assisted by 4 of our own diocesan clergy who are the Archbishop of Canterbury's Apokrisiarioi (personal representatives) to the Churches in Greece, Russia, Romania and Serbia, Frs Malcolm Bradshaw, Simon Stephens, Patrick Irwin and Robin Fox. So this Diocese in Europe was key to the ecumenical hospitality offered by the Church of England on this historic occasion.

The ecumenical guests had an opportunity to greet the new Archbishop personally on Friday morning at the Old Palace.
Metropolitan John of Pergamon (representing the Patriarch of Constantinople) and Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk (representing the Patriarch of Moscow) with Archbishop Justin
There were some moments of free time to wander around the ancient city of Canterbury. Some of the Bishops were amused by the name of the pub which was next to the hotel where we were staying.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Inauguration of the Petrine Ministry of Pope Francis

Last Tuesday I had the privilege of being invited to the Inauguration of the Petrine Ministry of the Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis, as the Anglican Co-Chairman of IARCCUM, the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission. The Anglican delegation was headed by the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, who represented the Archbishop of Canterbury. Significantly, for the first time in over 1000 years, the Patriarch of Constantinople attended the inauguration in person.

The Roman Catholic Church is very hospitable to her ecumenical guests, and we were seated close to the altar in St Peter's Square.

I was struck by the simple dignity of the ceremony. Pope Francis was vested in a very plain chasuble and mitre which he used regularly in Buenos Aires. I couldn't help but notice the contrast to the vestments of the cardinals. He was given the two symbols of his office. The first was the Papal Pallium, a band of cloth with red crosses worn over the shoulders, made from lamb's wool, which represents the shepherd's role in seeking and carrying the lost, sick or weak sheep. The second was the Fisherman's Ring with the image of Peter the Fisherman, which recalls the role of the Church and the successors of the Apostles in letting down the nets and winning men and women to the Gospel.

In his moving homily  the Pope did not once refer to himself as the Pope but as the "Bishop of Rome". He has done this consistently since his election and I think he may be setting down a marker for a fresh understanding of the place of the Roman Primacy in the Church, which may be significant for Anglicans. He also stood at a lectern to deliver the homily and preached without his mitre. He spoke from the heart about the Church needing to care for and serve the world, all people and even all creation (a Franciscan theme) with tenderness and love. He emphasised the priority we must give to the needs of the poor. From the crowd's response of spontaneous applause to these remarks he will have received a strong affirmation of this  emphasis he clearly wants to place in his ministry.

I also enjoyed listening to his Italian spoken with the soft, sing-song accent of a native Spanish speaker from Buenos Aires!

Bishop Geoffrey announces he will retire on 8 November

Bishop Geoffrey, the Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe, announced today that he will retire and leave office on 8 November 2013. He will bid farewell to the diocese formally at the Friends of the Diocese service on 23 October in London, and later on 1 November, All Saints Day, in the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Gibraltar. Bishop Geoffrey's full retirement announcement can be read here
We wish Bishop Geoffrey well as he prepares for his final months in office. 
The diocese will soon be entering a time of transition. The Diocesan Secretary, Mr Adrian Mumford, has indicated that the process for finding a new Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe is quite similar to that in English diocese  The Archbishop's Secretary for Appointments, Caroline Boddington, guides the process. As it is not a Crown Appointment the final decision is made, not by the Prime Minister's Office, but by three bishops who act jointly: the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London and a bishop nominated by the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council. The Standing Committee of the Diocesan Synod acts as the Vacancy in See Committee for the Diocese and closely follows the Vacancy in See procedures as for all the other dioceses. 

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Archbishop of Canterbury's Statement on Election of Pope Francis

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop Justin Welby, has offered his warmest welcome to Pope Francis on his election.

The Archbishop's full statement reads:

“We wish Pope Francis every blessing in the enormous responsibilities that he has assumed on behalf of Roman Catholics around the world.
His election is also of great significance to Christians everywhere, not least among Anglicans. We have long since recognized—and often reaffirmed—that our churches hold a special place for one another. I look forward to meeting Pope Francis, and to walking and working together to build on the consistent legacy of our predecessors. May the love of Christ unite us, and intensify our service in a genuine and fruitful ecumenism that can be a blessing for the Body of Christ throughout the world.
Pope Francis is well known as a compassionate pastor of real stature who has served the poor in Latin America, and whose simplicity and holiness of life is remarkable. He is an evangelist, sharing the love of Christ which he himself knows. His choice of the name Francis suggests that he wants to call us all back to the transformation that St Francis knew and brought to the whole of Europe, fired by contemplation and closeness to God.
As I begin tomorrow a prayer pilgrimage toward my own inauguration as Archbishop in Canterbury next Thursday, Pope Francis will be much in my own prayers, as he will be throughout the coming months and years.”
The Archbishop of York will represent the Archbishop of Canterbury at the installation of Pope Francis on Tuesday. I have been asked to be part of the delegation in my capacity as Anglican Co-Chairman of IARCCUM, the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission, along with  Archbishop David Moxon, the Anglican Co-Chairman of ARCIC, the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, (the theological dialogue).

It will be a busy week. We return from Rome on Wednesday and go straight to Canterbury for another installation the next day, that of the Archbishop of Canterbury, at which I have been asked to host the guests from the Orthodox Churches.

The Church of England has produced this prayer for the new Bishop of Rome:

Almighty God,
shepherd of souls,
we pray for Francis I chosen to be Pope:
Guide him by your Spirit,
give him grace to lead people in prayer and zeal
and to follow in the footsteps
of Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Anglican Parish of Lille offer hospitality to a sister Old Catholic congregation

Christ Church, the historic Anglican congregation in Lille, quite apart from its own considerable parish programme, offers hospitality to a growing community of Old Catholics in the Nord region of France. France is not one of the traditional homelands of Old Catholicism (unlike the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and the Czech Republic) and the isolated communities, such as the one which meets in Lille, come under the oversight of the Archbishop of Utrecht Joris Vercammen. The Old Catholics in France value very highly their communion with Anglicans.

The Revd Canon Debbie Flach gives her support to Père René Varenne and his faithful, who gather in Christ Church Lille once a month for a Eucharist (in French). The average congregation is about 120 people.

During my recent visit to Christ Church, I was invited to preside at the Old Catholic Mass and to speak about the relation of full communion which exists between the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht and the Churches of the Anglican Communion, a relation which has been brought about by the Bonn Agreement of 1931.

More information on Old Catholics can be found here.

Père René Varenne and Canon Debbie Flach after the Old Catholic Mass at Christ Church

Monday, 11 March 2013


On Thursday 7 March over 80 personal assistants and secretaries of bishops of the Church of England gathered at Lambeth Palace for a development day.

I was invited, along with one of my brother bishops, Alan Winton of Thetford, to be a speaker and a participant in what was termed a "grill-a-bishop" session. Someone did a calculation: in the Great Hall at Lambeth Palace there was a total of 439 years of experience in being an assistant to a bishop. Not surprising that the discussion and questions were lively and stimulating. The collective wisdom of these servants of the Church was only matched by their enormous patience in working for very difficult people. The grilling was not too hot!

We were joined by Mr Ben Yallop who is the Private Secretary to the President of the Queen's Bench Division. There were remarkable parallels between his job of supporting one of the most senior judges in England and Wales and that of a bishop's assistant or secretary. And not just because bishops and judges both wear funny clothes!

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Ecumenical cooperation deepens in Athens

Ecumenical cooperation continues to grow in Greece between Orthodox and Anglicans. Recently, 'Apostoli', the administrative centre for the Greek Orthodox Church, approached the Anglican Chaplaincy in Athens and enquired as to whether it would be able to provide free English lessons for Greek children of families on very low incomes. Some of the children have received lessons at language schools but loss in family income because of the economic crisis has meant that they had to be withdrawn. Volunteers from the Anglican Church of St Paul offered assistance - one a trained teacher.

On Wednesday 5 March the first lesson was given as pictured above. Lessons are provided twice weekly at the administrative centre. This is one of several projects in Athens where the Orthodox Church and the Anglican Church are working together, particularly during this time of economic hardship in Greece.