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Saturday, 14 May 2016

Rich dialogue with RC Bishops in whose dioceses our Costa Blanca congregations exist


The Cathedral in Valencia

The Revd Marcus Ronchetti is Senior Chaplain of what is likely the largest parish in our diocese. The parish of the Holy Spirit Costa Blanca in Spain includes 8 congregations and continues to grow numerically and in spiritual depth. The chaplaincy borrows Roman Catholic churches for their Eucharists, but these are in two different Roman Catholic dioceses. On a parish visit this Pentecost weekend, Fr Marcus arranged meetings with both Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera of Valencia and Bishop Jesús Murgui Soriano of Orihuela-Alicante, to thank them for their hospitality and to hold discussions about collaboration in the future.

Cardinal Cañizares and Fr Marcus

Cardinal Cañizares has been back in his native Valencia for about 18 months now. He was previously the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship in the Vatican. We had a very warm visit and shared insights into how to reach people today with the Good News. The Cardinal has noticed how young people respond better when he speaks of Jesus as a person than when he preaches about the moral values of the Church. He affirmed that Anglicans and Roman Catholics are very close and on a journey towards each other which he hopes will be realised in full communion in the not too distant future. The news that Pope Francis announced a commission to study the question of women deacons was also a topic of discussion. The Cardinal hoped that the experience of the Anglicans and the Armenians might be taken into account, as well as the discussions about this that have been held in the Orthodox Churches. The Cardinal was also interested in the election of Sadiq Khan as Mayor of London. A Muslim mayor of a major European capital city he believes to be a much needed positive sign to the world that religion need not divide humanity.

Bishop Mergui and Fr Marcus

Bishop Murgui and I had met previously many years ago when he was Bishop of Mallorca. We shared a rich discussion about the isolation of diaspora congregations. The Bishop has many Russians, Ukrainians, Germans, Norwegians as well as British in his diocese and knows of the need to overcome the distance between communities, cultures and languages - a most appropriate discussion for Pentecost weekend. He and I will continue to explore, through his ecumenical officer and Fr Marcus, how our two communities can deepen times of meeting and exchange beyond the regular annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity events. There is scope for joint prayer, joint pilgrimages, joint service.

The Chapel of the Holy Grail, Valencia Cathedral

Two encouraging meetings with ecumenical partners, which demonstrate the esteem with which the Roman Catholic hierarchy of the area regard our Church of England parish of Holy Spirit, Costa Blanca. This is a tribute to the clergy and lay leaders of our Church who have worked steadily at building these friendships for many years.


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