|Fr Luciano, Mother Teodora, Archdeacon Vicki and Sra Faustina Bruno|
For several years there have been small communities of Old Catholic Italian speaking Christians in Italy. At one time they were under the oversight of the Old Catholic Bishop of Germany, and then later under the oversight of the Old Catholic Bishop of Switzerland. In 2011, the Swiss Old Catholic Bishop wrote to this diocese to say that he was relinquishing oversight of these Old Catholic groups and that they would decide to affiliate with either the Church of England, or the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe.
Since 2012 I have been working with those former Old Catholic clergy and congregations who have requested formally to come within the jurisdiction of the Church of England. We have welcomed these sisters and brothers in Christ warmly, and are seeking ways, within the norms of the Church of England, for certain Old Catholic traditions to be maintained within their new affiliation, the main such tradition being their own Old Catholic liturgical rites celebrated in Italian. The main congregations are centred in Florence (San Vincenzo di Lerins) , Rome (Dio Padre Misericordioso) and Perugia, with small diaspora groups elsewhere.
The work of gradual integration into our family continues, including the incorporation of congregations into the Associazione Chiesa d'Inghilterra, the Church of England's legal identity in Italy. Fr Renzo Radano (Florence), Mother Teodora Tosatti (Perugia) and Fr Luciano Bruno are already authorised for priestly ministry in the diocese. Already some vocations to the sacred ministry are being overseen by our Director of Ordinands, Fr William Gulliford.
Given this new development, namely Anglican worship in Italy in Italian, Archdeacon Vickie Sims and I have outlined to our Italian speaking clergy and people the ecumenical policy of the Church of England and our firm commitment to ecumenical relations with the Roman Catholic Church in Italy and therefore our agreement not to proselytise among Roman Catholics. Nevertheless, these congregations, now within the Church of England, do provide a home for Italian speaking Christians of a Catholic tradition, but who are not part the Roman Catholic Church. We are enriched by their being part of us, and we look forward to all the ways that our Italian and English speaking parts of the Church of England can support each other, within the one family.
In another article I will outline how another development in Italian language ministry is progressing.