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.

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Thursday, 30 March 2017

St Catherine's Stuttgart - a welcoming place for refugees

In Stuttgart St Catherine's Parish Centre was originally conceived to be the administrative office for the congregation as well as a space for church meetings and gatherings such as choir practice. But the centre has taken on an enhanced role as the parish has responded to the influx of refugees in this city in Baden-W├╝rttemberg. It has become a place for refugees to come and find clothing, toys, and essential household goods that they require as they establish their new life in Germany. Of course they also receive care and advice from the volunteers from the parish who give their time to the centre.

One of the remarkable aspects to this work is that the parish has engaged two persons who are refugees themselves to work in the centre alongside our church volunteers. They are Salim, a young woman from Eritrea, and Shukri, a young man from Syria. Thus St Catherine's is encouraging refugees to help other refugees.

I had a brief interview with Salim and Shukri to give them a chance to tell their story and their hopes for the new life in Germany. The video can be found below, with the parish priest the Revd Canon Ken Dimmick translating from the German (and the choir rehearsing in the background!)

Seeing St Catherine's at work with refugees was just one aspect to a recent parish visit which also included baptisms and confirmations at the main Sunday morning mass, a joyous and wonderful celebration. Fr Ken and I were assisted by the auxiliary priests associated with the parish, the Revd Wolfgang Siebenpfeiffer, the Revd Julie Lipp-Nathaniel and the Revd Brigitte Gutbrod.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Christians, Muslims, diplomats and scholars consult on cooperation in the refugee crisis

As we know Europe is experiencing the worst refugee crisis since World War II. Religious organisations including the churches play many key roles in the midst of this crisis such as advocacy for responsible government policies on behalf of refugees and in helping to improve migrants' integration in receiving countries. In Europe several collaborative projects among religious bodies, governments and NGOs have been already put in place.

One of the most creative was established in Italy through the cooperation between the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Roman Catholic Comunit├á di Sant’Egidio, the Federation of Evangelical Churches and Tavola Valdese of the Waldensian Evangelical Church. The programme takes advantage of the provision of humanitarian visas to bring over a two-year period approximately 1000 refugees from Lebanon (Syrian refugees), Morocco (migrants from Sub-Saharan African countries fleeing from situations of risk caused by conflicts, terrorism, political instability, poverty, famine, drought) and Ethiopia. The shorthand term for the programme is "humanitarian corridors". It is a safe and legal alternative to provide safe entry for the most vulnerable refugees including single women with children, victims of human trafficking, elderly people and disabled or sick people, and facilitates their integration in Italy.

I was invited on 13th and 14th of March to participate in a policy dialogue promoted by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to assess the benefits and challenges of innovative programmes such as the humanitarian corridors and to see how such programs might be extended and duplicated in other countries. The round-table was attended by over 30 religious representatives, diplomats, policymakers and scholars.

Several of the participants also were invited to record short video clips about the role of religious groups in addressing the refugee crisis. I append two of them below, one given by me, and the other by a distinguished interfaith colleague, Imam Yahya Sergio Yahe Pallavicini, Chairman of the Council for Muslims in non Islamic Countries and President of COREIS (Italian Islamic Religious Community).

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Anglican-RC History made again!

Readers of this blog may find that this is getting rather repetitive, but Anglican-Roman Catholic history was made yet once again on Monday afternoon! For the first time ever the service of Anglican Evensong, according to the Book of Common Prayer, was celebrated in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Archbishop David Moxon, the Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, led the service using Cranmer's ancient words. Archbishop Arthur Roche, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, one of the most senior Englishmen in the Vatican, preached the sermon. The choir of Merton College Oxford sang the service.

The service was held in honour of St Gregory the Great on the nearest day to his old feast day, 12th March, which is still the date for the observance in the BCP. Pope St Gregory the Great sent St Augustine to England to evangelise the Anglo-Saxons. He has become an unofficial patron of the most recent ecumenical exchanges between the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches. His crozier-head was sent to Canterbury as a gesture of support during the Primates' Meeting in January 2016 and Pope Francis gave Archbishop Justin Welby a wooden crozier modelled on it during their meeting in October.

At the conclusion of the service itself we processed to the tomb of St Gregory in the Basilica, where Cardinal George Pell and I led prayers to honour the saint.

The clergy and many members of our parish of All Saints were present, and the servers, who are surely among the finest in Christendom, were provided by us!

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Ecumenical history will be made in Florence

Ecumenical history is going to be made tomorrow in Florence when the Anglican service of choral Evensong will be sung in the great baptistery of San Giovanni, next to the Cathedral. The ecumenical significance of this event is noteworthy: this is the first time that an Anglican service will be held in the ancient Florentine baptistery and is by kind permission of the Archbishop of Florence, His Eminence Cardinal Giuseppe Betori, and the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral. It will be led by the Chaplain of St Marks English Church, the Revd Fr William Lister. The Choir of St Mark’s will sing the service.

Fr Lister, besides being the priest of our Church of England parish in Florence is also responsible for St Peter's Sienna, and Holy Cross, Bologna, and is Area Dean of Italy. St Mark's is a busy international Church and is also an active venue for opera, concerts, and a wide range of artistic, literary and academic events for visitors and locals alike. The parish's role in strengthening relationships on the ground with the Roman Catholic Church adds in a significant way to our Anglican Communion's official dialogue.

Father William Lister

Friday, 3 March 2017

RC Bishop of Gozo donates Sunday collections to Anglican Pro-Cathedral in Valletta

Bp Grech and the Anglican Pro-Cathedral
The extraordinary ecumenical warmth which we have witnessed this past week with the visit of Pope Francis to our parish of All Saints Rome, continues to encourage us as we experience genuine fraternal cooperation and support from our Roman Catholic colleagues. For instance, earlier this week the Roman Catholic Bishop of Gozo, HE Mgr Mario Grech, publicly called for more unity between Catholics and Anglicans, and in this spirit announced that the collections during this Sunday’s masses in Gozo will be donated towards repairs to the Anglican Pro-Cathedral of St Paul in Valletta, Malta.

Bishop Grech said in a statement that whereas splits do exist between Christian Churches, “A true Christian must perforce be upset when cracks appear in our unity,” The Gozo Bishop said Anglicans in Malta and Gozo have launched a campaign to raise funds for repairs to their main church, the Pro-Cathedral of St Paul. The repairs are expected to cost some three million euros. Bishop Grech said Lent was a good time for works of charity, and for this reason the Sunday collections would be used to give a helping hand to “our Anglican brethren.”

The Chancellor of the Pro-Cathedral, the Revd Canon Simon Godfrey, who is a tireless worker for ecumenical relations in Malta and Gozo, has described this offer as "simply wonderful!" and a real expression of the "practical ecumenism" which the Pope has encouraged. Fr Simon noted that Bishop Mario refers in his announcement to the "special bond between the Anglican and Gozo Churches".

In my letter of thanks to Bp Grech I underlined how this generous gift is "a sure sign of our commitment to walk forward together in unity and love"

Canon Godfrey