I don’t speak Italian – but I was given a script with which to greet Pope Francis on behalf of the Scottish Episcopal Church. It went like this:
So no molto honorato di essere qui a reppresentare la chiesa anglicana di scozia.
Questo e’ un regalo per lei
Le porto I saluti della mia provincia. Preghiamo per lei
To be greeted by the Pope was of course the highlight of our visit to Rome – but after the audience we slipped into the Basilica behind and had the chance of seeing it empty.
I got the impression that the Anglican Centre in Rome and its Director, Archbishop David Moxon, quite like having visits from Anglican Primates. They are endlessly hospitable. But a visit like this gives them the chance of setting up meetings with Vatican officials – and demonstrating the world wide ‘reach’ of the Anglican Communion. So I went off to meet Archbishop Paul Gallagher who is the equivalent of the Vatican’s Foreign Secretary – keeping contact with the worldwide network of Nuncios. That was a chance to talk about the Anglican Primates Meeting and the journey of Scotland towards Independence – or not. I also met Bishop Brian Farrell of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity and Father Jim Puglisi of the Centro Pro Unione. We went to evening worship with the Sant’Egidio Community – it’s a lay movement which arises from the Second Vatican Council. It’s also the community which has received the refugees who come back from Lesbos with Pope Francis.
An unexpected treat was a performance of Hamlet by the Globe Theatre sponsored by the British Embassy to the Holy See.
We did a bit of tourism as well – not having been to Rome before. And the underlying connection was that I am a Patron of the Anglican Centre – and that Alison’s cousin, Canon Bruce Ruddock, is a former Director. I had the pleasure of getting to know Archbishop Sir David Moxon when he was one of the three Archbishops in New Zealand and the Anglican Consultative Council held its meeting there.