Pope Francis delivers his blessing during an evening prayer service at All Saints' Anglican Church in Rome Feb. 26. It was the first time a pope has visited an Anglican place of worship in Rome. CNS photo/Maria Grazia Picciarella, pool

Humility is first step to unity, Pope says during visit to Anglican parish.

By  Elise Harris, CNA/EWTN News
  • February 27, 2017

VATICAN CITY – During his Sunday (Feb. 26) visit to Rome’s Anglican parish of All Saints, which marked the first time a Roman Pontiff has set foot in an Anglican parish inside his own diocese, Pope Francis voiced gratitude for the good relations Catholics and Anglicans now enjoy, and said that on the path toward full communion, humility has to be the point of departure.

“(Humility) is not only a beautiful virtue, but a question of identity,” the Pope said.

He noted that in evangelizing the Christians in Corinth, St. Paul had to “grapple” with the fact that relations with the community weren’t always good. But when faced the question of how to carry out the task despite ongoing tensions, “where does he begin? With humility.”

“Paul sees himself as a servant, proclaiming not himself but Christ Jesus the Lord. And he carries out this service, this ministry according to the mercy shown him,” he said, adding that this ministry is done “not on the basis of his ability, nor by relying on his own strength, but by trusting that God is watching over him and sustaining his weakness with mercy.”

To become humble, he said, “means drawing attention away from oneself, recognizing one’s dependence on God as a beggar of mercy: this is the starting point so that God may work in us.”

Francis then quoted a former president of the World Council of Churches, who described Christian evangelization as “a beggar telling another beggar where he can find bread.”

“I believe Saint Paul would approve,” he said, because “he grasped the fact that he was fed by mercy and that his priority was to share his bread with others: the joy of being loved by the Lord, and of loving him.”

This visit coincided with the 200th anniversary of the foundation of the Anglican parish community in the heart of the Eternal City, and consisted of a short choral Evensong service, during which the Pope blessed and dedicated an icon of “St. Savior” commissioned for the occasion.

During the ceremony, the symbolic “twinning” of All Saints Anglican Church with the Catholic parish of “Ognissanti” – the only Catholic parish in Rome dedicated to All Saints – also took place, forming strong ecumenical ties between the two.

Ognissanti is the parish where Bl. Paul VI, on March 7, 1965, celebrated the first Mass in Italian following the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

After his arrival, Pope Francis was greeted by the church's pastor, Rev. Johnathan Boardman, and Rev. Robert Innes, Bishop of the Church of England Diocese in Europe.

In his greeting, Innes thanked Pope Francis for his “global leadership, and for the particular inspiration you have been to those of us in the Anglican Communion,” particularly when it comes to the issues of the poor, migrants, refugees, and human trafficking.

“Within Europe and our diocese, you have challenged members of the European Union to rediscover their Christian heritage and values. Your published work speaks far beyond Rome in addressing difficult ethical issues that face us all,” he said.

Innes voiced his hope and prayer that the Pope’s visit would be “one more small step in further strengthening the unity between our churches and in celebrating the deep bonds of Anglican Roman Catholic friendship that we already enjoy.”

(Story from the Catholic News Agency)

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