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Anglican prelate welcomes Pope’s unexpected gesture at ecumenical Vespers

January 28, 2016

On January 25, as Pope Francis concluded the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, he asked an Orthodox prelate and an Anglican prelate to join him in conferring the final blessing at Vespers at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls.

Reflecting on the gesture, the Anglican prelate, Archbishop David Moxon, wrote that “it was incredibly moving to be part of what (I think) was an unprecedented invitation, which said far more even than the words which were actually recited.”

He continued:

It would be wrong to read too much into what happened, but in the minutes that followed the conclusion of the service, it was the talk of the evening. To me it seems a very poignant, unforgettable, and evocative sign of our essential unity in baptism and of our desire to share the blessings of God whenever there is opportunity; to bless and be blessed because we belong to the Church of the Triune God, which is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic.

Archbishop Moxon called upon non-Catholic Christians to ask for “forgiveness for the wrongs we have done and the wounds we have inflicted on the body of Christ.”


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  • Posted by: stpetric - Jan. 29, 2016 11:47 AM ET USA

    This was not unprecedented: Pope Paul VI had Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey join him to impart a blessing back in the 1960s. (Pope Paul also took off his episcopal ring and presented it to Archbishop Ramsey.) Perhaps what Archbishop Moxon had in mind was a "three-way" blessing by the pope, an Anglican prelate, and an Orthodox prelate.

  • Posted by: Lucius49 - Jan. 28, 2016 1:35 PM ET USA

    Well the Orthodox have valid orders but Anglicans do not (Apostolicae Curae Leo XIII) so why would the Pope invite the Anglican? This gives the impression that the Anglican has valid orders which he does not unless he was consecrated/ordained by someone with valid orders. Ecumenism has to respect the truth or it is not ecumenism.