Bishops Robert and David have been nominated by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Pope Francis to be commissioned among 19 pairs of Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops from across the world to take part in united mission in their local areas.
Gavin Drake reports that “The bishops, selected by the International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (Iarccum) were “sent out” for mission together by the Pope and Archbishop from the same church were Pope Gregory sent Saint Augustine to evangelise the English in the sixth Century.
“Fourteen centuries ago Pope Gregory sent the servant of God, Augustine, first Archbishop of Canterbury, and his companions, from this holy place, to preach the joyful message of the Word of God,” Pope Francis told the bishops. “Today we send you, dear brothers, servants of God, with this same joyful message of his everlasting kingdom.”
Archbishop Justin Welby told them: “Our Saviour commissioned his disciples saying, ‘Peace be with you’. We too, send you out with his peace, a peace only he can give. May his peace bring freedom to those who are captive and oppressed, and may his peace bind into greater unity the people he has chosen as his own.”
The commissioning and sending out came in the setting of a Vespers service, led jointly by Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby, at the Church of Saint Gregory on the Caelian Hill in Rome.
The service was one of the highlights of an ecumenical summit organised by Iarccum to mark the 50th anniversary of the meeting between Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey in 1966 – the first such public meeting between a Pope and an Archbishop of Canterbury since the Reformation. The summit, which began at the weekend in Canterbury and is continuing in the Vatican, will also mark the 50th anniversary of the Anglican Centre in Rome.
The ”twinning” links in the Diocese in Europe mean that in Belgium, Bishop Robert is paired with the Roman Catholic Bishop of Antwerp, Johan Bonny
In France, Bishop David will work with the Catholic Bishop of Toulouse, Robert Le Gall