The Archbishop of Canterbury’s visit to our chaplaincies in Turkey and Romania

“It was a real pleasure, as always, to spend time with the chaplaincies and their congregations in the Diocese in Europe” 

The Archbishop of Canterbury visited our chaplaincies in Turkey and Romania this week, as part of a three-cities-trip. He visited Istanbul, Bucharest and Chisinau in Moldova.  In all three cities Archbishop Welby held meetings with Orthodox, Christian and Jewish faith leaders to discuss issues of common interest, particularly the impact of the war in Ukraine on these three countries within the region. 

These visits are always greatly welcomed as they build upon and strengthen the ecumenical work of the diocese across Europe. 

In Istanbul the Archbishop was warmly welcomed by Canon Ian Sherwood, chaplain, to preach at Christ Church Anglican Church (The Crimean Memorial Church) Fr James Buxton, chaplain in Izmir and the Area Dean, supporting the ministry of the Archdeacon was also present. After the service the Archbishop stayed to chat to our congregation. He welcomed the work of the church with refugees, and called upon the church to be a light in the world.  

The Archbishop’s visit to Istanbul has helped to strengthen many Ecumenical friendships which exist within our diocese.  

During his time in Istanbul, the Archbishop and his delegation were hosted at a dinner by the Apostolic Vicar of Istanbul (Archbishop Massimiliano Palinuro) and to a reception following the Pope’s tenth anniversary Mass, hosted by Arcbhishop Marek Solczynski, the Apostolic Nuncio to Turkiye.   

He also attended a memorial service for Metropolitan John Zizioulas; met with HAH Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople New Rome & Ecumenical Patriarch and attended a Celebration Mass for the 10th anniversary of Pope Francis’ election.  
As the second part of his trip, the Archbishop of Canterbury visited Bucharest, and joined the congregation of the Church of the Resurrection.  

In Bucharest, Fr Nevsky Everett, chaplain, said: ‘It was an immense joy to welcome Archbishop Justin to Romania, following a visit to the Ecumenical Patriarch in Istanbul. We are very grateful to HE Andrew Noble and the British Embassy for organising such a rich programme, and for being such kind and generous hosts.  

One of the primary focuses of Archbishop Justin’s visit was Ukraine. His first engagement in Romania was at RomExpo, where he met State Secretary Raed Arafat and representatives of humanitarian and civil organisations working with Ukrainian refugees. Archbishop Justin was also able to spend some time alone with some refugees to hear about their experiences of fleeing Ukraine and arriving in Romania.  

The Church of England has a long history of friendship with the Romanian Orthodox Church, and it was wonderful to see that friendship renewed. Archbishop Justin met with Patriarch Daniel, who thanked him for the Church of England’s support of Romanian Orthodox parishes in the UK. We also met with Metropolitan Nifon of Targoviste, a member of the executive committee of the World Council of Churches, and we were warmly received by Archbishop Calinic at Curtea de Arges to visit the historic monastery and the royal tombs. Archbishop Justin also had some time with the Papal Nuncio, and with members of the historic Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Augsburg Confession in Romania. 

And, of course, no visit to Bucharest would be complete without coming to the Church of the Resurrection! The choir were in excellent voice at Evening Prayer, and Archbishop Justin preached movingly on the ways that Scripture speaks to us. The congregation was able to meet with the Archbishop afterwards, and he brought a lot of joy and laughter.  

It was the first official visit of an Archbishop of Canterbury since 1993, so it was an historic occasion. It was a visit that called us to reflect on the place of the church in our contemporary world, and to engage in the problems that our society faces. Archbishop Justin’s visit was encouraging, strengthening and heartening – and I hope that we will continue to feel its impact in the weeks and months to come.