The Anglican Centre in Rome: promoting Christian Unity in a divided world
Peter Doll and Alaric Lewis explain the purpose of the Anglican Centre in Rome, a place of worship, hospitality and learning.
During his visit to the Diocese last November, at his Reflections on Reconciliation’ in the Cathedral, Archbishop Justin reminded us that the work of ecumenical reconciliation is not an optional extra for Christians, but an absolute imperative in response to Our Lord’s prayer “that they may all be one … so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:21).
This will be a matter both of our engagement with theological differences, as in the work of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, but it will also involve our working together as fellow Christians in the Lord’s service. The covenant between the Shrines at Walsingham is an important witness to us all.
The focus for the Anglican Communion’s encounter with the Roman Catholic Church is at the Anglican Centre in Rome, a place of worship, hospitality and learning. Alaric Lewis, recently arrived in the Diocese as Priest-in-charge of St George Colegate and St George Tombland, Norwich, has been involved in its work. He writes:
Each Tuesday afternoon at 12.30pm, a group gathers to celebrate Anglican Holy Communion in the heart of Rome, at the St Augustine of Canterbury Chapel in the Anglican Centre, housed in the thousand-room Palazzo Doria Pamphilj.
The service is open to everyone, and both residents of Rome and visitors passing through come, with all being invited to stay on for prosecco and lunch afterwards. The atmosphere is relaxed and convivial and provides a good balance to the extravagance of the palazzo.
Mark Beatty, a Lutheran visitor to the Centre who happened upon it while visiting the famed Galleria Doria Pamphilj housed below, found the experience moving: “I was overwhelmed by the sheer grandeur at first,” he said, “but celebrating and sharing food and conversation with other Christians from all over the world tempered that, and I was left with an overwhelming sense of family – a diverse family, but a family nonetheless.”
This attention to hospitality, diversity and sense of family has been present from the Centre’s inception, due in large part to the Doria Pamphilj family who also calls the palazzo home. Instrumental in its establishment, Princess Orietta Doria Pamphilj and her husband Frank had a desire to help facilitate a coming together of people and ideas, a new idea of family which was groundbreaking in the religious environment of the 1960s.
“My father was Anglican and converted to Roman Catholicism before he met my mother, and though they were both devout Catholics they never forgot the diversity he came from,” says Prince Jonathan Doria Pamphilj, Frank and Orietta’s son. “Our notion of family has always been connected to that.”
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