Francis first pontiff to visit Anglican Church in Rome

Francis embraced the warm atmosphere throughout

ROME-- Pope Francis has paid a visit to All Saints Anglican Church in the heart of Rome. On Sunday afternoon the Pope presided over an evensong service with the bishop of the Anglican Diocese in Europe Robert Innes.

 Whilst at the Church the Holy Father also answered questions from the congregation. Responding to one question the Holy Father said a visit to South Sudan was being considered and planned at the moment. He also said there was also the possiblity that he would be accompanied by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

 The Pope also blessed a newly commissioned icon of Christ the Saviour.

 It’s the first time a pope has visited an Anglican church in Rome and it comes as part of All Saints’ 200th anniversary celebrations.

 The event was a resounding success and one of the parishioners, Lydia O’Kane, who had in the past worked at Vatican radio and had worshiped at All Saints for 30 years said that the Pope’s visit represented the “coming together of my work and spiritual life”.

 The Pope also took questions from the congregation such as a Nigerian seminarian who posed a question about the vitality of churches in the south of the world. It led the him to disclose that Anglican, Presbyterian and Catholic representatives from Sudan came to him inviting him and Justin Welby to come to Sudan. The goal of this potential visit would be to pray for peace and conflict resolution in the country.

 This theme of resolution and cooperation permeated the entire service. During his Sermon, the Pope spoke of the fact that, “Today, with gratitude to God, we recognize one another as we truly are: brothers and sisters in Christ, through our common baptism.  As friends and pilgrims we wish to walk the path together, to follow our Lord Jesus Christ together.”

 The speech was incredibly conciliatory as he compared the icon he had come to bless and the teachings of Jesus: “In this sacred image, as Jesus looks upon us, he seems also to call out to us, to make an appeal to us: “Are you ready to leave everything from your past for me?  Do you want to make my love known, my mercy?”

 Overall his speech was a great success as his forward looking brand of preaching seemed to really resonate with the crowd. As he concluded, the combination of Christian teaching and real world pragmatism struck a chord with the congregation: “Let us encourage one another to become ever more faithful disciples of Jesus, always more liberated from our respective prejudices from the past and ever more desirous to pray for and with others.  A good sign of this desire is the “twinning” taking place today between your parish of All Saints and All Saints Catholic parish.  May the saints of every Christian confession, fully united in the Jerusalem above, open for us here below the way to all the possible paths of a fraternal and shared Christian journey.  Where we are united in the name of Jesus, he is there (cf. Mt 18:20), and turning his merciful gaze towards us, he calls us to devote ourselves fully in the cause of unity and love.  May the face of God shine upon you, your families and this entire community!”