Bishop of Guildford meets Pope Francis

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By mattcollison | Wednesday, March 20, 2013, 12:31

THE BISHOP of Guildford has flown to Rome to meet the new Pope.

The Rt Revd Christopher Hill is one of just six Anglican delegates to be introduced to Pope Francis I today (March 20).

The audience with the new Pope follows Bishop Christopher's attendance at the inauguration of the Pope's ministry at St Peter's Basilica earlier today.

The Rt Revd Christopher Hill is in Italy representing the Anglican Communion due to his roles as Chairman of the Council for Christian Unity and as a member of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission.

On his return from Rome Bishop Christopher will travel immediately to Canterbury for the installation of Archbishop Justin Welby on Thursday (March 21).

Speaking before his departure Bishop Christopher said: "I shall be privileged to be present in Rome for the Inauguration of the ministry of Pope Francis I.

"Until the conclave, Cardinal Bergoglio was the Archbishop of one of the major cities of the developing world. His reputation for pastoral care and simplicity (following St Francis) as well as his concern for economic justice will endear him to Anglicans throughout the world, not least our own Archbishop Justin.

"Even at the announcement of his election, his 'Buona Sera' (Good evening!) to the crowds in St Peter's Square spoke of a different style of Papacy. This reinforces the inevitably different ethos which will emerge in the Papacy with Pope Benedict's radical decision to retire.

"I was also impressed by the stress on his being 'Bishop of Rome' which emerged in just those few first spontaneous words: 'You know that the duty of the conclave was to give a bishop to Rome. It seems that my brother cardinals went almost to the end of the world to get him. But here we are.'

"This is not only a pastoral stress. It is also a fundamental theological principle. The universal Primate whom Anglicans and many other Christians are beginning to recognise, is still the bishop of a local church, a bishop of the Church, not a single bishop over the Church.

"But the task before Pope Francis is immense. All Christians should pray for him. I shall be praying for him in Rome at his installation on Tuesday, as I shall be praying for Archbishop Justin, with his enormous responsibilities, at his installation in Canterbury Cathedral."

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