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IN BRIEF


Warning on ecumenism Pope Benedict XVI has concluded the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity by warning against an agree-to-disagree form of ecumenism. “The search for the restora- tion of unity among divided Christians cannot be reduced to a recognition of mutual differences and the attainment of a peaceful coexistence,” the Pope said dur- ing Vespers on Tuesday at Roman Basilica of St Paul’s Outside the Walls. He said it was a “moral imperative” for all Christians to work for full communion in faith, the sacraments and ministry. Speaking on Monday to a group of German Lutherans, Pope Benedict also warned that differences between Catholics and Protestants on moral issues could not “be silenced or neglected so as not to endanger the ecu- menical consensus attained up to now”.


Italian head for Russian Church An Italian archbishop, Mgr Luigi Pezzi, has been elected chairman of Russia’s Catholic Bishops’ Conference, despite past accusations of an over-accommodating stance towards the Government and the Orthodox Church. The 50-year-old Archbishop of Moscow, who succeeded Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz in October 2007, was chosen at a plenary last week in Irkutsk. Last November, Mgr Pezzi protested over a decision by author- ities in Kaliningrad to give the local Russian Orthodox diocese ownership of a Soviet-confiscated Catholic church. But some senior Catholics criticised the arch- bishop’s closing of the Russian Church’s award-winning Svet Evangeli weekly in December 2007.


Canadian ordinariate plan The Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins has invited Anglicans from across Canada to meet on 24-26 March and “engage in prayer, fellowship and dialogue as we move forward with this important initia- tive” of forming an ordinariate. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith named Archbishop Collins as the Canadian episcopal delegate for dealing with Canadian Anglicans interested in joining the Catholic Church. Anglican Catholic Church of Canada Bishop Peter Wilkinson said he is “excited by the con- ference” and eager to get to work on creating the ordinariate.


Historic Christian centre reopens A centre for Byzantine studies, which was relocated from Istanbul to Bucharest after the foundation of the Turkish state in 1923 under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, has reopened in Romania 63 years after being closed down by the communist regime.


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Letter from Rome


event of the Courtyard of the Gentiles Foundation will take place in March in Paris. Pope Benedict XVI called for the establishment of the permanent structure during his pre-Christmas address to the Roman Curia in 2009. “Today, in addition to interreligious dialogue, there should be a dialogue with those to whom religion is something foreign, to whom God is unknown and who nevertheless do not want to be left merely Godless, but rather to draw near to him, albeit as the Unknown,” the Pope said of the initiative. He added that it would be part of the new evangelisation. Fr Laurent Mazas FSJ (Frères de Saint-Jean), an official at the Vatican’s culture council, is directing the project. The 24-25 March launch will include lectures on “Religion, Enlightenment and Common Reason” and will be held at Unesco headquarters, the Sorbonne and the French Institute. A roundtable discussion will be held at the Collège des Bernardins. The two-day gathering will conclude in front of the Cathedral of Notre Dame with an evening celebration of music, art, theatre. Cardinal Ravasi has touted the project as an opportunity for “dialogue and friendship” between believers and non-believers, but it seems somewhat geared to Catholicism. This past Sunday the cardinal took possession of his titular church –once the titular church of the Blessed John Henry Newman.


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here’s a “Christian way” of using Facebook and Twitter and it comes down to being “honest and open, responsible and respectful of others”. That, in a soundbite, is Pope Benedict XVI’s message for this year’s World Day of Social Communications, celebrated each 24 January. Of course, the Vatican is not very keen on soundbites. It usually issues lengthy written texts – even when the message is specifically one on digital communications. This year’s papal message was “presented” to journalists on Monday by Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and four other Vatican officials (three priests and a layman). The message is titled, “Truth, Proclamation and Authenticity of Life in the Digital Age”. By Vatican standards it’s brief – only


1,470 words. But that’s probably still about 1,400 words too many for those used to Twitter. The way the papal message was produced and presented showed again that the Vatican is more at home in the world of Johannes Gutenberg (pioneer of book printing) than that of Mark Zuckerberg


ardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, has announced that the inaugural


(twenty-first-century inventor of the social network Facebook). Archbishop Celli’s power-point presentation merely displayed quotes from the document. There were no photos, no video, no music and no animation. “Who is this message for? And who do they think will read it?” said one of my colleagues, shaking her head, as we left the press hall. Clearly most people who inhabit


cyberspace are of a much younger generation than those who work at the Vatican. It’s doubtful that the papal message will reach any of them, at least in its present form. Next year the pontifical council should consider getting some professionals to do a 30-second video on the Pope’s message … and then air it on MTV.


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mbassador Francis Campbell will be flying out of Rome’s Fiumicino Airport on Monday and returning


to the UK, bringing to a close more than five very impressive and energetic years as the personal representative of Her Majesty the Queen to His Holiness the Pope. Britain’s first Catholic ambassador to the Holy See since the Reformation, who will be a mere 41 in April, will soon be heading to Pakistan to serve as a deputy high commissioner. He has served as the British Government’s man at the Vatican since November 2005 and the Foreign Office is having a difficult time trying to replace him. As The Tablet reported on 8 January, Whitehall is sending the former British Ambassador to Cambodia and Macedonia, George Edgar, to be the temporary chargé d’affaires until Campbell’s successor is chosen. Whoever finally gets the job will have big shoes to fill. When the then-35-year-old Campbell arrived in Rome to take up his new post, among items at the top of his agenda was to find a new residence. The FCO had decided, for cost-cutting reasons, to surrender its longstanding lease on the spacious Villa Drusiana near the Old Appian Way and so Mr Campbell was left house-hunting. He found a penthouse apartment near the President of Italy’s Quirinal Palace, which became, with its roof terrace’s stunning views of St Peter’s, a favourite place of many cardinals and visiting British clerics and politicians who dined with the ambassador.


Ambassador Campbell will be greatly missed by the diplomatic community, English-speaking residents in Rome and officials at the Vatican. He has worked tirelessly to forge closer ties between Britain and the Holy See, between Catholics and Anglicans and between the peoples of Ireland and the United Kingdom. Robert Mickens


29 January 2011 | THE TABLET | 31


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