CEO, The Renewal Programme & Chaplain to HM The Queen, The Revd Canon Ann Easter on the inaugral events of the Archbisop of Canterbury, Justin Welby and Pope Francis

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- Credit: Archant

I was very interested to see that, in their recent inaugural events, both Justin Welby, the new Archbishop of Canterbury, and Pope Francis, leader of the world’s Roman Catholics, deliberately simplified and de-mystified the proceedings. The Archbishop did not, as all his predecessors have, invite people to an ‘Enthronement’ – though he was in fact enthroned (by a woman Archdeacon, another first!) into his special seat at Canterbury Cathedral – but to a service to celebrate the beginning of a new ministry and chapter in the life of the Anglican Church. And Pope Francis was almost chatty when he addressed the crowds from his balcony in St Mark’s Square! Then, when it came to the annual commemoration of Jesus’s last Supper, and he was required to wash the feet of twelve people just as Jesus did, Pope Francis went to a local prison and washed the feet of twelve prisoners, two of whom were women and some of whom were Muslim. In past years, Popes have washed the feet of twelve Roman Catholic priests!

I was delighted to see these new brooms sweeping through some of the archaic and exclusive customs of the Church and I hope that the Archbishop and the Pope’s efforts to get closer to the people and see life as it really is, continue. Because, of course, this is as it should be. Jesus mixed with all sorts of people, poor and rich, old and young, familiar and stranger, women and men, and always treated them with love and care – not that he wasn’t challenging sometimes, Jesus was quick to see what really mattered to each of them – but each and everyone who met him was changed for the better.

They say that a society can be judged by the way it treats its disadvantaged people, so how do we score? Are we fair and just, even with people we don’t like? Are we loving and patient, even when folk are slow or irritating? Are we open and honest, even when we haven’t been doing the best we might?

I think we’re trying hard……..!

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