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An unexpected blessing

ROME (SE): As Pope Francis stepped forward to impart the final blessing at a ceremony to mark the conclusion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity on January 25 at St. Paul’s Outside the Walls in Rome, Italy, he called Anglican Archbishop David Moxon and the representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch, Archbishop Gennadios, to his side to impart the blessing with him.

“It was incredibly moving to be part of what I think was an unprecedented invitation, which said far more than the words which were actually recited,” Archbishop Moxon was quoted by the Anglican Communion News Service as saying.

Archbishop Moxon is the representative of the archbishop Canterbury, Archbishop Justin Welby, to the Holy See. He said that while he does not want to read too much into the invitation, it was the talk of the evening.

He described it as a poignant, unforgettable and evocative sign of the essential unity of baptism and the desire to share the blessings of God.

He quoted the pope as saying at the prayer service, “I invite all Catholic brothers and sisters to forgive if they, today or in the past, have been offended by other Christians. We cannot cancel out what has happened, but we do not want to let the weight of past faults continue to contaminate our relationships.”

Archbishop Moxon noted, “This immediately challenges Christians who are not Roman Catholics to respond in the same way, asking for forgiveness for the wrongs we have done and the wounds we have inflicted on the body of Christ.”

The New Zealand-born archbishop concluded by saying, “This mutual confession automatically brings forth a sense of forgiveness, grace and hope and we can be closer than we were before, because of this.”

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