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Moderator's 'Privilege and Delight' to Meet Pope

Friday October 27 2017

The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland said it was ‘an absolute privilege and delight’ to meet and pray with the Pope yesterday.

Meeting as the Reformed churches mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the Rt Rev Dr Derek Browning and Pope Francis shared ‘prayerful concerns about the vulnerable and isolated in our world’, and discussed the improved relations between the Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Church.

Dr Browning said: “It was also important to share the forthcoming 50th anniversary of the ordination of women to the ministry of word and sacrament, and to note with gratitude the role of women and men in the Church of Scotland Diaconate.”

He presented the Pontiff with a Guild tartan scarf, Rosalind Marshall’s new book on Columba’s Iona, and one of Columba’s prayers translated into Spanish.

Pope Francis, who also received Rev Dr George Whyte, Principal Clerk to the General Assembly, Rev Dr John McPake, the Church’s Ecumenical Officer and the Moderator’s chaplain, Anne Mulligan DCS, said all Christians were brothers and sisters.

“For so long we regarded one another from afar, all too humanly, harbouring suspicion, dwelling on differences and errors, and with hearts intent on recrimination for past wrongs,” he added.

“In the spirit of the Gospel, we are now pursuing the path of humble charity that leads to overcoming division and healing wounds.

“We have begun a dialogue of communion, employing language befitting those who belong to God.”

Dr Browning said he and Pope Francis led the Scottish delegation group jointly in saying the Lord's Prayer together.

“It was one of those wonderful moments of unity which reaches across our denominations and reminds us of the centrality of our faith based on Jesus of Nazareth,” said the Moderator.

“The interview was not all seriousness and there was a lot of laughter and fun.

“The Pope noticed my socks and commented that I was certainly more colourfully dressed in my footwear.”

Dr Browning is the second Moderator of the General Assembly to visit the Pope at the Vatican in recent years, following the Very Rev Dr John Chalmers in 2015.


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