Archbishop Ian Ernest was formally commissioned by the Archbishop of Canterbury as the new director of Anglicanism’s center for dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church, in a service held November 13 at Rome’s principal Jesuit church, the Chiesa di Sant Ignazio di Loyola. Ernest, 65, was formerly Bishop of Mauritius and primate of the Anglican Province of the Indian Ocean. In addition to overseeing the ministry of the Anglican Centre, Ernest will serve as the Archbishop of Canterbury’s personal representative to the Holy See. He succeeds Archbishop Bernard Natahotori, who stepped down in December 2018 in response to allegations of sexual misconduct.
Ernest, a native of Mauritius, has extensive experience in ecumenical ministry, especially with the Roman Catholic Church. He has helped to lead a joint Anglican-Roman Catholic school, and issued a series of pastoral letters jointly with his Roman Catholic counterpart in Mauritius, Cardinal Maurice Piat. One of his final duties as diocesan bishop was to welcome Pope Francis during his visit to the island last September. He was formally introduced to Pope Francis by Archbishop Welby before the installation service. Welby and Pope Francis also developed a plan at the meeting to jointly visit South Sudan early next year.
The Anglican Centre was founded in 1966 during a wave of ecumenical cooperation encouraged by the Second Vatican Council. Housed in the historic Palazzo Doria-Pamphlij, it describes itself as a sign of “the living reality of our Communion’s commitment to the full visible unity of the Church, working collaboratively with all Christians for justice and peace in the world.” The Centre hosts conferences and courses throughout the year. It also recently led the creation of a multi-faith anti-slavery network, and received a Lampedusa Cross from the Holy See earlier this year in recognition of this work.
Bishop John Bauerschmidt, who serves as a trustee of the American Friends of the Anglican Center in Rome, shared in the installation service in Rome. “The Anglican Centre in Rome has a unique role to play in continuing ecumenical relations with the largest Christian church, at its historic heart,” he said. “There is great excitement and hope as Archbishop Ernest begins his new ministry.”
Ernest and Bauerschmidt both serve on the Living Church Foundation, and Bauerschmidt is president of its board of directors.