Dean highlights significance of Vatican visit

Thursday, 26th January 2017

Dean highlights significance of Vatican visit

As the Abbey Choir flies back from Rome after a week-long visit to the Vatican, the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall has underlined the ecumenical significance of the trip.

Interviewed on Vatican Radio, Dr Hall said:

The eyes of the world are on the Vatican and, to an extent, on Westminster Abbey. What we are doing is something that has a significance that ripples out.

He recalled that when the Abbey choir sang inside the Sistine Chapel in 2012, Cardinal Bertone, the former Vatican Secretary of State and he both underlined that it was a ‘really important moment in ecumenical relations’.

The Dean said the collaboration between the two choirs shows that:

We've moved from sitting opposite each walking and singing together, ensuring that the necessary theological dialogue can be set in a context of friendship, collaboration and above all...of worshipping together.

The collaboration between the two choirs grows out of recent years of deepening Anglican-Catholic relations, in particular following Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the Abbey in September 2010.

This week the Abbey Choir sang Ecumenical Vespers with the Sistine Chapel Choir, presided over by His Holiness Pope Francis, on Wednesday in the Basilica of St Paul outside the walls. The service, on the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul the Apostle, was the closing event in the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

The two choirs also sang together a free concert on Tuesday evening in the Basilica of St John Lateran.