THE trustees of the Anglican Centre in Rome have appointed the Bishop of Mauritius, the Most Revd Ian Ernest, as its new director.
Archbishop Ernest, who served as Primate of the Anglican Church of the Indian Ocean for 11 years until 2017, will act as the Archbishop of Canterbury’s representative to the Vatican. He takes over from the Centre’s interim director, the Very Revd Dr John Shepherd, a former Dean of St George’s Cathedral, Perth, in Western Australia. Dr Shepherd was appointed in January, weeks after his predecessor, Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi, resigned after an allegation of sexual misconduct was made (News, 4 January).
Archbishop Ernest said this week that he was “deeply honoured and humbled” by his appointment. The director of the Centre liaises between the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury, and works with the Anglican Communion and Vatican bodies on joint projects.
He is already a member of the Archbishop’s Task Group, set up after the 2016 Primates’ Meeting to “restore relationships, rebuild mutual trust, heal the legacy of hurt, and explore deep differences” in the Anglican Communion.
Archbishop Welby said: “His appointment comes at an exciting time in the growing and important relationship between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church. . .
“Over the past 50 years, the relationship between my predecessors and successive Popes, and the connections between people involved in official ecumenical dialogues, has deepened that relationship. It is bearing much fruit — as the joint Anglican, Catholic, and Presbyterian retreat at the Vatican last month for the political leaders in South Sudan demonstrates” (News, 12 April).
Archbishop Ernest attended RC primary and secondary schools, and courses at an RC seminary during his ordination training. His father was the first Anglican priest to preach in an RC church in Mauritius.
“When I became the Bishop [of Mauritius], it became quite natural to continue this journey, and I worked quite closely with the Roman Catholic Bishop in Mauritius and the Apostolic Vicar on the island of Rodrigues.”
Archbishop Ernest has also written joint statements with the RC Bishop of Port Louis, Cardinal Maurice Piat, on environmental and social issues. One of his last duties as bishop will be to welcome Pope Francis, who is due to make an official visit to the island in September.
The chair of the board of governors — the trustees of the Anglican Centre in Rome — the Rt Revd Michael Burrows, who is Bishop of Cashel, Ferns & Ossory, said that Archbishop Ernest would bring “great enthusiasm for the task, a warm personality, and vast experience of his own province and the wider Anglican Communion”.