Spence makes Roman pilgrimage

Published January 1, 2002

Bishop Ralph Spence of Niagara made an ecumenical pilgrimage to the Vatican in November, accompanied by Bishop Michael Pryse of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and Roman Catholic bishops Anthony Tonnos and Matthew Ustrzycki.

It was an extension of the meetings and retreats the four men have held in Hamilton, Ont. over the past three years, Bishop Spence said in an interview.

“I thought it would be important for us to share something special, so you had two of the great churches of the Reformation going to Rome with our Roman Catholic counterparts. There’s a lot of symbolism there,” he said.

The four bishops met twice with Pope John Paul II, at an audience and at Mass at his private chapel. “The Pope knows Hamilton. He visited one of the Polish churches when he was a cardinal and he talked of next year’s Toronto youth gathering,” said Bishop Spence. (In July, the pontiff is scheduled to visit Toronto for an international gathering of Catholic young people.)

The two Protestant bishops did not take communion, since Catholics do not share the eucharist with members of other denominations, but they were “treated with a lot of respect,” said Bishop Spence.


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