Most of us know the story being played out on the international scene over the last 7 months. A story developing when two friends, one a CEEC bishop (Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches) and the other, the Pope, decided to allow their
personal friendship to spill over into Church and society. All of us who live our lives in Christ now benefit from their relationship in the Body of Christ. I am lucky enough to share a small part in that friendship.
I first met Bishop Palmer in 2008 at a Catholic Fraternity conference in Assisi, Italy. It was the first Fraternity conference that I was invited to attend representing New Creation Community, a Catholic Lay community seeking membership in the Catholic Fraternity network of communities who are in association with the Vatican. Bishop Palmer was very approachable.
We shared a desire for full communion among the Christian traditions and recognized that some Roman Catholics misunderstand the teaching of their own Church, as well as her goal for Christian Unity. Some think the only avenue to Christian unity would be what they think is a kind of "conversion" to Roman Catholicism. That often entails a misunderstanding, that other Christians would have to reject what they hold as their own patrimony and gift.
My most profound experience with Tony occurred during the opening Mass for a Catholic Fraternity Conference in 2012. I was diaconating Mass with Cardinal Ouelette, the Prefect for the Congregation of Bishops. At communion I accompanied the Cardinal to distribute communion to the congregation. The visiting ecumenical delegation was sitting on the side where I would be distributing The Host! As I approached, Bishop Palmer stood up and led the way for his fellow friends.