Former Archbishop of the Indian Ocean appointed Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome

17 May 2019

The Bishop of Mauritius, the Most Revd Ian Ernest, has been appointed Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Personal Representative to the Holy See. Archbishop Ian, who served as Primate of the Anglican Church of the Indian Ocean for 11 years until 2017, will take up his new role towards the end of 2019. One of his last duties as Bishop of Mauritius will be to welcome Pope Francis to the island when he makes an official visit in September.

“I feel deeply honoured and humbled by this appointment. It is a calling from God which I accept with all humility”, Archbishop Ian said. “I will try my best to honour this calling and to honour the office. I look forward to working in close collaboration with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Board of Governors of the Anglican Centre in Rome.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, commented: “I am delighted that Archbishop Ian has accepted the call to become the Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome and my Personal Representative to the Holy See. His appointment comes at an exciting time in the growing and important relationship between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church.

“The Anglican Centre in Rome was established just over 50 years ago at the time of the first public meeting between a Pope and an Archbishop of Canterbury since the Reformation. 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.

“Archbishop Ian will bring to his new role a wealth of experience in practical ecumenical engagement; and significant connections throughout the Anglican Communion. I look forward to working with him as we continue to develop our relationship with the Catholic Church.”

The Chair of the Board of Governors – the trustees of the Anglican Centre in Rome – the Rt Revd Michael Burrows, Bishop of Cashel, Ferns and Ossory in the Church of Ireland, welcomed Archbishop Ian’s appointment, saying: “He brings with him to Rome great enthusiasm for the task, a warm personality and vast experience of his own province and the wider Anglican Communion as a former Archbishop of the Indian Ocean.

“He will be very well suited to the work of an ‘ambassador’ for the whole Communion in Rome, and to strengthening the role of the ACR as a place of hospitality and study. His track record in practical ecumenism is highly impressive, and the Governors look forward to working with him in the coming years and cherishing his great vision and energy”.

Archbishop Ian has a long history of ecumenism, dating back to his childhood, and described his appointment as Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome as being “quite a journey for me”.

His father was the first Anglican priest to preach in a Catholic Church in Mauritius. He attended Roman Catholic primary and secondary schools and, when he was studying for ordination, attended some courses at a Roman Catholic seminary.

“We had an ecumenical involvement when it came to our studies because we had some Roman Catholic lecturers for the Old and New Testaments working with us at St Paul’s Theological College”, he said. “When I became the bishop 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.”

While Bishop of Mauritius, Archbishop Ian has been involved in the leadership of Rodrigues College, a joint Anglican-Catholic school formed in 1973 by the merger of St Louis Roman Catholic School and St Barnabas Anglican School. Today it is considered to be one of the best schools on the island of Rodrigues.

He has also worked closely with Cardinal Maurice Piat, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Port Louis. Together, the two have written joint statements on environmental and social issues; and have delivered joint Christmas messages for Mauritian television.

When Archbishop Ian’s mandate as Archbishop and Primate of the Indian Ocean was renewed in 2012, he invited a Roman Catholic priest to preach the sermon.

He has been involved in ecumenical work with other Christian churches too and has worked with other Christian leaders in Mauritius to establish an ecumenical college for the training of laity and clergy.

In 2008 he was awarded the St Augustine Cross for services to the Anglican Communion by the then-Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Dr Rowan Williams; and in March this year, he was made Grand Commander of the Order of the Star and Key of the Indian Ocean (GCSK) – the highest rank or distinction of Mauritius’ civilian honours – by the country’s Acting President, Barlen Vyapoory.

He is a member of the Design Group for the 2020 Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops.

The following photos are provided to media organisations for editorial-use-only.
Please click the thumb-nail for print-resolution versions.
Photo Credits: The Anglican Diocese of Mauritius

Thumb - Archbishop Ian Ernest - A

Archbishop Ian Ernest, Bishop of Mauritius


Archbishop Ian Ernest - B

Archbishop Ian Ernest, Bishop of Mauritius


Thumb - Archbishop Ian Ernest and wife Kamla - C

Archbishop Ian Ernest, Bishop of Mauritius, with his wife Kamla


Thumb - Archbishop Ian Ernest - D

Archbishop Ian Ernest, Bishop of Mauritius