The Anglican Bishop of Waikato has been handpicked by the global leader of the Anglican Communion to be its ambassador to the Pope in Rome.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has appointed Hamilton-based Bishop David Moxon as the Anglican Communion's ambassador to Vatican City.
Bishop Moxon's appointment was announced yesterday, making him one of the few people in the world to have the ears of the worldwide leaders of the Anglican and Catholic churches, the two biggest Christian denominations in the world.
The Anglican Church split from Rome in 1534 and has about 85 million members, while the Catholic Church is 1.2 billion people.
The role of ambassador - a position held for between three and five years - was created after the Second World War.
Bishop Moxon replaces Australian clergyman David Richardson.
"It's really to encourage co-operation and liaison between Anglican and Catholics," Bishop Moxon, who had been Bishop of Waikato for 20 years, said.
Bishop Moxon was appointed by Dr Williams after spending three years as the chairman of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC III). He will concentrate on areas where the church can work together, such as in the areas of aid and development around the world.
Together, he said, the two churches could operate as a flotilla.
"The role means I'm talking with the Pope every now and then, but it certainly would not be on a weekly or monthly basis. Most of the work is with Vatican officials, a group called the Pontificate Council, for promoting Christian unity."
Bishop Moxon will step down from the role as Bishop of Waikato in April and move to Rome in May. By the time he starts his new job, however, Dr Williams will have been succeeded by Justin Welby, the current bishop of Durham.
"It would never have occurred to me (that I would become ambassador to the Vatican) when I first came into ministry 32 years ago," he said.
Bishop Moxon's wife, Tureiti Moxon, will remain in New Zealand as managing director of Te Kohao Health Ltd at Kirikiriroa Marae in Hamilton.
Bishop Moxon led the Diocese of Wai kato and Taranaki with Bishop Philip Richardson who will continue in the role.
- © Fairfax NZ News