Faith in Politics interns visit Rome

Interns in Rome with Sally Axworthy
Interns in Rome with Sally Axworthy

In the days before Palm Sunday, the Faith in Politics interns of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW) visited Rome, as each year, to help them understand how the Church and the World are served by the offices which assist the Pope there, known as the Roman Curia.

The interns are graduates from all over Britain, who work with Catholic Members of Parliament or Catholic Agencies, are studying Catholic Social Teaching, the first part of a Masters Degree currently with St Mary’s University, Twickenham, while living together at More House, the West London University Chaplaincy. The programme helps them to reflect and act on how Catholics can engage in public life to serve the Common Good and given the current work of o former interns, has been extraordinarily effective. Over the sixteen years of the programme, their Spiritual Accompaniment has been offered by Jesuits, and this year by the Clapham Community of Ruth Holgate, Fr Jim Conway SJ and Fr Dushan Croos SJ (who accompanied them to Rome).

During their visit, the interns met and interviewed Vatican officials at the Dicasteries for Integral Human Development, for Laity, Family and Youth, at Vatican Radio and from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, as well as visiting the inside of the Pope’s official residence, the Vatican Palace, seeing particularly the rooms around the Sistine Chapel in which Cardinals gather and pray before electing the Pope.  

On the first evening they were welcomed at the Residence of the British Ambassador to the Holy See, Sally Axworthy, near the Quirinal Palace, for a reception with many of those involved in the relationship between the United Kingdom and the Holy See.

The British Ambassador tweeted “Enjoyed meeting the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of England and Wales interns, who are working with MPs, CAFOD, and studying Catholic Social Teaching. We hope they enjoy the rest of their programme in Rome.”

The Italian trip also included elements of pilgrimage, as the group visited the tombs of St Peter, Pope St John XXIII, Philip Neri, St Ignatius, Fr Arrupe, and on a visit to Assisi, of St Francis of Assisi and St Clare.

The unplanned highlight of the visit was seeing the Pope fairly close up as he toured St Peter’s Square after the prayer of the Angelus and the Palm Sunday Mass. “The interns and I were all quite surprised at just how moved they were to see the Holy Father blessing, smiling, and engaging with people, even after the rigours of the Palm Sunday Mass,” remembers Fr Dushan. "These few days have deeply inspired the group in their faith and as well as their desire and opportunity to work with those who are serving the needs of the Universal Church from Rome."