A retired Anglican priest from Australia who has been chosen to lead the Anglican Centre in Rome on an interim basis has sought to rebuff criticism about his beliefs in the resurrection. The former Dean of St George’s Cathedral in Perth, Western Australia, Dr John Shepherd, was appointed as interim director last week following the resignation of Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi.
“Christ is Risen!”, Dr Shepherd said in response to widely reported criticism about his appointment. “There has been speculation in the press and on social media about my views on the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Part of this is based on a sermon I preached in 2008.
“It is my faith that Jesus rose from the dead and I have never denied the reality of the empty tomb. The risen Christ was not a ghost – he ate and could be touched – but at the same time he appeared in a locked room (John 20. 26) and vanished from sight (Luke 24.31) and he was often not immediately recognised.
“As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states (para 646) ‘In his risen body he passes from the state of death to another life beyond time and space.’ In my Easter sermon in 2010 I said ‘We believe in the resurrection of Jesus after three days, and in this faith we come to know God who raises us from despair to life, day after day.’
“This remains my faith – that Christ is risen indeed.”
The Governors of the Anglican Centre in Rome – the charity’s trustees – will review recent events before seeking a permanent replacement to Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi, who had been suspended prior to his resignation, following an allegation of sexual misconduct.