Anglican Centre in Rome

Anglican ambassador to the Vatican clarifies views on Jesus' resurrection

Thu 17 Jan 2019
By Alex Williams

The Archbishop of Canterbury's representative in Vatican City has declared "Christ is risen!" after his views on the physical resurrection of Jesus attracted scrutiny.

Dr John Shepherd, the interim director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, took steps to clarify his stance after a video emerged of him seeming to question whether the resurrection was a "physical event" eleven years ago.

During the Easter 2008 sermon, he said: "The resurrection of Jesus ought not to be seen in physical terms, but as a new spiritual reality.


"It is important for Christians to be set free from the idea that the resurrection was an extraordinary physical event which restored to life Jesus' original earthly body."

In a new statement, Shepherd said: "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."


Dr John Shepherd was appointed following the departure of Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi - who resigned shortly before Christmas last year over alleged sexual misconduct.

The governors of the Anglican Centre in Rome are currently considering a permanent replacement for Archbishop Bernard.

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