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Church Anointing and Christian Unity

. 1 min read
The Rev. Anne Robertson, a United Methodist minister, anointed Cardinal O’Malley during an ecumenical service in Sudbury.
Photo by George Martell/Pilot New Media.
Check out the complete article by Lisa Wangsness, published in The Boston Globe!
Near the end of an ecumenical service at Sudbury United Methodist Church Sunday, Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Boston, dipped his thumb into a glass bowl of consecrated water and made the sign of the cross on the forehead of the Rev. Anne Robertson, a United Methodist minister who was about to offer the same gesture to the overflow crowd in the church hall.

And then O’Malley asked Robertson to do the same for him.
She stood before this prince of the Roman Catholic Church, a prelate who is considered the closest American adviser to the pope, who has declared that the church can never allow women to be priests.
She traced a cross on his forehead and said the ritual words, a reaffirmation of baptism from the United Methodist hymnal: “Remember your baptism and be thankful.”
Robertson said she was so moved that she could hardly speak for hours afterward.
“I’ve been in so many places where I’ve been excluded in so many ways because I’m a woman in ministry,” she said in a phone interview this week. “It wasn’t a sacrament, and I’m sure Cardinal O’Malley would express the same beliefs as Pope Francis, that they don’t believe the ordination of women is appropriate. He wasn’t saying any of that.
“He was saying what the whole service was about, that if you go back to our baptism, we are all Christians. And in that moment with him, we were one.”