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The breakaway Anglican bishop who forged a close friendship with Pope Francis and was due to join the Pope at a meeting in Italy on Monday has died in hospital after his motorcycle was in collision with a car near his home in the south-west of England.
Tony Palmer, who became a pioneer in talks with Pope Francis on behalf of the charismatic Evangelical movement, was due to be in Caserta with another Evangelical, Revd Giovanni Traettino of the Evangelical Church of Reconciliation. British-born Palmer died in hospital following hours of surgery.
He moved with his family to South Africa when he was 10 but had returned and was living in Trowbridge, Wiltshire with his wife Emiliana and two children when he died. He was a bishop with the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches. He got to know Francis in Argentina.
In January this year he recorded a video message of love and unity from the Pope which he took to a charismatic conference hosted by television evangelist Kenneth Copeland. In it Francis described Palmer as “my bishop brother ... We’ve known each other for years.”
Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, sent a message of condolence to his widow.
Cardinal Koch said Bishop Palmer’s meetings with Pope Francis over recent months had given "great impetus to ecumenical relations between the Catholic Church and Evangelical Christians.” His strong faith and his passion for unity, the Cardinal said, “reached a global audience of Christians with the message that there is no time to be wasted in division, the time for unity is now.”