Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Rowan Williams on Vatican Radio

Read the transcript. Here's a bit of it ....



You’re also here marking the Synod and the 50th Anniversary of Vatican II. How important do you think was that Council for those outside of the Catholic Church?


It was enormously important. I was a teenager as the Council began, and an Anglican, a practising Anglican. What had been apparently a very self-contained, rather remote, exotic, fascinating, but slightly strange body, suddenly opened up. I think that was the effect that it had for me and for others.

We could see the workings. Instead of looking at an institution that was very visibly confident that it was sufficient to itself, we saw people beginning to say, “Does it have to be like this?” We saw a transparency in the Roman Catholic Church. Which of course, because it was so deeply connected with the personality of Pope John XXIII, which was a gift to all Christians, became something yes, deeply stirring.

It’s because of the Second Vatican Council, I think, that other churches began to rethink some of their own ways of doing things. It’s because of the liturgical reform there that I think liturgical reforms accelerated in other contexts. So yes, hugely important for the rest of us.


It was, of course, also a watershed moment for Ecumenism. Yet despite so much progress, the deepening of relationships, new friendships, that journey seems to be struggling today in a way that was hardly imaginable a few decades ago, especially the Anglican-Catholic dialogue. Are you in any way disappointed that there hasn’t been more in terms of tangible results for the dialogue during your time here?


Sometimes of course, yes, I feel that disappointment. But on the other hand, I look back at the ‘60s and remember, of course, we believed anything was possible in the ‘60s, whether in church, or in politics, or in international relations. There was a certain haste and a certain naivety about all that.

What abides of course, and what we can’t go back on, is the fact that we pray together in a quite different way now. In the ’50s, when I was a child, it would’ve been quite unthinkable to pray alongside Roman Catholics. Of course in those days, even saying ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ together was frowned upon.

The gain in terms of simply understanding ourselves as in some way belonging together, that’s irreversible. Of course, it would’ve been wonderful if we’d been able to take rather more steps towards something really visible, really concrete, in terms of mutual recognition.

But both the Roman Catholic and the Anglican families have changed, have developed in that period, in ways that have sometimes made that more difficult, and that’s reality. We don’t, when we change, always wait for one another. That’s a fact of our community life, I think.



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