Anglican leader tells Pope, bishops: Evangelization must flow from experience

Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, head of the Church of England, told Pope Benedict XVI and the Synod of Bishops that evangelization is not a project, but the natural “overflow” of an experience of Christ and his church that transforms lives, giving them meaning and joy.

“Those who know little and care even less about the institutions and hierarchies of the church these days” nevertheless are attracted and challenged by Christians whose lives show they have been transformed by their encounter with Christ, said the leader of the Anglican Communion.

Pope Benedict invited Archbishop Williams to deliver a major address at the synod on the new evangelization on Wednesday.

Archbishop Williams recalled the Second Vatican Council, which, he said, was a sign that “the church was strong enough to ask itself some demanding questions.”

He told CNS and Vatican Radio that the Second Vatican Council was “enormously important” for other Christians as well as for Catholics.

“I was a teenager as the council began, and a practicing Anglican, and what had been a very self-contained, rather remote, exotic, fascinating, but strange body, suddenly opened up,” he said.

In many ways, he said, the synod on new evangelization is a continuation of the work of Vatican II.

“With our minds made still and ready to receive, with our self-generated fantasies about God and ourselves reduced to silence, we are at last at the point where we may begin to grow,” he said.

“The face we need to show to our world is the face of a humanity in endless growth toward love, a humanity so delighted and engaged by the glory of what we look toward that we are prepared to embark on a journey without end to find our way more deeply into it,” Archbishop Williams told the synod.

During an interview earlier with Catholic News Service and Vatican Radio, the archbishop said: “If evangelization is just rallying the troops or just trying to get people to sign up, something’s missing — what’s missing is the transformed humanity that the Gospel brings us.”

Archbishop Williams, who has announced he will retire at the end of December, also had a private meeting with Pope Benedict.



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