Former Archbishop of Canterbury acknowledges debt to Catholics

Archbishop of Canterbury acknowledges Catholics

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has acknowledged a debt to Catholics in a statement published in the Catholic Herald on Feb. 22.

Dr. Williams grew up in Wales during the 1950s where “you still couldn’t quite avoid the sense that Catholics were exotic and a bit frightening.”

He attended an Anglican parish church in his early teens, and “a new world of Christian imagination opened. It was a moderately Anglo-Catholic church where the liturgy was celebrated with unfussy dignity and care.”

Williams continued, “But the real blessing was a parish priest of extraordinary gifts – a man with a profound and informed enthusiasm for theology, poetry and drama, whose sermons I still recall as models of what preaching should be, and whose pastoral generosity was limitless.”

Williams’ interest in the roots of Catholic spirituality stirred during his mid-teens.  A visit by Franciscans “was perhaps the first time I thought about the religious life, and whether my exploration of vocation ought to take stock of this.”

He attended Cambridge University where he wrestled with questions. “Was there a clear call to the religious life, and if so did that entail becoming a Roman Catholic?”

“Looking back now, what comes most clearly into focus is that the Roman Catholics with whom I discussed this never exerted the least pressure. I think of them as setting out to help me be a better Christian rather than to secure a convert,” writes Williams.

Fr Joseph Warrilow became Williams’ spiritual director for many years “up to and beyond my ordination in the Church of England, and my debt to him is beyond calculation.”

“The Anglican I am today is who he is because of those uncomfortable years of exploration and because of the sensitivity of the Catholic guides who so generously accompanied, encouraged, warned and inspired,” Williams finished.


Catholic Herald


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