Since many are wondering (whispering), why not have a poll on the question? But first, here’s a little whisper:
This Friday morning brings significant breaking news on the ecumenical front — six days after Rowan Williams’ latest meeting with B16 (above), Lambeth Palace has announced that the 61 year-old theologian will retire as archbishop of Canterbury at year’s end, to become Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge.
The first non-Englishman to occupy the chair of St Augustine since the Reformation, Williams leaves the symbolic headship of the world’s 70 million Anglicans after a difficult decade-long tenure marked by infighting between his Communion’s branches on issues of teaching and identity, headlined by splits over the ordination of women and, in particular, openly-gay clergy into the church’s episcopal leadership.
A keen student of the Benedictine spiritual tradition who (under the tutelage of a monk) reportedly considered becoming Catholic as a young man, despite the internal hurdles of his turn at the helm, the 104th Archbishop departs his post with Vatican-Lambeth ties quite possibly at their warmest since Pope Paul VI famously took the ring off his finger to give to Archbishop Michael Ramsey at the close of Vatican II…
An especially warm rapport has developed between Williams — a world-class theologian in his own right — and Benedict XVI, most recently evidenced by the Pope’s invitation for the archbishop to address this October’s Synod of Bishops dedicated to the pontiff’s top pastoral priority, the New Evangelization. While some commentators aimed to interpret 2009′s Anglicanorum coetibus – Benedict’s response to requests from Anglican groups to enter Catholic communion as a unit — as Rome’s “parking a tank on the lawn of Lambeth Palace,” the bond made for perhaps the emotional high-point of the following year’s papal State Visit to Britain as the successors of Peter and Augustine presided together at Vespers in Westminster Abbey, marking a Pope’s first pilgrimage to the iconic London church dedicated to St Peter.
So lets have it then. What do you think?