Q: Can you tell us anything about that private meeting with the Pope, whether you discussed any of those difficult issues that the Pope declined to talk about in public?
A: Those are issues that get discussed routinely in our formal dialogue and I think it's a shame if we spend our private time just talking about difficulties. So we talked a bit about Christians in the Holy Land with an eye on the forthcoming Synod. We talked a bit about some of the great areas of conflict where we are trying to work together. We talked about how the Anglican and Roman Catholic hierarchies have worked together in Sudan, the witness and peacemaking and how urgent it is to strengthen that. And we spoke about the subject which both of us have mentioned today, the Holy Father has talked about it a great deal, that is: how to engage in a rational dialogue with secularism.
Q: Yes, you both talk about the need for ever closer cooperation and witness to our secular world yet the public perception remains of deep divisions and contrasting viewpoints between the two churches – it must be a great worry to you?
A: It is. And conflict always makes a better headline story than harmony. But as many people have said to me just this evening, when you think of how utterly unimaginable this would have been 40 or 50 years ago, even as the 2nd Vatican Council was beginning, clearly something has happened- and part of that something is a return to the roots, something about which the Pope and I again spoke about privately (some of our theological enthusiasms in common there), the heritage of the Fathers, and again praying together at the Shrine of Edward the Confessor, looking back to that age when the boundaries were not what they are now between Christians – all of that I think is part of a very positive picture. And I think it's a pity the world only sees the quarrels. It's as if that tiny 6 inches about the surface is what matters and the immense weight of routine prayer and understanding and love and friendship just goes unnoticed.
BB NOTE: I do agree with the Archbishop here. I think that major steps have been taken to draw orthodox Anglicans and the Roman Catholics closer together. I've seen this at the local level and now we see it on the international level, I do think he's absolutely right. The recent dust-ups about traditionalists in the Church of England - and to a certain extent, the plight of women bishops in the Church of England - have failed to achieve a fracture between orthodox Anglicans and Roman Catholics. It is an extraordinary time and Rowan Williams is right to marvel that even as Vatican II was put into place, very few could have imagined the formation of such strong ties of friendship.
Read the entire interview transcript here.