Thursday, 17 January 2013

Lord Oystermouth

Burke's first law: "The quality of a priest is directly proportional to the size of his dressing up box"
The recently retired Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Oystermouth, has taken up his new post as Master of Magdalene College Cambridge. A Catholic-leaning vicar friend of mine commented to me last year that the last thing a church needs is an academic in charge, though we Catholics seem to be managing just fine. Another that his farewell broadcast, Goodbye to Canterbury, showed the Rowan that could have captured the minds of a generation if his church had not stood in his way. He and the Pope seem to get on well, both being academics by trade and having put up with an unwanted call from God to lead their denominations. The Holy Father did him a big favour in setting up the Ordinariate which led many of the Anglicans who had been a thorn in his side to join the Catholic Church, taking the problem off his hands. He also personally invited Professor Williams to take part in the Synod of Bishops last October and they celebrated Vespers together in San Gregorio al Celio, the monastery from which the first mission to the Britons was launched, last March. My favourite moment of their meeting there was the Archbishop adjusting the Pope's shoulder cape for him as they walked towards the monastery church; it just seemed like an entirely natural moment in front of the cameras, when the Pope is so awkward in the media spotlight.

I wish we Catholics had more bishops like Rowan. Maybe they could be a bit noisier than he was as Archbishop, but he speaks beautifully, lovingly and it is easy to see him configuring his day to day life to his prayer life. Upon his retirement he spoke of his regrets but said that it wouldn't do to be "too cautious" in a job like his. A Cambridge college seems his natural home and hopefully will be more than simply a retirement project for him.

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