Archbishop’s address to Synod of Bishops in Rome

Dr Rowan Williams

Dr Rowan Williams

In the first address by an Archbishop of Canterbury to the Synod of Bishops in Rome on Wednesday,  Archbishop Rowan Williams spoke about the profound connection between contemplation and the task of evangelisation, saying it “must be rooted in a profound confidence that we have a distinctive human destiny to show and share with the world”.

A contemplative approach is what helps us grow and become fully human by allowing us to open our hearts to God’s wishes:

“… contemplation is very far from being just one kind of thing that Christians do: it is the key to prayer, liturgy, art and ethics, the key to the essence of a renewed humanity that is capable of seeing the world and other subjects in the world with freedom – freedom from self-oriented, acquisitive habits and the distorted understanding that comes from them.

To put it boldly, contemplation is the only ultimate answer to the unreal and insane world that our financial systems and our advertising culture and our chaotic and unexamined emotions encourage us to inhabit. To learn contemplative practice is to learn what we need so as to live truthfully and honestly and lovingly. It is a deeply revolutionary matter.”

The Archbishop is in Rome not only for the Synod, but also to take part in celebrations marking the fiftieth anniversary of the opening sessions of the Second Vatican Council, including a Mass on Thursday at St Peter’s. In the course of his address to the bishops, chaired by Pope Benedict XVI, he said of the Council:

"today especially we cannot forget that great gathering that was the Second Vatican Council, which did so much for the health of the Church and helped the Church to recover so much of the energy needed to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ effectively in our age. For so many of my own generation, even beyond the boundaries of the Roman Catholic Church, that Council was a sign of great promise, a sign that the Church was strong enough to ask itself some demanding questions about whether its culture and structures were adequate to the task of sharing the Gospel with the complex, often rebellious, always restless mind of the modern world. ... It is not surprising that we are still, fifty years later, struggling with many of the same questions and with the implications of the Council."

The Archbishop emphasized to his Roman Catholic audience the need for evangelisation to be grounded ecumenically: "the more we keep apart from each other as Christians of different confessions”, the “less convincing” will the face of a renewed humanity seem to our contemporaries. “In a very important sense, a true enterprise of evangelisation will always be a re-evangelisation of ourselves as Christians also, a rediscovery of why our faith is different, transfiguring – a recovery of our own new

As part of his final visit to Rome Archbishop Rowan will visit once more the monastery of San Gregorio al Celio, where he celebrated Vespers with the Pope last March. It is the monastery from which Pope St Gregory the Great sent St Augustine to revive the mission of the Church in Britain and to found the See of Canterbury. His visit will inaugurate St Gregory's Chapel as a special focus for unity for Anglican and Roman Catholic pilgrims visiting the tombs of the apostles and martyrs in Rome.

To see the full text of the Archbishop's address go to:

Tags: Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop Rowan Williams, Synod of Bishops in Rome

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