Elizabeth II, Queen of seven Archbishops of Canterbury and booster of ecumenism

Seven decades after her coronation, Queen Elizabeth II of England died yesterday afternoon, September 8, at Balmoral, her Scottish summer residence. A very long time in which politically he coincided with 15 Prime Ministers (the last, Liz Truss, had just arrived in Downing Street) and, religiously, as head of the Church of England, with seven Archbishops of Canterbury.



Jeffrey Fisher

The first of these was Geoffrey Fisher, in office between 1945 and 1961. Chosen as a benchmark for Anglicanism in the context of absolute catharsis, at the end of the Second World War, in which the English people had paid a high price, their population bombed and their troops exhausted in Europe, Africa and Asia, the pastor sought to bring balance, measure and peace.

She shared two of the most important moments of her life with Elizabeth: in 1947 her wedding to Philip of Edinburgh, Prince of Greece, and in 1953, the year after she was formally recognized as Queen following the death of her father, George VI , her coronation. It was a global event because it was televised internationally.

On a spiritual level, Fisher participated in another historic event in 1960 when he met Pope John XXIIIwhich is the first time (though not an official act) that representatives of the Catholic and Anglican churches have embraced each other since the triumph of the Reformation, four centuries earlier.

Michael Ramsay

Between 1961 and 1974 the 100th Archbishop of Canterbury was Michael Ramsay, who, following the gesture of his successor, in 1966 went much further and initiated the resumption of relations between the Catholic and Anglican Churches. In an act full of symbolism (Montini put his own ring on him), he went to Rome’s Basilica of St. Paul outside the walls and, after embracing Paul VI, the two signed a joint declaration in which they opted for a “formal dialogue” whose pillars were “the shared gospels and ancient traditions’.

In order to establish these friendly relations, in 1961 another barrier was already overcome when the Anglican Church appointed an official representative in Rome. Similarly, there were observers from the Church of England at the sessions of the Second Vatican Councilby which Catholicism, among other things, seeks to advance decisively on the ecumenical path.

An open-minded man who was heavily influenced by his mother, a socialist activist, he clashed with the governments of the day because of his desire for greater autonomy for religion over political power. Also, his positions on hot issues such as homosexuality, racism or immigration caused him strong criticism from the most conservative sectors.

Donald Cogan

With Donald Cogan (1974-1980) he went a step further in ecumenism and at his own consecration ceremony as Archbishop of Canterbury, in addition, for the first time to a representative of the Vatican, were members of many other faiths, from Orthodox to Quakers.

His 1975 “Call to the Nation” goes down in historywhich had wide circulation within and beyond British borders, and in which he harshly indicted the extremes of capitalism and denounced them as a society “flooded” because it focused only on the “materialistic answer” and forgot another equally necessary, such as the “spiritual” .

On a theological level, within Anglicanism, wanted to promote the ordination of women to the priesthood and, with Catholicism, to promote “full mutual communion”. It did not gain consensus on any of its proposals, but it marked a definitive path for the years to come. After seeing Paul VI in 1977, in 1978 he asked to attend the enthronement of John Paul II, becoming the first Archbishop of Canterbury to do so since the Reformation.

Robert Runcie

Robert Runcie was Archbishop of Canterbury between 1980 and 1991, as in 1981 celebrated the marriage of Diana Spencer, popularly known as Lady Di, and then Prince Charles, now King Carlos III. Politically, Runcie clashed with Margaret Thatcher’s government over its excessive liberalism, in which the Church of England adopted such a commitment to materialism that ideas of community and brotherhood disappeared.

In 1982 he was grand host to John Paul II during his visit to the United Kingdom. His gesture of kneeling before the Pope in Canterbury Cathedral caused a stir, understanding many Anglicans who prove the primacy of Rome. The reality is that Runcie, without renouncing his ecclesiastical identity, was an ardent defender of ecumenism and dreamed of a reconciled and “united” Church at the turn of the millennium.

in 1989 made a specific proposal to John Paul II: Rome to have “primacy of honor” over Anglican communities without affecting their “jurisdiction”. But Wojtyła rejected the project, believing that morally and spiritually he already had that position. Within Anglicanism, as happened with Coogan, he also failed to consolidate his commitment to ordain women.

George Carey

George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury between 1991 and 2002, was an Anglican primate who completed the aspiration of his immediate predecessors and, under his tenure the ordination of women in Anglicanism was approved. He was also tolerant of divorce (now retired, in 2005 he was a strong supporter of Prince Charles’ civil marriage to the divorced Camilla Parker-Bowles, later receiving a religious blessing) and homosexuality, albeit on a civil level, as contrary to religious union between persons of the same sex.

A staunch supporter of reconciliation with Rome, Carey was a great critic of John Paul II’s “Dominus Iesus”, understanding precisely that it contradicted ecumenical values.

After leaving the Anglican premiership, he continued to have a strong public presence, speaking out on all sorts of issues (such as euthanasia, which he now proclaims to be an advocate for), although among his many controversies the main one came when he claimed that today there is a “disunion ‘ in Anglicanism, which was taken as a criticism of his successors. Also, his alleged inaction in child abuse cases during his time as bishop is also highly controversial. In fact, he eventually resigned from all his ecclesiastical positions.

Rowan Williams

Rowan Williams sailed the ship of Anglicanism between 2002 and 2012. In fact, this Welshman by birth is the first non-Englishman to be Archbishop of Canterbury since the beginning of the Reformation.

A poet with a Marian sensibility (he made a pilgrimage to Lourdes) and a mystic, writing much about Saint Teresa of Jesus, had a close relationship with Benedict XVI (attending his enthronement Mass and days before at the funeral of John Paul II), whom he hosted in 2010 when he traveled to London. In the same year he celebrated with him in Rome the 50th anniversary of the meeting between Fischer and John XXIII, which began the ecumenical thaw.

Furthermore, during Williams’ time, Ratzinger created the structure of the Anglo-Catholic ordinariates., by which entire communities that manifest it can convert from Anglicanism to Catholicism. More than a decade later, many bishops, priests and the faithful moved from Anglicanism to recognize the primacy of the Pope.

When the Church of Ireland child abuse scandals came to light in 2010. An excited Williams complained they were facing a ‘colossal trauma’.

Justin Welby

The current Anglican Primate since 2012 is Justin Welby who he will now be in charge of the funeral of Isabel II and preside over the coronation ceremony of Carlos III. On the theological level, in his tenure, although the first major step was taken in 2008, when the possibility was approved, it was when the first women were ordained as bishops within Anglicanism.

His relations with the Catholic Church are exceptional and he maintains a great communion with Pope Francis. (weeks ago he admitted that “many Anglicans see the Pope as the father of the Western Church”), working tirelessly, for example, for peace in South Sudan. In addition, 2016 marked the great ecumenical milestone of recent years with the publication of a document “Towards a Fully Reconciled Church”, which could mark the way to final union with Rome.

Will this come with Charles III as King of England and head of the Church of England?

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