Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Spring Is For... Rowan?

He'll just have missed the Pope -- with whom he's forged some pretty warm ties over their two recent "summits" -- but even so, the archbishop of Canterbury is bringing his hopes for an Anglican Communion healing to (of all places) Lourdes, where a historic three-day pilgrimage begins Monday:
[Rowan Williams] will be part of a historic pilgrimage of ten Church of England bishops, 60 Anglican priests and 400 Anglican lay worshippers.

The event shows how church leaders are committed to closer ties. Dr Williams will preach, take part in a number of Catholic celebrations and pray at a grotto where St Bernadette said the Virgin appeared to her 150 years ago.

His visit, at the personal invitation of the Catholic Bishop of Tarbes and Lourdes, Jacques Perrier, indicates that Anglican and Catholic leaders remain committed to closer relations in spite of differences over the ordination of women and sexually-active gay men as priests and bishops.

Father Graeme Rowlands, a north London Anglican vicar and the organiser of the pilgrimage, said Dr Williams was making the visit of his own volition.

'It was his decision to go on pilgrimage to Lourdes and nobody else’s,' said Father Rowlands.

'It was his devotion to Our Lady in the end really that persuaded him to go. He has a very genuine devotion to Our Lady.'...

Six million pilgrims, many of them ill, disabled and dying, make pilgrimages to Lourdes each year. Eight million visitors are expected this year.
But until now, one of 'em has never been a primate of All England.

As some'll no doubt remember, it's not the first time the current Cantuar'll be leading his own on "Poped" ground. In May, Williams presided at Vespers in Rome's Basilica of S. Maria Sopra Minerva to install his new delegate in the Eternal City, and in late 2006 celebrated an Anglican Eucharist at S. Sabina, the Dominican mother-church best known as the traditional venue for the pontiff's observance of Ash Wednesday.