2013-03-21 Vatican RadioThe 105th Archbishop of Canterbury was on Thursday scheduled be enthroned in his Cathedral. Archbishop Justin Welby succeeds Rowan Williams, who led the Church of England from 2002-2012. The Holy See delegation to the event will be led by the head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Kurt Koch. Archbishop Welby has a deep interest in Catholic social teaching, and sees it as a means for the Catholic Church and Anglican Communion to work together.
He told Vatican Radio one of the first tasks is to make it better known.
“You lot have kept Catholic Social Teaching far too well hidden,” Archbishop Welby said.
“It is one of the greatest treasures that the Churches globally have to offer, and even many Catholics don’t know much about it. Starting with Rerum Novarum in the late 19th Century and going through to the remarkable development under John Paul II and Benedict XVI, with a lot in between, particularly around Vatican II. I think in those you see a comprehensively thought through structure of approach to the way we order society in a way that reflects Christian teaching, Christian values: the love, the integrity of Jesus Christ. I think it is a huge treasure for the whole Church to learn from, and I think it will lead us into much closer cooperation.”
Welby also has a deep appreciation for Catholic spiritual traditions. He has been an Oblate of the Benedictine Order (Anglican branch) for several years.
“I read a bit of the rule each day. I try and follow the patterns that I’m meant to follow,” he said. “I just find Benedict so remorselessly full of common sense and insight and challenge.”
He and and his wife are also involved with Chemin Neuf, a French Catholic community rooted in in the Charismatic movement and espousing an Ignatian spirituality.
“I have been doing some work with them around theories of reconciliation,” Welby said. “I have been greatly influenced by their Ignatian spirituality, as has my wife.”
When asked by Vatican Radio if this would give him a lot to talk about with the Jesuit Pope Francis, the new leader of the Anglican Communion went further.
“A lot to learn from Francis as the first Jesuit Pope,” he emphasized. “Yes. Absolutely.”
Listen to the full interview by Philippa Hitchen with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby: