Fraser Nelson, editor of The Spectator, has interviewed the Archbishop of Canterbury, touching on his nearly being executed in Africa earlier in his ministry, his political remarks, his thinking on economics, and his affection for Roman Catholics.
Ten years ago, the Vatican made it easier for vicars to defect to Rome. Hundreds did so and now, by some estimates, one in ten Catholic priests is a former Anglican vicar.
I ask what he thinks about all this. ‘Who cares?’ he says. ‘I don’t mind about all that. Particularly if people go to Rome, which is such a source of inspiration. I had an email from a very old friend, an Anglican priest who has decided to go to Rome. I wrote back saying: how wonderful! As long as you are following your vocation, you are following Christ. It’s just wonderful. What we need is for people to be disciples of Jesus Christ. I don’t really care whether it’s the Church of England or Rome or the Orthodox or Pentecostals or the Lutherans or Baptists. They are faithful disciples of Christ.’
… He has a Catholic priest, Fr Nicolas Buttet, as his spiritual adviser. One of his closest friends, he says, is Vincent Nichols, the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster.
‘Cardinal Nichols and I would describe each other as very close friends. We see each other regularly, we pray together, we talk together,’ he says. ‘You know, 50 years ago, that would have been news.’ And he has Catholic friends in even higher places. ‘I go and see the Pope quite regularly. We talk about personal things,’ he adds, ‘about what it is to be a follower of Jesus Christ in today’s world. I ask him questions, and he is very helpful.’ He sounds so enthusiastic that I ask if he has ever been tempted to make the jump. ‘I think that might cause a little bit of upset,’ he laughs. ‘Even nowadays.’