Reports of the Anglican leader Rowan Williams’ liturgical celebration on Sunday in the Dominican Church of Santa Sabina in Rome seem to raise a number of issues. How can it be that an Anglican clergyman – with access to his own Anglican church building in Rome – can so publicly use a Catholic altar dressed in a chasuble and carrying a crosier? And what of the reportedly extraordinary participation of Catholic curial officials – “Canadian Fr Donald Bolen, an official at the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity with responsibility for the Reformed churches, proclaimed the Gospel at the Mass after having received Archbishop Williams’ blessing”? Rowan Williams is an erudite man and surely knows the significance of this. And no doubt so too do those Catholics responsible for the celebration. But we are not in communion with Anglicans and it seems somewhat disingenuous if not scandalous so to blur the line between, a line defended over the centuries by the blood of the martyrs of England and Wales.
Whoever thought that it was a good idea for the Anglican leader to "celebrate Mass" in a Dominican Church in Rome really needs to explain it. With Anglican orders being invalid this is really a case of dress-up and play-acting and for curial officials to be involved it certainly appears quite scandalous. This is almost an "Assisi" moment, though I doubt the Pope had anything to do with it and I certainly hope it comes to his attention.
*Photo is from Catholic Press Photos of the actual event.