(ACNS) The Archbishop of Canterbury on the Royal Wedding

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Speaking in a short film produced by Lambeth Palace, the Archbishop of Canterbury talks about the sense of hopefulness and generosity which lie at the heart of marriage, and what this also tells us about the ‘mystery’ and ‘delight’ which can be found in this life-time commitment. Dr Williams, who will be conducting the marriage ceremony at Westminster Abbey on Friday 29th, also describes the sense of privilege he feels about his own role in the royal wedding:

“Any priest or minister conducting a wedding is bound to feel a huge sense of privilege. You’re invited into some intimate places in people’s lives. You’re invited to take part in a very significant moment, a moment of hope; a moment of affirmation about people’s present and future. And I’ve felt very privileged to be part of this event for those reasons. Here are young people sending a message of hopefulness, sending a message of generosity across the world. And it’s my privilege to be able to bless that in the name of God, to witness it in the name of God”.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury Anglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General

27 Comments
Posted April 27, 2011 at 6:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Jackson wrote:

This is such an underwhelming case for marriage. Please-Archbishop-do not be fearful of either explaining the faith in Christ that is central to this act, or withdraw the event from the church.

April 27, 10:59 am | [comment link]
2. Catholic Mom wrote:

Yeah, watching two people who have been shacking up together for the last 10 years decide that their future careers require them to get married in a massive circus-like proceeding is such an inspiring act of Christian hopefulness.  Kind of like blessing Charles and Camilla’s wedding, but with much more money spent on it.

April 27, 1:58 pm | [comment link]
3. Catholic Mom wrote:

But I don’t doubt that he feels extremely privileged to be there.  Not the other way around.

April 27, 1:59 pm | [comment link]
4. sophy0075 wrote:

Dear Jackson and Catholic Mom,

What you say is true, but it’s better than them continuing to shack up without benefit of the ceremony. I pray that their marriage and their love for each other will survive the scrutiny/attacks of the press - unlike the disaster that was the marriage of the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana. But then, I pray that every marriage will survive Satan’s onslaughts.

April 27, 6:57 pm | [comment link]
5. Teatime2 wrote:

Sheesh, a giant MEOW, @ 2,3. Ah yes, a pretty much arranged, virginal wedding worked so much better for the prince’s parents.  For the record, they haven’t been “shacked up for 10 years.” They barely met 10 years ago. Sharing a house with other students at university means they lived with other students in rented accommodation. And they were simply friends for a while.

They were sensible to wait as long as they did and, yes, he was sensible to insist that she try on the family and lifestyle so that she was fully aware of what she’d be taking on.

As for the pomp and circumstance, Prince Harry has stated that his brother wishes the wedding could be smaller and quieter. But history and tradition are part of the burden of being royal. Anyone who thinks being born royal isn’t a burden is under the influence of Disney.

Prince William is a member of the military and hopes to make a career of it. Catherine is a military wife. They reside in a five-room farmhouse in Wales with no domestic help by choice. They are reportedly going to enjoy as much “normalcy” for as long as possible.

I don’t see how anyone can go bitter and not wish this lovely couple all of the best. I think they have a much better chance of “happily ever after” than most because they started as friends and allowed themselves time to mature and grow. William has become a fine young man and Catherine seems so supportive and down-to-Earth. I’m happy for them.

April 27, 8:42 pm | [comment link]
6. MichaelA wrote:

Like cats, Teatime2?!

April 27, 11:49 pm | [comment link]
7. TACit wrote:

Royalty certainly is a burden.  Being the same age as the Abp. of Canterbury, I remember Diana and Charles’ wedding very well and what younger people probably don’t recognize is the surge of hope it brought to the English-speaking world, in that it bode well for a future monarch.  Until then Charles was not looking like reproducing, which is one of the burdens royalty has (ER I excepted, I know).  And despite their almost odd-couple pairing in 1981 the possibility of an attractive and stable heir was suddenly most real. 
I’m a little less enthralled with William and Catherine but unquestionably there are hopes pinned on them throughout at least the English-speaking world as well as anywhere stable monarchies still survive.  It would surprise me if Abp. Williams said anything different than he has here in an interview.  It will be more interesting to hear what Chartres preaches.  But reading about the preparations is rather like listening to one’s little sister planning her prom date!  I hope it’s lovely and they honor their vows and they make a lot of people happy all their lives.  There may never be another wedding like that in 1981, and no, it didn’t lead to a lifetime of happiness so obviously that’s not the whole show - but my word, it was memorably a pageant of utterly transcendent English beauty.  Hopefully Kate will have lots of children, as Princess Mary of Denmark, also a commoner (from Tasmania) is, since they can well afford to!

April 28, 5:46 am | [comment link]
8. Catholic Mom wrote:

Um…all the people who know them say that initially the lived in a group house as part of a group and then as a “couple” sleeping in the same room.  I’m not sure what the point of arguing about it is.  They and their parents admit it openly.  Yes, it’s good they’re getting married and not continuing to live together.  But is this actually better than the “virginal” marriage you mock?  Is this the model of Christian marriage that gives the good Archbishop such “hopefulness”??  Sure, I wish them well.  I wish all marriages well.  I don’t even mind the hoopla—if the English are into it and that’s what they want, go for it.    But the unbridled enthusiasm shown by the Church of England and its leaders for this wedding shows they they have turned yet another corner in embracing the secular culture.  You try out different partners.  You live together for years to see how you feel about the “lifestyle”—maybe break up and try a couple more partners to make sure you’re not missing out on something better—then you (maybe) get married.

Let me pose a question.  Suppose that Ms. Middleton had gotten pregnant while living with her royal boyfriend.  Would we have had a royal shotgun wedding?  Or a royal abortion?  Or a royal out-of-wedlock child?

April 28, 9:08 am | [comment link]
9. TACit wrote:

I agree, Catholic Mom, about the standards of personal conduct that William and Kate have shown - not really an example I would want my son to follow.  But take heart, in this church service which will be watched purportedly by about 2 billion or so people, much of the wonderful sacred music is by Catholic composers! 
For some reason English Catholics seem mainly very supportive about this wedding, if you look at the Catholic Herald for example, for the continuity of the realm it promises.  I think you have to be there to get it.

April 28, 10:47 am | [comment link]
10. Pageantmaster ن [Repent Justin Welby] wrote:

For some reason English Catholics seem mainly very supportive about this wedding, if you look at the Catholic Herald for example, for the continuity of the realm it promises.  I think you have to be there to get it.

By and large, Catholics are fully integrated with us here - serve in the Armed Forces and government, contributing to all aspects of the civic state.  The Earl Marshall of England is the premier Duke of England, the Catholic Duke of Norfolk.

I don’t come across the chippiness from Catholics in England that I do on US blogs.

The music program for tomorrow can be seen here and the service is being live-streamed on Youtube here.  I understand that it is being streamed in the US on ABC News and on Fox News

April 28, 12:17 pm | [comment link]
11. Catholic Mom wrote:

Hmm…must find out what “chippiness” is and stock up on some.  Sounds like it would go great with sour cream and onion dip. smile

April 28, 12:28 pm | [comment link]
12. Teatime2 wrote:

CM,
Virginal marriages are very rare indeed and have been thusly since the very beginning. Let’s dispense with the double-standard—by virginal in this context, I mean BOTH parties, not just the woman.

Your Holy Roman Church, when it controlled English piety, looked away just as much if not more than what you’re accusing the C of E of doing. Your Church agreed that royalty and nobility could put aside their wives (often sending them to convents) if they became tiresome and annulments could be bought from Rome fairly easily. Henry VIII just had the misfortune of trying for one at a bad political time for the Church, when the pope was being held prisoner and was also afraid of setting off the Spanish, which an annulment involving a Spanish princess was sure to do.

As for modern times and modern “royalty,” I have two words—the Kennedys. They’ve always been able to marry, divorce, and remarry at will with the RCC’s ceremonial blessing. Others have, as well.

The answer to your question is that I surely don’t know. I don’t make a habit of commenting or predicting on hypothetical reproductive outcomes of couples. People the world over and for all ages have chosen any of the above. The only difference for English royalty is that their illegitimate children in previous centuries had a particular last name denoting their lineage—Fitzroy. The French and Spanish royalty probably had something similar.

April 28, 3:10 pm | [comment link]
13. Catholic Mom wrote:

Well, if the Church has always been a lackey of the nobility in England then that’s definitely a tradition to celebrate and continue!

My point about the royal illegitimate offspring was just this—there haven’t been any Fitzroys for a long time and there will probably never be any again because abortion will prevent that awkward situation. 

Re:  The Kennedys—not that I defend their marital escapades but in terms of the Church, how do you explain Jacqueline Kennedy’s excommunication during the years that she was married to Onassis??

April 28, 4:20 pm | [comment link]
14. MichaelA wrote:

Teatime2 wrote:

“Let’s dispense with the double-standard—by virginal in this context, I mean BOTH parties, not just the woman.”

Meow!

Catholic Mom wrote:

“But is this actually better than the “virginal” marriage you mock?”

I didn’t read Teatime2 as “mocking” anything. And why on earth are you trying to do some sort of moral comparison? You will be allocating points next - 10 points for claimed virginity, 20 points for actual virginity, 15 points for a white dress, 8 points for not having lived together before, 10 points if you are not marrying an Australian, etc.

I just look at this as I would for my own children: whatever I may disapprove of in the past, I am happy now that they are getting married and apparently determined to make a go of it.

“Well, if the Church has always been a lackey of the nobility in England then that’s definitely a tradition to celebrate and continue!”

Not really, although the Church in the Middle Ages did happily buy and sell annulments to nobility everywhere, not just in England! And the annulments were effectively divorces in many cases.

“Let me pose a question.  Suppose that Ms. Middleton had gotten pregnant while living with her royal boyfriend.  Would we have had a royal shotgun wedding?  Or a royal abortion?  Or a royal out-of-wedlock child?”

I suppose that would depend on the couple, and particularly on the woman. I am pleasantly surprised at how many of today’s young people are personally against abortion. But what is the point of discussing such a hypothetical?

April 28, 6:36 pm | [comment link]
15. Teatime2 wrote:

MichaelA—Spot on. Oh, and Woof! wink

CM,
Goodness, do you assume that all childless couples have aborted? How on Earth do you know that the royals did?

And, sorry, but the illegitimate children didn’t necessarily present an “awkward” situation. Many were actually given land and titles and their mothers had advantageous marriages arranged. Henry Fitzroy was loved by Henry VIII and he considered putting him in the succession; unfortunately, Henry Fitzroy succumbed to illness.

I would suggest that instead of making breathtaking claims about the royals, you read the history of the monarchs. You must realize that the C of E history is quite tame in the royal regard compared to what went on in Catholic Britain, Henry VIII notwithstanding.

(Jackie Kennedy Onassis was excommunicated? That’s really rich, considering what she endured being married to a womanizing Kennedy.)

April 28, 7:05 pm | [comment link]
16. Bookworm(God keep Snarkster) wrote:

I have met Archbishop Carey, with whom I was most impressed.  I had never met Archbishop Runcie, but he absolutely got the sermon right at Charles/Diana’s wedding—one can hear the whole thing here

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvl1-u3Hang

early in the clip, just after the Scripture reading. 

It’s one of the most beautiful descriptions of marriage I have ever heard, especially this

“The poet Edwin Muir has said that ‘a good marriage is a life where each asks from each what each most wants to give and each awakens in each what else would never be.’”

And one cannot fulfill such when one enters the union with another woman first in one’s heart.  Despite her(like all of us) lack of perfection, the same cannot be said of the Princess of Wales, who entered the union in good, honest faith. No wonder Charles looks like somebody shot his dog throughout the whole homily. 

Not to mention, in either Camilla’s or the Princess’s case, one does not solve the problem of a philandering husband by injecting one’s own third party into one’s marriage. 

It’s my prayer that Miss Middleton and Prince William, who seem like super people(especially her, no offense to him) can avoid all the above and fulfill the quote by Edwin Muir.  Live that into reality, and you will be fine.  It starts with a union first based in mutual love and respect, which they appear to have. 

And best wishes to all Brits for a lovely holiday weekend.  God bless the couple and get them through the(albeit gorgeous) hoopla—such scrutiny and fanfare is not easy to deal with.  It makes me want to say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the occasional, judicious use of Xanax.  grin  Big prayers…

April 28, 7:06 pm | [comment link]
17. Pageantmaster ن [Repent Justin Welby] wrote:

#16 Thank you Bookworm
There is a huge party going on here in London.  And there are enormous numbers of Americans here joining in, along with what appears to be the rest of the world.

Best party ever?  We will have to see, but people seem to be having lots of fun.  It augurs well for the Olympics next year.  Its what we do best when the economy is dire; shrug and have a party.

April 28, 7:36 pm | [comment link]
18. MichaelA wrote:

Its having a pretty big impact down under as well. The Australia British Chamber of Commerce bash looks the best, but there are plenty of less formal ones as well.

April 28, 8:15 pm | [comment link]
19. Catholic Mom wrote:

The “mocking” referred to a previous comment (not the “lets dispense with the double standard comment”) comparing the present “pre-tested” therefore presumably solid marriage with the “virginal” (“bad”) marriage that didn’t last.

You still haven’t gotten the point about the abortion.  Of course not all couples who have sex get pregnant or have pregnancies that end in abortions (although plenty do).  Most use contraception successfully.  And of course I know that historically royal bastards were well treated.  Royal blood was considered to be so valuable that it was an incredible advantage no matter how come by—especially if the mother was of relatively high birth.    But all that has changed with the advent of highly effective contraception in which couples assume (rightly or wrongly) that sex without children is easily arranged.  It is now assumed that there will NOT be any royal bastards, and indeed do you know of any in the last, say 100 years???  In the current culture, having an out-of-wedlock child calling the future king of England “daddy” would create a huge scandal in the way that it didn’t in the past.  Therefore, although everyone seems to think that pre-marital sex on the part of Kate and William was no big deal—everybody does it now, that’s what contraception is for— the fact is that, in their particular situation, they were taking a huge risk.  A risk that could have resulted in either a major PR disaster (if still possible) for the monarchy (an out-of-wedlock child or a shotgun marriage) or a huge temptation to avoid said disaster with an abortion.  I’m assuming that she never did get pregnant.  That was very good luck.  But still astoundingly risky irresponsible behavior that went on for years.  So I would say the major way in which this wedding exemplifies “Christian hopefulness” is that Christians can hope that if their kids are shacking up for 10 years that they’ll get married before they get pregnant.

April 28, 8:24 pm | [comment link]
20. TACit wrote:

Exactly, Pageantmaster.  Now if only the dour Puritans of America could do the same, shrug and have a party as their/our $ continues its descent!  I’m not sure if this is good or bad - but clearly the Wedding is intended to boost advertising revenue as well as all the attendant souvenir sales and other tourist business, and flow-ons.  And I doubt there are many hotels/pubs here in WA missing the opportunity to put the event on their big screens and sell more pints - of Pimm’s, I heard on the radio this morning…..
The Independent article above this one says it right, the event is robustly patriotic, and that is in contrast to being as Christian as it could be.  Everyone British can remain content in their belief that God is in fact, most likely an Englishman, thus making the world a better place.

April 28, 8:27 pm | [comment link]
21. TACit wrote:

Personally I think you got that mostly right, Catholic Mom.  In fact, though, Prince William has been in the military a lot of that time and the couple were not, I think, continuously co-habiting - just to be technically accurate.  But your points about the risks of premarital sex are important ones, that are steadily being erased from the consciousness and consciences of moderns, with terrible consequences for the common person as well.  This is one reason that the current Pope’s writings and teachings on conscience are so uplifting and refreshing and will form the core for the counterculture that rescues Western Judeo-Christian civilization.  It would have more helpful to see the royal pair in a theoretically Christian monarchy be an example of that kind of courageous living.

April 28, 8:39 pm | [comment link]
22. Bookworm(God keep Snarkster) wrote:

Pageantmaster, “Shrug and have a party” is not a bad philosophy!!  Again, all prayers and best wishes; I think the “fever” is surely catching over here, too, even if it’s not our national holiday.  Tomorrow(or, for you, later today, by now) I don’t think there will be anything else on the telly!! 

If you run into two sixtyish people from Boston who are well-loaded on champagne, they’re probably our friends.  grin  I would have loved to have gone; that was not possible but I can live vicariously through others.  Yay!!

April 28, 10:37 pm | [comment link]
23. MichaelA wrote:

Catholic Mum,

I have to say that after reading your #19, I still do not understand what your real point is. Are you suggesting that they should not get married? Further, are you suggesting that no couple that has cohabited should get married? I am yet to be convinced that there is any argument based on scripture or Christian tradition that would support that.

“It is now assumed that there will NOT be any royal bastards”

By whom? I am sorry, but I have no idea where you are getting this from.

“and indeed do you know of any in the last, say 100 years???”

Probably quite a few (including one obvious recent one), but does anyone really care?

“In the current culture, having an out-of-wedlock child calling the future king of England “daddy” would create a huge scandal in the way that it didn’t in the past.”

Why do you assume this? I would have thought it would be the other way around.

“Therefore, although everyone seems to think that pre-marital sex on the part of Kate and William was no big deal…” 

Pagans might, I don’t. But I also don’t think that is a reason why they should not get married. They seem to have at least as much chance (or better) of making a successful marriage than Williams’ parents had.

“the fact is that, in their particular situation, they were taking a huge risk.  A risk that could have resulted in either a major PR disaster (if still possible) for the monarchy (an out-of-wedlock child or a shotgun marriage) or a huge temptation to avoid said disaster with an abortion.”

I don’t know why you are obsessed with the “risk of a PR disaster”. I have no idea what they would have done if Waity Katy fell pregnant but I expect that she probably would have had the baby. That is what many do these days. I certainly hope so. As for whether this would have been a PR disaster for the royal family, I strongly doubt it. But this is all speculation on your part anyway.

“But still astoundingly risky irresponsible behavior that went on for years.”

Of course. Yes, we all agree its wrong. But now they are doing the right thing. What is your point?

“So I would say the major way in which this wedding exemplifies “Christian hopefulness” is that Christians can hope that if their kids are shacking up for 10 years that they’ll get married before they get pregnant.”

If you are troubled by Rowan Williams’ bleatings, then sure, I agree with you. The man is pathetic, and no spiritual leader. But I don’t see how that is a reason why this couple should not get married. Being a Royal Wedding, those of us who are subjects of the Crown will celebrate it. We have been doing this for thousands of years.

Finally, I also disagree about your “mocking” point. I don’t see how Teatime’s post can be construed that way. She did make the point that “virginal” marriages are not necessarily any more successful than the other kind, which is correct. My belief that virginal marriages are the norm derives from God’s revealed truth – it has nothing to do with whether they always work.

April 29, 5:05 am | [comment link]
24. MichaelA wrote:

TACit wrote:

“This is one reason that the current Pope’s writings and teachings on conscience are so uplifting and refreshing and will form the core for the counterculture that rescues Western Judeo-Christian civilization.”

Thankfully, the Pope is one of tens of thousands of Christian leaders who uphold God’s standards to mankind, and along with all of them he will indeed form a part of the core that rescues our civilisation.

“It would have more helpful to see the royal pair in a theoretically Christian monarchy be an example of that kind of courageous living.”

Naturally. It would have been helpful to see many things over the years, e.g. for President Jack Kennedy to act consistently with his faith by remaining faithful to his wife (to follow on from a point made by Catholic Mom above). But the point I made above is, what should the couple do now? What is done, is done. I believe in redemption, that failure is never final (a point also made by BXVI, I believe). No doubt they have sinned in the past, as have all mankind – I will let those without sin cast the first stone. But I am happy to wish them all the best for their future marriage.

April 29, 5:06 am | [comment link]
25. MichaelA wrote:

A final quote for those so keen on English and ecclesiastical history, that brings them both together:

“Pray good people be civil, I am the Protestant whore.” [Eleanor Gwynne, 1670]

I am happy to see a wedding and I do hope the marriage works out, and that any children have a stable and blessed home. It may be that they may come to a real and saving faith in the Lord, if they are not there already. All the best to them.

April 29, 5:07 am | [comment link]
26. TACit wrote:

I think the Puritan streak in American society may make it hard for some to understand how we think.  Australia has no Puritanical streak.
Also, how surprising that anyone actually thinks of the Kennedys as real Catholics - I never have, as it was one of the tenets of my Anglo-Catholic upbringing in the Northeast US that mostly they were not authentically practising adherents even though they professed to belong.  Such people came to be known more recently as CINOs.

Anyway, it was a very nice wedding just now, and VERY British, and God is no doubt pleased.  It was quite endearing how William looked pleased with himself in several moments.

April 29, 7:35 am | [comment link]
27. Catholic Mom wrote:

[Comment deleted by Elf - now hold thy peace dear Catholic Mom]

April 29, 8:34 am | [comment link]
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