Title ID 5188Collection ID722
Title[Interview with Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Fisher]
CollectionH.K Lewenhak
Genre/TypeProfessionalTelevision companyNon-fictionActuality/Factual
ThemeWorking Life
KeywordsBroadcasting Coronations Religious Activities Men
RegionalGreater London
NationalEngland United Kingdom
ProductionH. K. Lewenhak
DirectorH. K. Lewenhak
Commissioning bodyLondon Link, Australian Broadcasting Corporation
ParticipantsAdrian Deamer (London editor Melbourne Herald Cable Service)
Format16mm Black & White Sound
Duration26 min. 23 sec.
Copyright & AccessCopyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details


Three reporters for Australian newspapers interview Dr. Fisher, The Archbishop of Canterbury, in London. He is questioned on matters of unity in the Church, his position on Catholicism, divorce, the Church being "out of touch" with the people, the Royal Family and political influence and the control of the Anglican Church in Australia by the Church in England.


A photograph of the Houses of Parliament opens the film. Adrian Deamer (London editor Melbourne Herald Cable Service), Noel Hawken (Melbourne Herald) and Neil Kelly (Sydney Telegraph) interview Dr. Fisher, The Archbishop of Canterbury, in London's Cranville Studios.

Deamer asks if the Archbishop's recent visit to Rome has brought about unity in the Church. He replies that it has set the process in motion. "I threw a rope across, and there the rope is. And from that, bridge builders can over the course of time, build a bridge," he says. "What do you foresee unity as meaning eventually?," asks Hawken. The Archbishop explains that independent churches like the Orthodox churches in Greece, Cyprus, Russia and Bulgaria are held together in strong fellowship; "one day all the churches will be autonomous and held together in that way." Union involves two stages, long before sitting down and drawing up a concordant "you need unity, the desire for union, to behave towards one another as Christians."

Kelly asks what the Archbishop meant when he said he was both a Catholic and Protestant during a debate at the House of Commons. He explains that Catholicism and Protestantism are both "crammed full of history." The Church fell into two halves after the Reformation and the Church of England has "a foot in both camps." "We are still Catholic but on the other hand we are reformed in that we claim the freedom to make up our own minds about things." The totalitarianism of the Church of Rome is rejected; "The Church must have elements of Catholicism and Protestantism, in order to correct itself." "We have learnt how to live together because we drew our membership from both wings." "What is keeping the Church apart," asks Deamer. The Archbishop explains that differences of doctrine are the issue. When we behave as good neighbours with mannered behaviour, the doctrine "will take a new colour." When pressed about his criticism of the Catholic Church the Archbishop explains he has never made an attack on Catholicism. "I have been trying to get a better relationship so we can behave like friends," he says. The Pope wants to be on good terms with other Churches, they share a pursuit of Christian unity. He explains that the "Free Churches" welcome the new initiatives to rid the Church of hostility.

When asked of his personal experience during his sixteen years in office the Archbishop gives the Coronation of Elizabeth II as the most momentous experience, "the single event that surpassed everything else." He is accused of acting in an emotional way at the ceremony. In response he says, "I'm good at trying to do things as well as possible in public, at any moment I can be very moved. I have learnt to suppress those emotions when I am performing in public." The Archbishop is questioned on his relationship to the Royal family and politicians. He explains that the Queen is above politics and that generally speaking, politicians react against anything he says because it's usually critical "because it should be happening better, otherwise there would be no point in speaking." He says he is not under any pressure from government or political quarters. "In the old days, it meant the Church did what the state told it to do... the relationship now isn't a political one at all. Rarely does parliament interfere."

When questioned on the matter of Princess Margaret's divorce, he insists that his stance on marriage after divorce is derived from the teachings of the Lord; "marriage is a life long job... anything else is second rate." When it is proposed that the Church is out of date with the people on matters of divorce, the Archbishop explains that the Church says what it thinks its duty is to say; "We try to bear our witness in the most sympathetic and loving way." It is explained to the interviewee that what people mean when they describe the Church as "out of touch" is that the people are adopting other practices but the Church is not adapting to them. The Archbishop explains that it is not the Church that is rigid, it is trying to present the received teaching from the Lord while being careful not to drive people away necessarily. He says that younger people are the easiest to attract and most keen to learn because they have open minds; "Their elders have ceased to learn anything, they are frightened of ideas." When he is told that the Dean of St. Pauls in Melbourne has opened a coffee shop to attract people he responds, "I'm not the person to do that, I can't judge because I'm of an older generation. I simply say, 'judge by the results.'"

When questioned on Sunday Observance he replies, "some of the laws are ridiculous because they're out of date... (it) is terribly difficult thing. He describes his childhood, reading and going for walks but "This busy world says that's nonsense!" "It's part of the feverish character of the world we're living in." People need to seek an oasis of quiet to grow spiritually, "otherwise they will be stunted all the time." Sundays should be spent in the country, listening to cows mooing and birds singing, he says. He is malignant of conurbation, "too many people living in too small a space." He explains he is a keen supporter of commonwealth immigration to Australia. An interviewer questions why more Australians do not hold senior positions in the Church. The Archbishop explains that "we are glad to send them, but we wish you to have your own." He says the Anglican Church in England does not control the Anglican Church in Australia. He uses the example of new provinces in Africa who govern themselves. Now Australia is on the point of getting a new constitution, which will break those cobwebs "that continue to bind us." They are committed to a voluntary relationship with a "harmony of purpose." The interviewers thank the Archbishop for coming to see them.