Shortly before he resigned as the ninety-ninth archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher achieved an ecclesiastical scoop. He visited Jerusalem, was acclaimed there with rare unanimity by the Holy City’s religious competitors, and went on to Istanbul, where he had a friendly meeting with the ecumenical patriarch. He returned by way of Rome, where Pope John welcomed him with open arms.

That was good going in pre-Vatican II days (1960), and not surprisingly a large press contingent awaited his return at London Airport. The inevitable question was put: “What is the most vivid memory of your tour?” The primate replied thoughtfully, “Of a camel which looked at me with most ineffable scorn.”

Fisher had been at Canterbury since the end of the war, and the years of reconstruction had offered opportunities for his logical mind and great administrative gifts. An extroverted ex-headmaster who still believed in discipline, he was nevertheless approachable—and he would listen. He ordained privately a friend of mine whose non-evangelical bishop had refused to do so. I retain two handwritten letters Fisher sent me in the course of correspondence on a different matter, in which his Christian charity is rather more noticeable than mine.

When Michael Ramsey succeeded him in 1961, the change could scarcely have been greater. Ramsey was a scholar and a preacher, a little remote as a person, more than a little preoccupied as a chairman unless a subject had caught his interest.

His thirteen-year primacy was to be unusually eventful. There was Honest to God (1963); his advocacy of force against Rhodesia if necessary (1965); the first official Anglican visit to the pope since the Reformation (1966); his preaching in the Roman Catholic Westminster Cathedral ...

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