Monsignor Mark Langham, who died on January 15, 2021, was a great friend of the Anglican Centre in Rome, especially during the years he served in Rome at the Pontifical Council for the Promoting of Christian Unity (PCPU) where he was responsible for relations with Anglicans and Methodists and also for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

He was first ordained priest in the Roman Catholic Church in 1990 after reading classics and history at Cambridge and then spent four years at Westminster Cathedral, first as chaplain and latterly as praecentor, before moving to parish work in the Diocese of Westminster. In 2001 he returned to the cathedral, serving as administrator until 2008 when he was personally recommended by the late Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor to work in the Vatican and joined the PCPU

Mons Mark returned to Britain in 2013 and to his alma mater of Cambridge where he served as Catholic chaplain at Fisher House, the chaplaincy at Cambridge for students. He became a highly popular figure with Catholic academics as well, including the late Professor Nicholas Lash and church historian Eamon Duffy, and thoroughly involved in the spiritual, theological and ecumenical life of the university.  He also continued to be engaged with the work of the Anglican Centre, contributing last year to a series of webinars on ARCIC III. A version of his talk is included in the latest edition of Centro.

He died at Sts John and Elizabeth Hospice, St John’s Wood, after suffering from cancer for many years.

Below, The Very Revd Canon David Richardson, who was Director of the Anglican Centre and the representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Holy See from 2008-2013, recalls his friend, Mark Langham and their ecumenical dialogue:


“This is not sorrow, this is work: I build a cairn of words over a silent man . . .” Thus, did John Streeter Manifold begin his tribute to his friend John Learmonth in one of the great Australian war poems. In quoting Manifold’s words, I am not denying my sorrow over the death, aged just sixty, of my friend Mark Langham. These few words are an attempt at something else, a vignette perhaps of a friendship. I heard most recently from Mark on January 15, a letter that ended: “It hardly needs rehearsing that our friendship has been one of the highlights of my life - and something I still treasure. Please keep me in your prayers, to help me to prepare to make a good end.”

Prior to his formal role as an official of the PCPCU at the Vatican, where he was responsible for relations with Anglicans and Methodists and for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Mark attended the Lambeth Conference in 2008. The conference was for both of us a steep learning curve. After it was over Mark explained that one thing that puzzled him about Anglicanism – and the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury – was why the Archbishop didn’t simply tell the other bishops what to do, somewhat as the Pope would. I responded that if he did so, the other bishops would almost certainly tell the Archbishop what to do.

As Mark came to his role in Rome from being Administrator of Westminster Cathedral and I to mine after 20 years as a cathedral dean in Australia, we already had much in common. 

Hugely competent administratively and theologically, Mark was also astute pastorally; he connected easily with all sorts of people. This was helped in Rome by his skills as a linguist: I was in awe of the ease with which he communicated as fluently with Cardinals as he did with tradespeople. When I complimented him on his mastery of Italian, he would smile embarrassedly and say that he was making it up as he went along. He was immensely modest and generous to those of us less gifted.

In a lecture at Clare College, Cambridge, in 2018 - subsequently published in Centro - Mark said: “Pope Francis has said that ‘ecumenism cannot be done in a laboratory’. It must engage all our lives as Christians; as well as studying together, we must pray together, work together, play together”. For five years Mark and I tried to be faithful to every aspect of that calling.

In October 2009 Mark rang to ask if Lambeth Palace had briefed me on a new initiative that was to be announced the next week. I did not know what he was talking about so he asked if he might come round to see me. So it was that I heard about Anglicanorum Coetibus, an initiative of Pope Benedict XVI to welcome disaffected Anglicans into full communion with the Holy See while allowing them to keep a modified Anglican liturgy. There was a lot of talk in those days about ‘Anglican patrimony’. A cartoon in The Tablet showed a cleric visiting a parishioner being offered a glass of gin by the lady of the house. “More patrimony, Father?” she asked.

Despite the occasional cartoon to ‘lift the spirits’, those were tense days in Anglican – Roman Catholic relationships and the fact that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, was about to pay an official visit to Rome added a certain intensity to the behind the scenes work that Mark and I had to do.

Much later in our time together, at Mark’s initiative, we co-taught a course in Aspects of Catholicism in Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism at the Angelicum, the Dominican’s university in Rome.

Mark was an excellent cook and generous host. He invited my wife and me to dinner one New Year’s Eve, where a highlight was Mark’s nativity scene: not just a simple crib set so much as a lovingly built model of Bethlehem containing seemingly hundreds of pieces he had been collecting for years. Living in Italy, buying pieces from Naples, had allowed his artistic and creative imagination free reign.

Mark’s decision to write a doctoral thesis on the Caroline Divines, a group of theologians and scholars, who lived during the reigns of the two Kings Charles, was a sign, if more were needed, that Mark was no longer as naïve about Anglicanism as his earlier comment about the Lambeth Conference might have implied. True members of the Reformation in England, the Carolines nonetheless stressed the Catholic and apostolic marks of the English Church. Nor were they simply academic theologians. Their scholarship informed their prayer life, their pastoral duties – many of them, like Lancelot Andrewes and George Herbert, were exemplary pastors – and their spirituality. They studied in order to know how to live better, more closely in union with their Lord.

Since the Anglican Centre library is a rich resource for such an undertaking, we came to see even more of Mark. After a long afternoon in which he would make copious notes on a laptop or in his beautiful copperplate handwriting, Mark and I would occasionally do some debriefing over a sustaining gin and tonic. “A little patrimony, Father?” I might ask. His doctoral project became a passion, the result being a book later published (2017) under the title, The Caroline Divines and the Church of Rome: A Contribution to Current Ecumenical Dialogue. Scholarship, prayer and pastoral care were certainly cornerstones of Mark’s own life. 

One morning, Mark rang to ask if I could join him for lunch in a little restaurant that he liked. In the course of the meal, he confided that he had been diagnosed with cancer. I could pass the news to my wife, but he asked me otherwise to keep it to myself and my prayers. When I sent him birthday greetings late last November for his sixtieth birthday, he replied confiding the dread news that his illness had worsened.


Mark, dear friend, go in peace.