Showing posts with label Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. Show all posts

Friday, March 16, 2012


Anglican Communion News Service:
The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has today revealed that he is to step down from his role at the end of the year.

His decision comes after 10 years in the post and after accepting the position of Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge.

The Archbishop is the Focus of Unity for the Anglican Communion. He is convener and host of the Lambeth Conference, President of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), and Chair of the Primates' meeting.
Hmm.  I thought our focus of unity was Jesus Christ.  Archbishop Rowan has not been a focus of any sort of unity for me for a very long time.  
Dr John Sentamu: "The last decade has been a challenging time for the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. Thankfully, Archbishop Rowan is a remarkable and gifted leader who has strengthened the bonds of affection."
 Lay Anglicana:
It is interesting to speculate what effect the resignation of  the Archbishop of Canterbury is likely to have on the outcome. On the one hand, people might feel that they owe him a ‘yes’ vote as evidence of their loyalty. On the other hand, they may feel that if he is not to remain in office during the period when it will need to be implemented, it is not necessary to follow his lead and they will be free to vote according to their own views.
Five diocesan synods in the Church of England will meet tomorrow and vote on the adoption of the Anglican Covenant.  Pray for wisdom for the members as they cast their votes.

St Albans

Bishop Alan Wilson on the Anglican Covenant:
I shall listen carefully to the debate in our diocese. I can only vote for the covenant if those who support it can produce something very much better than tendentious waffle spiced by emotional blackmail to explain it.

The row that produced this document has, mercifully, moved on fundamentally from the night of the long knives to the night of the long trousers. I don’t want to go back to where we were on the gay issue, and I don’t want to have a two-speed Church, and I don’t want to add to the burdens on colleagues abroad, and I don’t want to collude with childish attempts to punish the Americans for being children of the Enlightenment, if such they are. Neither do I think a healthy family should roll over in a supine way and pretend to believe in something it doesn’t just because Daddy will be upset if it doesn’t.
The whole thing is foolish, and founded on a damaging control fantasy. Best give it a decent Christian burial and move on.

Monday, March 5, 2012


Debate in the Church of England about the proposed Anglican Covenant is still going on. And this is quite a good moment to take stock of some of the issues surrounding that debate and perhaps also to remind people of some of the concerns that lie behind the proposals affecting the Covenant.

The Covenant, as it stands, is a document that was drawn up over a long period of consultation involving pretty well everybody in the Anglican Communion. The Church of England itself played a very important part in contributing to successive drafts of the Covenant, and I think we can be rightly proud of some of the contributions we have made there.

But what is the Covenant really about? Essentially, it’s about being accountable to each other in the Communion. As in any family, what we do affects those with whom we are in a relationship. The Covenant is about thinking through those relationships, and what the consequences are of whatever we choose to do in our own particular bit of the Communion’s life.

But one of the greatest misunderstandings around concerning the Covenant is that it’s some sort of centralising proposal creating an absolute authority which has the right to punish people for stepping out of line. I have to say I think this is completely misleading and false.

The Covenant suggests a process of scrutiny. That is, when any particular bit of the Anglican Communion decides it wants to do something new, for whatever reason, then that particular bit of the Communion needs to look at what it is doing and think it through in terms of what its effects might be elsewhere in the Anglican family. And as that process of scrutiny goes on other provinces are drawn in, and the instruments of the Communion at large are drawn in. We look at what we’re doing in the light of its effects, not just for us, but for others.

It may be that at the end of the day there are real incompatible possibilities around. Choices have to be made, and relations may suffer as a result. They do already. And what the Covenant proposes is not a set of punishments, but a way of thinking through what the consequences are of decisions people freely and in good conscience make.

But who needs the Covenant, it might be said? There’s one very short answer to that. Some bits of our Communion represent needy and isolated parts of the Christian world. They need relationships. They need the assurance that we won’t drive them into difficult positions. They need to know that we take them seriously enough to engage in conversation with them. And that’s part of what keeps them going and what makes them strong. It’s very interesting that some of the parts of the Communion that have already said yes to the Covenant are exactly that kind of church.

And so, as we in our dioceses think about the Covenant, I believe it’s of the very first importance that we try and bear in mind how it’s going to impact, let’s say, on our companion dioceses in other parts of the Communion: we might want to ask them about it; we might want to think through what they have to say and how they might feel.

A lot of people have said that the first few sections of the Covenant, the first three bits of the Covenant, are uncontroversial. They set out a common ground on which we all agree and they, in general ways, urge us to think about these things – to think about the impact on other parts of the Communion and what we decide to do.

But then people say the difficulty comes with the fourth section. But that fourth section is not a disciplinary system. It’s about a process of discernment and discussion. Nobody has the power to do anything but recommend courses of action. Nobody is forced by that into doing anything.

And it’s worth remembering also that the sort of issues that may arise within the Communion that threaten deeply to divide us are not just the ones that have been most in focus in the last seven or eight years; issues especially around human sexuality. There could be many other developments: developments about how we understand our ordained ministry; how we understand our mission; the limits of diversity in our worship; even perhaps in the public language we use about our doctrine. If we don’t have any way of scrutinising, discerning and discussing, then I think we’re a great deal the poorer.

What’s more, it means that we come into our ecumenical discussions, our discussions with other churches, without any very clear sense of what holds us together. Many of our ecumenical partners are very interested in the Covenant and very enthusiastic about it. They like to think that they're dealing with a family of churches capable of talking to one another intelligently, sympathetically, and critically; a family of churches that has a common language, a common practice, a common set of standards about how to resolve conflicts when they arise. Not to endorse the Covenant does seem to me, in this context, once again an impoverishing sort of thing. It sets us rather on the back foot in our conversations with other churches.

The Covenant won’t solve all our problems, but it will express what a great many people in the Communion and outside need to hear: that we are answerable to one another; that we take each other fully seriously. And in terms of the Church of England, it means that we understand and accept that the Church of England is part of the Anglican family, not some special isolated little bit that doesn’t have to ask these questions.

What do we in the Church of England gain from it? What we gain from being part of a Communion: the wisdom, the challenge – sometimes acceptable, sometimes welcome, sometimes very difficult – of our sister churches. We gain a way of handling the sort of conflicts that otherwise threaten simply to fester. And I believe with all my heart that what’s offered to us in the Covenant is an adult, sensible, workable way of handling the conflicts that will inevitably arise in a spirit of real mutual respect.

We’re being invited not to sign away our freedom but to accept that in the body of Christ we are all obliged to one another. We’re all responsible to, and for, and with one another. If we can approach the Covenant in that spirit then I believe passionately that it’s worth voting for and worth supporting. And my prayers will be with all of those who are making decisions about this in the dioceses of the Church of England.

© Rowan Williams 2012
I hope for a different outcome than the archbishop, that the Church of England votes 'no' to the covenant. I pray that God bestows the gift of wisdom on those who vote.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


From the Church Times:
From the Rt Revd Dr John Saxbee and the Rt Revd Dr Peter Selby

Sir, — Whichever side of the argument you are on there are grounds for real concern about the way the debate about it is progressing. It cannot be good to learn, as we do, that many bishops who are against the Anglican Covenant don’t want to say for fear of seeming disloyal, that diocesan synods are “debating” the issue without hearing both sides of the argument equally presented, and that there is so much boredom and weariness about the whole issue.

This is a major proposal with potentially serious consequences for this and future generations of Anglican Christians, and for those ecumenical partners with whom we are in conversation. Nothing will be worse than for the Covenant to be yawned through at a July Synod preoccupied with debating the ordination of women as bishops, passed and then put in a drawer — only for us to discover that those who now brand it “toothless” then use it and propel the Communion into a litigious and factious future.

The Archbishop of Canterbury made it clear in his Advent letter that such is not his purpose. But the proposed Covenant cannot now escape the identity it has acquired as an instrument of exclusion. He also asks what is the alternative; we respond that the alternative to having a Covenant is not having one, and this is a time to hold fast to Anglicanism’s inherited culture of inclusion and respectful debate which is our way of dealing with difference rather than require assent to procedures and words that have already shown themselves to be divisive.

In short, if we can agree it we don’t need it and if we need it we won’t agree it. We believe that the Covenant is to be resisted. But, above all, our plea is for a debate that is candid, even-handed, and open. If it comes to the General Synod, it should do so as its seriousness deserves, as the principal business.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is trying to railroad the Anglican Covenant through the Church of England General Synod quickly, before too many people in the church have a chance to study the document closely and note what harm may result for the Anglican Communion and for the Church of England if the covenant is adopted. The Anglican Communion Office sends out only pro-covenant materials, which is not right and not fair, because the members of Synod need to hear from both proponents and opponents of the document in order to vote wisely.

Thank you, Bishops Saxbee and Selby for speaking out. Isn't it time for the other bishops who doubt the wisdom of adopting the covenant to lend their voices to the debate? I like very much the answer the bishops give to Archbishop Rowan's statement that there is no alternative to the covenant:
...we respond that the alternative to having a covenant is not having one and this is the time to hold fast to Anglicanism's inherited culture of inclusion and respectful debate....
Amen and amen!

Thanks to my English friend, Neal Terry (aka themethatisme), who sent me the letter which can now be viewed on the website of the Church Times.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Yesterday, Ann V. suggested that shopping at the Canterbury Cathedral Gift Shop (or should that be 'Shoppe'?) might be an alternative to the crowds and crush on Black Friday. Alas, Black Friday has come and gone, but those of us here in the US have until December 9 to assure delivery of purchases from the gift shop before Christmas.

As usual click on the images for the larger view.

The pendant and earrings are attractiuve, indeed, but I'm a bit doubtful about the cufflinks with pictures of the cathedral. I don't see many men wearing cufflinks today, but perhaps I travel in the wrong circles. Here's the link to the page to purchase the items.

Ho, ho, ho! It's St Nicolas! And Archbishop Rowan! The idea of having stuffed figures of Rowan hanging on Christmas trees throughout the world seems a bit strange, but what do I know? In truth, but for the length of the beards, St Nick and Rowan look very much alike. The ornamental figure of the Archbishop of York is available, too.

Shop away, my lovelies!

Monday, October 10, 2011


During his visit to Zimbabwe, in his sermon at the celebration of the Eucharist in a stadium crowded with 15,000 people, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams struck all the right notes.
It is not only that some refuse the invitation of God to share his abundant love and generosity. It is all too easy for us human beings to try and block that love and prevent it from reaching others. You know very well, dear brothers and sisters, what it means to have doors locked in your faces by those who claim the name of Christians and Anglicans. You know how those who by their greed and violence have refused the grace of God try to silence your worship and frustrate your witness in the churches and schools and hospitals of this country. But you also know what Jesus' parable teaches us so powerfully – that the will of God to invite people to his feast is so strong that it can triumph even over these mindless and Godless assaults. Just as the Risen Jesus breaks through the locked doors of fear and suspicion, so he continues to call you and empower you in spite of all efforts to defeat you. And in the Revelation to John, the Lord proclaims that he has set before us an open door that no-one can shut. It is the door of his promise, the door of his mercy, the door into the feast of his Kingdom.

In your faith and endurance, you have kept your eyes on that open door when the doors of your own churches have been shut against you. You have discovered that it is not the buildings that make a true church but the spiritual foundations on which your lives are built. And as we together give thanks for the open door that God puts before us, we may even find the strength to say to our enemies and persecutors, 'The door is open for you! Accept what God offers and turn away from the death-dealing folly of violence.'

This Eucharist is the sign of God's purpose for all of us; it is a feast in which all are fed with Christ's new life, in which there is no distinction of race, tribe or party. In this community there can be no place for violence or for retaliation: we stand together, sinners in need of grace, proclaiming to the world that there is room at God's table for all people equally. What the Church has to say to the society around it, whether here or in Britain, is not to advance a political programme but to point to the fact of this new creation, this fellowship of justice and joy, this universal feast. It is on the basis of this vision that we urge all people to say no to violence, especially as the next election approaches in this country; to discover that deep reverence for each person that absolutely forbids us from treating them as if their welfare did not matter, from abusing and attacking them.
Read it all. It is excellent.

There's more.

Following their meeting with President Robert Mugabe, the Archbishops of Canterbury, Central Africa, Southern Africa and Tanzania issued the following statement at their press conference.
In our capacities as leaders of the Anglican Church in Africa and worldwide, we have just met President Robert Mugabe.

We come here to be in solidarity with our Anglican sisters and brothers at the invitation of the local church – the Anglican Province of Central Africa, which includes the five dioceses of Zimbabwe.

As you know this has been a time of immense trial.

Since 2007 Anglican congregations in Zimbabwe have suffered serious persecution at the hands of the police. They have been intimidated. Their churches have been closed. Properties, including schools and clinics, have been seized.

As representatives of the Anglican Communion, and with the support of ecumenical friends worldwide, we strongly and unequivocally support the efforts of ordinary Anglicans to worship in peace and to minister to the spiritual and material needs of their communities.

Today we were able to present President Mugabe with a dossier compiled by the bishops in Zimbabwe which gives a full account of the abuses to which our people and our church has been subject. We have asked, in the clearest possible terms, that the President use his powers as Head of State to put an end to all unacceptable and illegal behaviour.

We are proud of our church and our people who have suffered so much, but who continue to serve with love and with hope.

For our part we pray, and invite you to join us in praying, that the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe be allowed to carry out its mission in peace, and serve its communities with love.
Gracious Father, we pray for thy Anglican Church in Zimbabwe. Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ thy Son our Savior. Amen.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


1. Will Archbishop Rowan Williams come to rue the day that he rammed the Anglican Covenant through General Synod of the Church of England?

2. If the answer to the above question is, 'Yes', will the archbishop ever admit to his rue?

Monday, August 1, 2011


From Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin:
When Uganda’s Eighth Parliament came to an end last May, the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill died with it. Almost immediately, M.P. David Bahati vowed to resurrect the bill in the Ninth Parliament. Two weeks ago, Frank Mugisha of Sexual Minorities Uganda told reporters and bloggers that there are persistent reports that the bill may be resurrected sometime in mid- to late-August. Ugandan MP Otto Odonga, who has said that he would apply to be a hangman even if it were his own son who was gay and at the gallows, confirmed to Warren Throckmorton that the bill will be brought back “perhaps by the end of August,” and that it would pick up “from where the last parliament ended.”
Read the rest of the post over there.

What will it take to bring to their senses people so filled with hate that they want to kill fellow citizens because of who they are? In his Presidential Address to General Synod of the Church of England in July 2011, Archbishop Rowan Williams praised the Anglican churches in Congo and Kenya for acting as the last refuge for oppressed people in the countries. Where is his call for the Anglican Church of Uganda to be the last refuge for GLTB people in the country, who are, even now, being persecuted and killed? Why the strange silence?

Image from Wikipedia.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


What do I want to say about the temper tantrums of Archbishops Rowan Williams and John Sentamu that I have not already said elsewhere? Not much.

As the Guardian reveals in a leak from the notes of the late dean of Southwark Cathedral, Colin Slee, who was present at the meeting to choose a bishop for the Diocese of Southwark:
The document reveals shouting matches and arm-twisting by the archbishops to keep out the diocese's preferred choices as bishop: Jeffrey John, the gay dean of St Albans, and Nicholas Holtam, rector of St Martin-in-the-Fields in central London, whose wife was divorced many years ago. Eventually Christopher Chessun, then an assistant bishop, was chosen.

As I've already said, I'd like to have smacked the two archbishops, but that's resorting to violence. On second thought, I'd send them to their rooms without their supper to contemplate their bad behavior.

Unfortunately, the two men are not toddlers, but rather "mature" men in positions of power and influence, and their actions have consequences, grave consequences.
Slee described Williams shouting and losing his temper in last year's Southwark meeting, which left several members of the crown nomination committee, responsible for the selection of bishops, in tears.

Slee also in effect charges the church with hypocrisy, stating that there are several gay bishops "who have been less than candid about their domestic arrangements and who, in a conspiracy of silence, have been appointed to senior positions". The memo warns: "This situation cannot endure. Exposure of the reality would be nuclear."

How the Church of England continues to function in such a vast and hypocritical conspiracy of silence, remains a mystery to me. And that the Archbishop of Canterbury has the chutzpah to lecture our bishops in TEC on how to run a church is beyond my understanding. Perhaps he should try leading by example.

Friday, April 22, 2011


From the Telegraph:
There’s a charming article in today’s Times by Alex Renton, a non-believer who sends his six-year-old daughter Lulu to a Scottish church primary school. Her teachers asked her to write the following letter: “To God, How did you get invented?”

Instead of answering Lulu's question, Renton emailed the letter to "the Scottish Episcopal Church (no reply), the Presbyterians (ditto) and the Scottish Catholics (a nice but theologically complex answer). For good measure, he also sent it to...Lambeth Palace”.

Lulu received the following response from Lambeth:
Dear Lulu,

Your dad has sent on your letter and asked if I have any answers. It’s a difficult one! But I think God might reply a bit like this –

‘Dear Lulu – Nobody invented me – but lots of people discovered me and were quite surprised. They discovered me when they looked round at the world and thought it was really beautiful or really mysterious and wondered where it came from. They discovered me when they were very very quiet on their own and felt a sort of peace and love they hadn’t expected.

Then they invented ideas about me – some of them sensible and some of them not very sensible. From time to time I sent them some hints – specially in the life of Jesus – to help them get closer to what I’m really like.

But there was nothing and nobody around before me to invent me. Rather like somebody who writes a story in a book, I started making up the story of the world and eventually invented human beings like you who could ask me awkward questions!’

And then he’d send you lots of love and sign off.

I know he doesn’t usually write letters, so I have to do the best I can on his behalf. Lors [sic] of love from me too.

+Archbishop Rowan

How kind of Archbishop Rowan to write such a lovely and theologically simple response to Lulu.

Thanks to Ann and Cathy for the link.