And liberated these days:
Peerage for Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury upon his retirement from the See of Canterbury
The Queen has been pleased to confer a peerage of the United Kingdom for Life on the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Dr Rowan Williams Lord Archbishop of Canterbury upon his retirement from the See of Canterbury.
Notes for editors:
1. Rowan Williams was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury in 2002, having previously been Archbishop of Wales.
2. Rowan Williams will be created a Baron for Life by the style and title of Baron Williams of Oystermouth in the City and County of Swansea.
3. The Prime Minister retains the right to nominate up to ten people for Life Peerages each Parliament. These are awarded to people who have given significant public service.
A Life Peer, by the way, is:
In the United Kingdom, life peers are appointed members of the peerage, whose titles cannot be inherited, in contrast to hereditary peers. Nowadays life peerages, always of baronial rank, are created under the Life Peerages Act 1958 and entitle the holders to seats in the House of Lords, presuming they meet qualifications such as age and citizenship. The legitimate children of a life peer take the privilege of children of hereditary peers, being entitled to style themselves with the prefix ‘The Honourable’.
Oops, I forgot to add ‘The Honourable’ to his list of titles above. I don’t think they could fit in anymore, even if they wanted to!
Last week, after a two-year search, Ephraim Mirvis was announced as the successor to Jonathan Sacks, who is stepping down after 21 years as the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of Great Britain and the Commonwealth. Rabbi Sacks’ tenure will end concurrently with that of the most senior clergyman in the Church of England, Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury. The coincidence of their retirements is apt, since the two men are in many ways alike. Both are admired in Britain and internationally for their intellect, erudition, and knowledge. Both speak the language of Britain’s increasingly secular educated elite. And both have struggled to lead their respective institutions.
Moreover, the Chief Rabbi has in some respects eclipsed the Archbishop as the religious voice of the country.
Rowan Williams’ decade-long stewardship of the Church of England has not been a happy one. A liberal by temperament, the Archbishop has attempted to appease liberals and conservatives in the Church but satisfied neither. He angered liberals by blocking the appointment of Jeffrey John, a gay priest, as a bishop in 2003 and again in 2010. But he offended conservatives by failing to sanction the Episcopal Church in the United States for ordaining Gene Robinson, also gay, as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003; the incident led to a formal declaration of schism by several African churches in 2008. After the Episcopalians consecrated another gay priest as a bishop in 2010, Williams did impose sanctions—causing yet another rift in the Anglican Communion. He attempted to heal the divisions through an “Anglican Covenant,” which satisfied no one.
Williams’ efforts to resolve a decade-long dispute over female bishops have likewise angered both sides. His compromise amendment to a bill to introduce women bishops was defeated in 2010. Subsequently, some 60 clergy and 1,000 parishioners, fearing that Anglican women bishops were inevitable, defected to Catholicism. But last month the General Synod rejected the bill—through the votes of the conservative laity, which outweighed those of the liberal clergy. Thus, Williams leaves the Church little different, but much more embittered.
If the Archbishop can be excused for failing to unify increasingly divergent Anglican opinions, he must bear some responsibility for the fact that the number of Christians in Britain has fallen by a staggering four million in the past decade: for Williams’ interventions in public life have been not religious but political. Rather than decrying the secularism of Britain’s Guardianista elite, he has adopted its fashionable causes, attacking the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, bankers involved in the financial crisis, and politicians entangled in Parliament’s expenses scandal. He has provoked outrage by backing the establishment of sharia courts in the U.K. He has also condemned the current Conservative government for their modest aim of closing the national deficit by 2015 by trimming public spending (which they have, so far, utterly failed to accomplish). After he lambasted the education and health reforms of Prime Minister David Cameron as “radical, long-term policies for which no one voted,” Cameron told Williams, in effect, to mind his own ecclesiastical business.
Thus, though the leader of Britain’s established church, the Archbishop has become an unwelcome figure to whom to turn for religious counsel.
Into this breach has stepped the Chief Rabbi…
You simply must read on here.
Judaism having more religious credibility than Anglicanism in Britain? Not hard to believe.
Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams said today that his successor was going to have to map the Biblical vision of humanity and community onto the worst situations in society.
Speaking at the final media conference after the end of the Anglican Consultative Council in New Zealand, Archbishop Williams said the issues discussed at the meeting–including environmental change and ending domestic violence–were “actually questions about what kind of humanity we’re seeking to promote and serve, which is a deeply Christian question.”
He said he thought that when people were probing the church on certain issues, they were actually asking how the church could help them “be really human”.
“We believe as a church we have unparalleled resources for enriching humanity that way.”
In response to a question about what qualities the next Archbishop of Canterbury needs to have, he quoted Karl Barth who he described as “the greatest theologian of the 20th century.”
“I think it was put very well by a theologian of the last century who said, ‘You have to preach with a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other’.
“You have to be cross-referencing all the time and saying ‘How does the vision of humanity and community that’s put before us in the Bible map onto these issues of poverty, privation, violence and conflict?’ And you have to use what you read in the newspaper to prompt and direct the questions that you put to the Bible: ‘Where is this going to help me?’
“So [regarding the qualities of his successor] I think somebody who likes reading the Bible and likes reading newspapers would be a good start!”
Time was when the prime minister chose the Archbishop of Canterbury – if only…
It seemed so easy: scarcely was the ink dry on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s letter of resignation than the nomination of his successor was made. That was Stanley Baldwin, instantly appointing Cosmo Gordon Lang in succession to Randall Davidson in 1928. It was a perk of being prime minister, to choose who should reign at Canterbury.
How different from the slough of indecision since the resignation of Dr Rowan Williams last March. In two months he is to become Master of Magdalene College. In the meantime, a committee of 16 has floundered, paralysed by worthy motives. There is no reversing the ratchet that took the choice first from the monarch, then the prime minister. But we might be sooner served by emulating the Apostles’ casting lots for Matthias, or by following the Copts, whose pope’s name is drawn from a box by a blindfolded child.
Three day meeting will nominate a successor to Rowan Williams.
The Crown Nominations Committee starts a three day meeting today to finalize its selection of two names to present to the Primate Minister for appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury.
The location of the 26-28 September 2012 meeting has been kept secret as has its deliberations. Rumors as to the names under consideration have circulated freely over the past few months, with some candidates rising and falling in popularity among punters. The “favorites” at this stage of the process include the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, the Bishop of London, Dr. Richard Chartres, the Bishop of Durhan, Justin Welby, the Bishop of Coventry, Christopher Cocksworth, and the Bishop of Norwich, Graham James.
In contrast to past deliberations of the Crown Nominations Committee, the discussion over the selection of a successor to Dr. Rowan Williams have not been leaked to the press or have been the subject of informed “off the record” comment from insiders.
Two names will be presented to Prime Minister David Cameron – the recommended choice and an alternate. Unlike past archiepiscopal appointments, the Prime Minister is not expected to exercise a choice over the names and is likely to submit the recommended name to the Queen for approval…
More here including the names of all those serving on the Committee.
Benedict Brogan’s interview with Rowan Williams, outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury, in the Telegraph last Saturday threw up some interesting observations. Brogan writes, “His time has been marked by an often vitriolic debate about the march of militant secularism. He laughs at the recollection of his exchanges with the atheist academic Richard Dawkins, whom he describes as the “latest pub bore” in the tradition of “great public atheists.”
The outgoing Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, whose latest book, The Great Partnership: God, Science and the Search for Meaning, I have already referred to in a recent blog, is rather less dismissive of Dawkins in his book. Indeed, I don’t remember reading about Williams’ public exchanges on atheism during his time in office: his Socialist-inclined political views – yes; his ideas about Sharia law – yes; controversy over same-sex oriented clergy – yes; his rather muted attitude about defending marriage (unlike his predecessor, Lord Carey) – yes; and lots of general remarks when it was quite hard to know what he was talking about (well, he is an intellectual).
It seems that Williams, seizing the opportunity now that freedom beckons, has published a collection of past lectures, entitled Faith in the Public Square. According to a report in CFNews, he is critical of Lord Carey and of the former Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev. Michael Nazir-Ali, for stating that Christians in Britain are facing persecution. Williams’ view is that “Argument is essential to a functioning democratic state, and religion should be involved in this, not constantly demanding the right not to be offended”.
Surely this is unfair to his colleagues in the Anglican hierarchy? Carey and Nazir-Ali have never indicated they are hostile to argument – when it means a fair and open debate; what they and others have been pointing out for some time (though Williams seems to have missed it) is that in a number of cases that have been well-publicised, Christians’ beliefs have been marginalised and dismissed by a highly secularist interpretation of the law. Given the life-threatening persecution of Christians in some Muslim countries, “persecution” in this context is perhaps too strong a word; but words like “harassment”, “denigration” and “heavy-handed” do come to mind. What Christians want in this country is the right to practise their faith and to follow their conscience; it has nothing to do with a so-called “right not to be offended.”
In his new book, Rowan Williams apparently distinguishes between “programmatic” secularism which becomes problematic when it excludes religious practise and symbols from public life in order to emphasise loyalty to the state; and “procedural” secularism under which the state allows people to publicly practise their faith but does not give preferential treatment to any single religious group. Michael Nazir-Ali rejects this distinction, stating that any form of secularism represents an assault on the Church and on Christian values.
I agree with him. Williams’ is a typically intellectual approach, examining the question in an abstract way without reference to how people actually live their lives. If people were happy to live and let live in the tolerant way he would like, the history of the world would be different. But certain laws enacted by our secularist government directly impinge on people’s Christian beliefs – for instance, laws on adoption and the (anticipated) change to the definition of marriage itself. Furthermore, Williams is (still) the Christian primate of the Established Christian Church in this country; the Queen is still “Defender of the Faith”. What does not giving “preferential treatment to any single religious group” mean in this context?
Brogan comments, “Where others would want to hear clarion clarity about a crisis [on marriage] that goes to the very heart of the Church, [Williams] shies away and hedges. To his critics, this is the reason why the Church appears weak, because he does not communicate certainty…”
To return to Lord Sacks: his book, according to Andrew Marr – not an oracle, admittedly, but still a good barometer of liberal taste – is “the most persuasive argument for religious belief I have ever read.” Sacks argues, not that Dawkins is the “latest pub bore” but that questions of religion and science concern different hemispheres of the brain: science (the left hemisphere) “takes things apart to see how they work”; religion (the right hemisphere) “puts things together to see what they mean”; both activities are vital.
Come to think of it, it is a great pity that the Chief Rabbi can’t, for obvious reasons, apply for the job of being the next Archbishop of Canterbury: he is an intellectual – but with a gift for clear exposition; he believes in God, marriage, the family; he is conciliatory rather than divisive; and from his own religious and historical perspective he sees the marginalisation of faith for what it is.
The Anglican Church is drawing up plans for a historical overhaul that would see the introduction of a ‘presidential’ figure to take over some of the global role of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams has revealed.
The Telegraph reports:
The outgoing leader of the world’s 77 million Anglicans suggested a form of job share after admitting that he had failed to do enough to prevent a split over homosexuality.
Dr Williams said a new role should be created to oversee the day to day running of the global Anglican communion, leaving future Archbishops of Canterbury free to focus on spiritual leadership and leading the Church of England.
In his last major interview before he steps down later his year, he acknowledged that he had struggled to balance the growing demands of the job at home and abroad and admitted he had “disappointed” both liberals and conservatives.
He also said that the Church had been “wrong” in its treatment of homosexuals in the past but reiterated his opposition to same-sex marriage.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Daily Telegraph, Dr Williams also acknowledged that his handling of the controversy over the role of Islamic sharia law in Britain had caused “confusion” but said he stood by his central views.
He also voiced concern that politicians with little or no connection to religion were coming under the influence of secular campaigners and called for more Christians to go into politics.
And he hinted at a possible change in relationship between the monarch and the established Church when the Prince of Wales becomes king, remarking that he was “more quizzical” than his mother about the Church of England.
But he also voiced optimism about the state of the Church and said that despite a fall in attendances at services, “popular spirituality” is alive and well.
Dr Williams was speaking as Faith in the Public Square, a collection of his lectures dealing with subjects as diverse as human rights, secularism and multiculturalism, is published.
Looking back over his time at Lambeth Palace, which has seen a string of controversies over issues such as the ordination of homosexuals and the question of women bishops, Dr Williams acknowledged that there had been “mistakes”.
“I know that I’ve, at various points, disappointed both Conservatives and Liberals,” he said.
“Most of them are quite willing to say so, quite loudly.
“That’s just been a background to almost everything, a pretty steady ‘mood music’.”
Arguably the biggest crisis he has faced has been the split between traditionalist provinces, including the rapidly growing African churches, and liberals following the ordination of the first openly homosexual Anglican bishop, Gene Robinson in the US.
He acknowledged that he had failed to do enough to stop the split developing but said that was proof that the role of leading the Anglican Communion and the Church of England had become too much for one person.
“Thinking back over things I don’t think I’ve got right over the last 10 years, I think it might have helped a lot if I’d gone sooner to the United States when things began to get difficult about the ordination of gay bishops, and engaged more directly with the American House of Bishops,” he said.
He went on: “I think the problem though, is that the demands of the communion, the administrative demands of the communion have grown, and are growing.
“I suspect it will be necessary, in the next 10 to 15 years, to think about how that load is spread; to think whether in addition to the Archbishop of Canterbury there needs to be some more presidential figure who can travel more readily.”
He insisted that future Archbishops should still retain a “primacy of honour” and remain as “head” of the Anglican Communion but said there should be “less a sense that the Archbishop is expected to sort everything”.
He also disclosed that discussions were under way about overhauling the way the Anglican Church is organised around the world, adding “watch this space”.
Last night Bishop Mouneer Anis, the leader of Anglicans in the Middle East and North Africa – who is chairman of the Church’s leaders in the so-called “Global South” welcomed the suggestion.
But he added: “Speaking personally, I think having a presidential figure will not solve divisions unless the presidential figure has the support of the primates of the Anglican Communion.
“So [it has to be] someone who is elected, who sits and talks with the primates and would have an executive role to implement what they decide.”
And he said it was news to him that the discussions were taking place.
Closer to home, the Archbishop also reaffirmed the Church’s opposition to same sex marriage and warned it would lead to a legal “tangle”.
But he added that the Church had been “wrong” in the past in its approach to homosexuality…
More with a video interview here.
The CofE has been ‘wrong’ about far more than ‘homosexuality’ in the past. Listening to Archbishop Rowan Williams, it reads more like 20-20 hindsight on display… And history will not look on him kindly.
The worldwide Anglican Church risks a permanent split unless someone committed to traditional values is chosen as the new Archbishop of Canterbury, the leaders of 55 million churchgoers have warned.
In a major intervention in the selection process, an alliance of archbishops and bishops from four continents has written directly to the selection committee urging them to choose someone prepared to halt a drift towards liberal values on issues such as homosexuality.
The next Archbishop must be willing to “uphold the orthodoxy of the Christian faith” in order to secure the “future and unity” of the church “at a foundational level”, they say in a letter seen by The Daily Telegraph.
Only someone with an understanding of the more traditional views of Anglicans in Africa and elsewhere and the ability to gain their “respect” would be acceptable they add.
The warning comes in a letter to Lord Luce, the chairman of the Crown Nominations Commission, which is selecting the next Archbishop, by the leaders of the Church in the so-called “Global South”, who met earlier this week in Singapore.
Their intervention is likely to be viewed as a boost to the chances of the Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, being selected for Canterbury, as a figure well-regarded in Africa and elsewhere.
In addition to being the leader of the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury is the titular head of the estimated 80-million strong Anglican Church worldwide.
Despite its historic ties to England, it is increasingly dominated by the fast-growing churches primarily in southern hemisphere.
Most southern provinces still hold firmly to more traditional doctrines but some branches of the Church elsewhere, particularly in North America, have steered a more liberal course in recent years.
The splits were laid bare four years ago when a third of the bishops boycotted the 10-yearly Lambeth Conference in London in protest at the American church’s decision to ordain its first openly homosexual bishop, Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.
Since then the split has only become more entrenched. Earlier this year an attempted unity pact on which Dr Rowan Williams staked his authority was rejected in the Church of England itself.
Following the announcement of Dr Williams’s retirement, leaders of African and Asian churches have privately voiced fears that their views are being ignored in a selection committee dominated by white, liberal-leaning Britons.
Earlier this month Bishop Mouneer Anis, the leader of the Church in the Middle East and North Africa, warned of a “colonial” approach to choosing the new Archbishop.
In the letter, signed by 17 primates, they make clear that, as leaders of what is now the majority of the Anglican church, they “expect to be consulted”.
“At a time when the Christian faith faces challenges from other religions as well as secular worldviews, the new Archbishop of Canterbury must be committed to uphold the orthodoxy of the Christian ‘faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints’,” they write, quoting a phrase from the New Testament.
In order to act as “Guardian of the faith” the new Archbishop must be able to enforce unity “especially on issues that have led to the present crisis in the Communion”, they add.
“The new Archbishop of Canterbury should have the experience and cross-cultural sensitivity to understand the concerns and conflicts in the worldwide Communion,” they add.
“He has to be able to communicate effectively and gain the respect and confidence of, his fellow primates in the Global South.”
But last night one senior figure in the Church of England warned that the global split could now be too deep for the new Archbishop to bridge.
“Whoever it is I don’t think one man can achieve it really because the splits are so deep,” he said.