The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has announced he is to step down after ten years as he admitted that the row over homosexuality in the Church has been a “major nuisance”.
Dr Williams, 61, will leave at the end of December to take up a new role as Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge next January. The Queen, Supreme Governor of the Church of England, has been informed.
His reign has been plagued by bitter rows over gay clergy and women bishops that have left him struggling to prevent the Church from unravelling.
Explaining his reasons for leaving, Dr Williams admitted that “crisis management” was not his “favourite activity” but denied the rows over homosexuality had “overshadowed everything”.
But he said: “It has certainly been a major nuisance. But in every job that you are in there are controversies and conflicts and this one isn’t going to go away in a hurry. I can’t say that it is a great sense of ‘free at last’.”
Dr Williams said his successor would need the “constitution of an ox and the skin of a rhinoceros”.
It was December 2002 when he was confirmed as 104th Archbishop of Canterbury and spiritual leader of the 77-million-strong Anglican Communion.
Lambeth Palace said he would continue to carry out his duties until the end of the year while the Crown Nominations Commission would consider “in due course” the selection of a successor.
He described the Church of England as a “great treasure” which was still a place where many people sought inspiration and comfort in times of need.
“I would like the successor that God would like,” he said. “I think that it is a job of immense demands and I would hope that my successor has the constitution of an ox and the skin of a rhinoceros, really.
“But he will, I think, have to look with positive, hopeful eyes on a Church which, for all its problems, is still, for so many people, a place to which they resort in times of need and crisis, a place to which they look for inspiration.
“I think the Church of England is a great treasure. I wish my successor well in the stewardship of it”…
There is more here.
See also: Archbishop of Canterbury resigns: tributes to Rowan Williams, here.
And: Six days after meeting with Pope, Rowan Williams announces retirement as Archbishop of Canterbury, here.
That said, here is the Archbishop himself: