Thinking Anglicans

Rowan Williams announces his retirement

Lambeth Palace press release: Archbishop of Canterbury to be Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge

Archbishop Rowan Williams has today announced his acceptance of the position of Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge with effect from January 2013. He will therefore be stepping down from the office of Archbishop of Canterbury at the end of December 2012.

Dr Williams’ intentions have been conveyed to The Queen, who is Supreme Governor of the Church of England and who formally appoints the Archbishop of Canterbury…

Bishopthorpe Palace press release: Statement Regarding Archbishop of Canterbury Stepping Down

Following the announcement this morning that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, will be stepping down from his present office at the end of December, The Archbishop of York has released the following statement:

“It is with great sadness that I received the news that the Archbishop of Canterbury will be stepping down at the end of this year.

Our partnership in the gospel over the past six years has been the most creative period of my ministry. It has been life-giving to have led missions together, gone on retreats and prayed together. In his company I have drunk deeply from the wells of God’s mercy and love and it has all been joyful. He is a real brother to me in Christ…

General Synod members have been sent a copy of a note from the Secretary General (GS Misc 1019) to which is attached “Outline Of Procedures For The Appointment Of An Archbishop Of Canterbury”. We have made this available as a web page. Most of this GS Misc paper is also available here.

The Anglican Communion Office issued this press release: Archbishop of Canterbury announces he is stepping down at the end of the year.

Magdalene College Cambridge has issued this press release.

10 Downing Street issued PM Statement on resignation of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Lambeth Palace Archbishop’s interview with Press Association

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Spirit of Vatican II
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Spirit of Vatican II

A loss for Britain, a gain perhaps for Anglican theology (if the duties of Master are not onerous).

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest
Spirit of Vatican II

It would not surprise me if in a few months people were sighing, “bring back Rowan!”

ettu
Guest
ettu

Best wishes for retirement and, especially, for the choice of the new ABC. Is it fair to assume linkage between retirement and the lack of popularity for the Covenant or is that a bridge too far?

Laurence C.
Guest
Laurence C.

“In his company I have drunk deeply from the wells of God’s mercy and love and it has all been joyful” John Sentamu

How lovely for him.

Pity he then spits it out over gay people in his advocacy of ‘Separate but Equal’.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-17331892

John Bowles
Guest
John Bowles

I am sorry that Archbishop Williams is stepping down from Canterbury. But I am delighted that he is returning to academia, his natural world. However,I dread to think who will succeed him. The field is barren.

Neil
Guest
Neil

I wish Rowan well, and the fact he was likely to step down this year has been known for some time. However, am I alone in being suspicious about the timing regarding the Covenant votes still to come from remaining Dioceses?

Concerned Anglican
Guest
Concerned Anglican

That’s the final nail in the coffin of the Covenant … divine intervention?

rjb
Guest
rjb

Even Rowan’s detractors must feel that this is sad news. I’m sure we’d all want to wish him well as he goes on to head another reactionary, obstreperous institution (after a few years at Magdelene I suspect he’ll be missing the tranquility and civility of the Anglican Communion).

Lapinbizarre
Guest
Lapinbizarre

Talk about slinking off with your tail between your legs. Has Chartres ordained a woman to the priesthood yet, or just made noises about the fact that he would be willing to do so?

Counterlight
Guest

Too bad that Michael Ramsey is no longer available.

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

Rowan Williams, the best Archbishop of Canterbury we never had ………

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

This is an opportunity for the Church of England to go bigger than it has gone since the English Reformation i.e., move to allow women to become bishops, and introduce this reform by appointing a female to Canterbury.

c.r.seitz
Guest
c.r.seitz

“Even Rowan’s detractors must feel that this is sad news” — hardly. Just read the comments herewith.

No, the covenant failing to pass in the CofE will have no effect on his office, none at all…

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

I don’t think anyone, except for unforgiving evangelicals, will be other than sad about this. But it is inevitable. He has lost his struggle on the gay issue and his covenant is a dead duck. Anglican unity, which he fought so hard to maintain, is at an end. But who on earth will follow him? And why is the ABC always head of the Anglican communion? Wouldn’t it be better for the positions be separated and Anglican head to be elected as they do the presiding Bishop elsewhere?

Mary Marriot
Guest
Mary Marriot

‘Too bad that Michael Ramsey is no longer available.’

Has any one asked for him ?

He is more alive (to us) than many of the present house of bishops…

Mary Marriot
Guest
Mary Marriot

NOW, those remaining dioceses can vote according to their own consciences without fear or favour.No Rowan to please or appease.

Mary Marriot
Guest
Mary Marriot

Well it most certainly cannot be a translation from York. Thank God !

But Desmond Tutu is the obvious choice.

Tobias Haller
Guest
Tobias Haller

God bless him, and grant all good in his work at College. And may the Commissioners choose wisely for the future life of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion.

The Rev. Canon Dr. Lettie James
Guest
The Rev. Canon Dr. Lettie James

How about The Most Rev. Dr. Katherine Jefferts Schori for A.B.C? She is just what is needed. LettieJ.

Chris Smith
Guest
Chris Smith

In the best of all possible worlds, it would be the very best time to see a woman succeed Rowan Williams as Archbishop. Yes, I know, that is impossible at this point in time but it would truly be the very best move at a time when the fields seem so barren. A gay person would also be a natural and good choice but we know this will not happen. I wish Rowan well but I believe he failed the glbt community and women in general when he could have done so much to include rather than exclude.

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

Actually I am really happy for Rowan. He has truly carried a cross these past years. But it is part of the spirituality of the man that status is far less important than a quiet walk with God. He is not finished. He has a continuing voice, that is certainly worth listening to. I’d like to think that, released from the constraints of office, he has greater freedom to express personal convictions. Having said that, I suspect and hope he will exercise discretion, afford the new incumbent space, and avoid the kind of interventions another predecessor has made. His field… Read more »

DAvid WIlson
Guest
DAvid WIlson

You do all have to read the “The Gay Gospel” by Keith Sharpe. He is Chairman of Changing Attitudes – one of the main gay “Christian” activist organisations. He wrote the book to encourage the gay community to buttonhole every Christian they knew with the “true gospel”. But what are Christians to make of it? Jesus is now carnal – every agape encounter of love with a man is described as a homoerotic experience – so Jesus is no longer the sinless saviour (because he is carnal). The chapter on the Father is astonishing. He is carnal and accused of… Read more »

Scot Peterson
Guest
Scot Peterson

Trivia question: ( I got 30B re ABY interview on Sunday).
I think the first ABC to retire was R. Davidson (1928), nominally b/c the Lambeth Conference was that year (not 5 years hence) (really it was the Prayer Book defeat that year). Am I wrong? Did others retire before? And which retired after?

Craig Nelson
Guest
Craig Nelson

I am sad he is leaving but I sense his timing is about right. The Covenant is going down in smoke, his reasonable interventions on gay marriage are being drowned out by the most incredible outpourings from ++York, whatever good he was going to do he has probably done (in office that is, I am sure his gifts as an academic will do much good – whilst I don’t expect him to change any of his opinions I am hoping they will become easier to read). His time as Archbishop has not been great; I very much doubt anyone else… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

To everything there is a season…

Merciful Lord, guide your church into all Truth.

Kurt
Guest
Kurt

I’m sorry that I cannot share the effusion of “best wishes,” and “well done” etc. that are flowing to RW. As far as I’m concerned, it’s well past time that he resigned. He, like George Carey before him, has done great damage to the Anglican Communion. If his replacement follows in their steps of the past 20 years, then perhaps it will be time, at last, for The Episcopal Church to bid the AC a not-so-fond farewell. I would much rather be working productively with the Church of Sweden, the Old Catholics, ELCA, etc. than constantly fighting with Canterbury and… Read more »

john
Guest
john

My thoughts – for what they are worth, obviously not much:

(a) RW is not a natural Master/President of an Oxbridge college;

(b) Sentamu and Chartres are both in different ways deeply compromised figures and neither will ‘inherit’;

(c) It certainly won’t be the even more compromised and divisive Tom Wright;

(d) It might be – just might be – someone like – or possibly the very same – Jones of Liverpool who has played an intelligent, long-term game and who has shown himself able/willing to transecend his fairly basic formation.

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

This is in an opinion piece on the Guardian website:- http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/mar/16/rowan-williams-balance-leadership ‘Depending on your point of view, much credit or blame for this lies with the pope. Soon after his move to Lambeth Palace, the archbishop urged him to kick-start stalled talks on reunion between Rome and Canterbury. Benedict’s condition for allowing this was that the Anglican communion should streamline its structures and start talking with a more united voice. Williams agreed; the covenant has formed a major element in his strategy’. Can this possibly be true? Have Rowan’s principles been sacrificed on the altar of ecumenical expediency? In a… Read more »

Paul R
Guest
Paul R

I am delighted to see him go. He started out as either a Baptist or a Presbyterian, tried Catholicism, reinvented himself as a gay-friendly liberal, and then turned evangelical. He betrayed his friends, and his treatment of Jeffrey John, in particular, was despicable. He is a weak and unprincipled character.

karen macqueen+
Guest
karen macqueen+

As one of Rowan Williams’ detractors, I do not feel that this is sad news. For Dr Williams, it is a return to the role he plays best, the academic theologian. For the Church of England, it will be an opportunity to appoint someone who truly reflects where the membership of the Church finds itself at this time. A candidate who would see to it that all voices, including the voices of LGBT persons, clergy, and their families, would be heard at all levels of the Church would be welcome. I am not very hopeful that a candidate can be… Read more »

Daniel Berry, NYC
Guest
Daniel Berry, NYC

Once upon a time I thought I was going to be sad the day I heard this news.

Leonardo Ricardo
Guest

Is Archbishop Desmond Tutu available? I know, I know, he´s retired from public life but he certainly would bring back LIFE to the Church of England and the Anglican Communion…the good/kind Archbishop could bring about resurrection (again)! Leave no woman or man behind, that´s the stuff that the beloved, all the beloved, are MADE OF! Imagine, loving one another (again)?

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“And why is the ABC always head of the Anglican communion? Wouldn’t it be better for the positions be separated and Anglican head to be elected as they do the presiding Bishop elsewhere?” – Richard Ashby – I remember this question being asked years ago in the general Synod of ACANZP. However, it was felt that the time was not yet ripe. Maybe it should happen now? The only problem is that, numbers-wise, the Leader could be a member of GAFCON. How awful would that be for ‘Thinking Anglicans’? My own feeling about ++Rowan, is that he has fulfilled his… Read more »

rjb
Guest
rjb

@ John – I had thought we might allow a decent interval to elapse before we started down the path of picking successors. And I’m sure there will be (many, many) future posts on this theme… But I do agree: James Jones is a much more probable choice than either Sentamu or Chartres. @ Paul R: “He started out as either a Baptist or a Presbyterian, tried Catholicism, reinvented himself as a gay-friendly liberal, and then turned evangelical.” This is absurd. As Giles Fraser points out in a rather good short piece in the Guardian, ++Rowan was never a liberal,… Read more »

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

I wish I had an opinion on this, I really do. All that’s going to follow is just more mean-spirited, nasty infighting. I really don’t care about any of it any more. It’s just “Game of Thrones” in cassocks, copes, and mitres.

CP36
Guest
CP36

Did anyone watch the debate held recently between Richard Dawkins and Rowan Williams?
Will the Anglican Communion split after this?
It is a sad day for many Anglicans worldwide.

Malcolm French+
Guest

Despite Professor Seitz’s odd contribution here, I stand by my earlier comment. Archbishop Williams is only as damaged as he chooses to be over the fate of the Covenant. Typically, for the past seveal decades, Archbishops of Canterbury have served about ten years, retiring around the midway point between Lambeths. Williams was either going to leave within the next 12 months or so or he was going to stay til he was 72 – and that was never that likely. But if you prefer to ascribe his departure to the machinations of the powerful No Anglican Covenant Coalition, feel free… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Admin

‘Head of the Anglican Communion’? Who is that? Ah yes, that is Christ himself, the Head of the Church, isn’t it? It’s careless words like ‘Head of the AC’ that aggrandize the role and lead to a papalist view. The Abp is not ‘Head of the AC’, he’s not even ‘Head of the CofE’. He is the bishop of eastern Kent, with metropolitan rights in the English south and midlands. As the senior primate he has an important role as a focus of unity and primus inter pares at meetings of his fellow archbishops. But let’s not make him out… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

“The hide of a rhinoceros and the constitution of an ox”. Other denominations treat their chief pastors with Christian love and great respect – but Anglicans (and the Press)seem to treat theirs as whipping boys. No wonder Rowan is off to the shady groves after the battering he has received these past ten years. As to a successor – do we currently have a half-crown item in the sixpenny bazaar of the current bench? Recent history would suggest that it is the turn of an Evangelical. Ramsey – Catholic Coggan- Evangelical Runcie – Catholic Carey – Evangelical Williams – Catholic… Read more »

RPNewark
Guest
RPNewark

This site is *Thinking* Anglicans. Whilst, in my view, it is a little early to be speculating on who might be a worthy successor to +Rowan, I would like contributors to consider the paper GSMisc 109 referenced above by Simon S. before making comments. For example, +Desmond Tutu, lovely man though he is, is, at 80, already ten years past the CofE’s compulsory retirement age. +Katherine J-S could not be considered, not because of her gender, but because she is not a UK, Irish or British Commonwealth citizen and such citizenship is required because the Archbishop of Canterbury is /ex-officio/… Read more »

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

24 hours since the announcement of his resignation and the radio news is full of the reporting of the speculation and lobbying for his successor. I, for one, find this rather distasteful to say the least.

Unfortunately it also shows that for the next nine months ++Rowan will be a lame duck Archbishop. Perhaps he could use the opportunity to show us who he really is? Not the control freak he seems to have become but the wise inclusive and loving pastor we thought that he was.

commentator
Guest
commentator

May I draw your attention to the description of the Office of Archbishop of Canterbury contained in the details sent to members of the General Synod? The Archbishop of Canterbury is a ‘focus of unity”. This phrase has recently been introduced into the job description of diocesan (and perhaps suffragan) bishops in the Church of England. I think it is incorrect. The bishop is the SOURCE of unity, in that he or she is the fount of Holy Order in the diocese, either by the laying on of hands or by the giving of a License to those ordained elsewhere.… Read more »

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

I think that someone should point out that being Master of Magdalene is not exactly an academic theology post, contrary to some of the comment above: it rather involves being managerial/pastoral towards Fellows, Postgraduates, Undergraduates and Old Members of the college. Of course previous Masters have been able to find the time and energy to keep up their other interests as well. The Revd the 6th Baron Braybrooke, who was also hereditary Visitor of Magdalene, became Master in 1853, and remained in office until his death over 50 years later, in 1904, indicating that the post may offer a comfortable… Read more »

Gerry Lynch
Guest

Coming back to serious suggestions on the succession – does being 63 and a bit and having had a heart bypass last year rule out James Jones of Liverpool? I sincerely hope it doesn’t.

c.r.seitz
Guest
c.r.seitz

The consistent point being made–for those who read comments with intelligence–is that it is nonsense to suggest RDW and the Office of AB will be unaffected by a covenant defeat. The consistent point is that the covenant entails and encloses a particular view of the role of the Instrument of Communion that is the ABC. So it is fully consistent that the time has been chosen as it has for this ABC to announce he is stepping down. This has nothing to do with theories about the importance or not of a No Coalition. One can only speculate about that… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

I agree with Malcolm, the timing is unremarkable.
As far as the Covenant goes, Archbishop Williams can retire confident of having done what he could to advance the file, no better to stay if it is defeated than to leave. However, those of us who oppose the covenant should be very concerned about who all replaces Williams. Let’s pray we get an ABC who has regard for and an appreciation of the governance structures of both Canada and TEC.

robert ian williams
Guest
robert ian williams

I would not be shocked if Rowan Williams eventually joins the Roman Catholic Church….as a lay theologian, not interested in the Ordinariate.

However as a fellow Welshman I do wish him well, and hope and pray his dealings with Rome, have opened his heart.

I would like to see the Bishop of Coventry as the next Archbishop of Canterburt as he is a solid Protestant. Read his book on the Eucharist..pure Cranmer.

Lapinbizarre
Guest
Lapinbizarre

As an antidote to succession mania, might I recommend the “Mail” on the Carey succession stakes?

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-93656/Leading-contenders-replace-Carey.html

Jones is an interesting idea.

c.r.seitz
Guest
c.r.seitz

An ‘odd contribution’ apparently is lost in the ether.

Laurence C.
Guest
Laurence C.

“24 hours since the announcement of his resignation and the radio news is full of the reporting of the speculation and lobbying for his successor. I, for one, find this rather distasteful to say the least” Richard Ashby

Rowan Williams hasn’t died – we don’t need a period of mourning. All he’s done is resign from one job and announced he’s taking up another. I really can’t see what’s so ‘distasteful’ about discussing who might replace him.