Friday, 16 March 2012
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
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on
Friday, 16 March 2012 at 10:39am GMT
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
| Church of England
A loss for Britain, a gain perhaps for Anglican theology (if the duties of Master are not onerous).
It would not surprise me if in a few months people were sighing, "bring back Rowan!"
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?
"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'.
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.
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?
That's the final nail in the coffin of the Covenant ... divine intervention?
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).
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?
Too bad that Michael Ramsey is no longer available.
Rowan Williams, the best Archbishop of Canterbury we never had .........
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.
"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...
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?
'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...
NOW, those remaining dioceses can vote according to their own consciences without fear or favour.No Rowan to please or appease.
Well it most certainly cannot be a translation from York. Thank God !
But Desmond Tutu is the obvious choice.
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.
How about The Most Rev. Dr. Katherine Jefferts Schori for A.B.C? She is just what is needed. LettieJ.
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.
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 will once again be theology and spirituality.
His feel and understanding for Carmelite spirituality is profound.
I wish him well in his continuing journey with God.
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 several attempted and several actual homosexual rapes. This is the same Heavenly Father that Keith Sharpe himself professes to believe in and worship as a self-declared Christian. I think this speaks a lot of their campaign and how much were the concerned about the love of God, rather than the love of each other and their own ways.
Such a gospel is no good to anyone. Keith Sharpe and the people who endorse his book - including Colin Coward of Changing Attitudes and Jeremy Marks of Courage are amongst some of the campaigners the Archbishop has listened to. So much for the love of their Christian brothers or their gay brothers and sisters.
You have to ask yourself why would you love the Father protrayed in the book. I can only conclude teh book was written with little love of God or discernment. The Ex-Bishop of Chelsford, John Gladwin. Also a trustee of Changing Attitudes should have had a better influence.
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?
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 would have done better - though the Jeffrey John episode was a particular low point.
Anyway I do wish him well - his future students are very fortunate. I also have dark forebodings about the future under his successor.
To everything there is a season...
Merciful Lord, guide your church into all Truth.
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 its socially and theologically backward minions.
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.
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 confrontation with Carey Rowan is reported to have said 'Who pays the price?' The answer as always is LGBT people.
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.
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 found who will steward the unity of the Church without steering the Church into an eddy where it could remain pushing against the movement of the Holy Spirit in the Church and in civil society in England. It will be my prayer, for the sake of brothers and sisters in England, that such a candidate will be appointed.
Of course, there will cries from the "biblically orthodox" in the CofE for a candidate to their liking. Perhaps, the GAFCON Churches will join the fray. I am sure that the Nominating Commission is not interested in hearing from an American priest, but I think that they would do well to have more modest aims for the candidate and his service than were characteristic of Rowan Williams' tenure. Movement away from a quasi-metropolitan of the Anglican communion is what I mean. I think that the CofE, as a body, would do well to move away from juridical solutions to the differing views in the Communion. More emphasis on Indaba and Ubuntu, common sharing in mission and in work to alleviate the suffering of humanity, with a gentle waiting for the offended to someday return to full participation in the Communion, is a far better way to live into the divine gift of Communion than have been the strategies adopted by Rowan Williams.
Once upon a time I thought I was going to be sad the day I heard this news.
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)?
"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 role as ABC perhaps too well - in the circumstances of his predecessor's alliance with the Dissenters. He has done his best to keep together the disparate parts of the Communion.
However, the voice that I suspect he has the least personal empathy with - the sola-scriptura school of GAFCON - has proved too radical for him to bring into alignment with those of us who want the Church to be Inclusive of ALL. He died his best!
My prayers are with him, with the Church of England, and also with the Communion as we seek to find integrity in our dealings with Women and Gays
@ 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, but rather a 'Blue Socialist' radical who has always believed that the welfare of the whole collective must take precedence over individual gratification. Much of his episcopate makes sense if viewed in this light. I don't know whether he would consider himself evangelical, but he has always been Catholic. The sole part of your critique that stands up is the rather snobbish complaint that he started out in life as a Welsh Non-Conformist. Moreover, if you feel ++Rowan was unfair to Jeffrey John, I suspect your delight will not last long into the tenure of his successor.
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.
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.
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 to fill your boots.
'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 to be the 'Head of the AC' or even, to use a term adopted by his predecessor, 'President of the AC'.
"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
Runcie - Catholic
Carey - Evangelical
Williams - Catholic
I wonder if the CofE has the imagination to be really daring and appoint an Evangelical Catholic? Step forward the recently appointed Bishop of Chelmsford - who as Bishop of Reading - stepped into the burning fiery furnace following the Jeffrey John debacle.
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/ a member of the House of Lords of the UK parliament.
It is fair enough to suggest potential candidates by referencing their qualities against those of people such as +Desmond or +Katherine but not to suggest the candidature of people who clearly cannot meet the rules.
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.
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. So too with the Archbishop of Canterbury, it is by being in communion with this bishop that the Anglican Communion is constituted.
The Archbishop of Canterbury must first and foremost be true to their personal integrity of faith before God, not seeking to appease others but to reveal the truth. Then those already in communion either remain or depart. Pragmatism is not what Christ calls for in his bishops, but principle, truth, and justice.
Where will the Lord find such a person? And if he does, will we be allowed to receive their ministry? I am deeply afraid that such courage is lacking in those who will advise the Vacancy in See Commission.
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 and well-deserved haven from the cares of the world and the Church...
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.
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 in the context of the wider fate of the covenant, as it is evaluated in the 30 something provinces yet to go.
BTW, the idea that it is 'unforgiving evangelicals' who will rejoice at the departure of RDW is belied fully by comments here at TA.
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.
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.
An 'odd contribution' apparently is lost in the ether.
"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.
Regarding Scott Petersen's trivia question,
Davidson was not the first ABC to resign, but perhaps the first to do so voluntarily!
Since him, with the one sad exsception of William Temple, every ABC has retired.
It would not be unheard of for the Bishop of Rome to welcome Rowan into the fold (if this is what Rowan seeks), by making him a Cardinal. This would not surprise me in the least. Stranger things have happened in imperial Rome. They write the script as they go along. Nothing should surprise us.
I very much hope that those in England nominating a new Archbishop of Canterbury will look to reintegrating the church with the English people.
They need not consider the supposed needs of the Anglican Communion -- it's an informal association of national churches that will take care of itself. The recent attempt to formalize its structure has been killing it. The parts of it that wish to cooperate will continue to do so.
To shore up the strongest group remaining in the C of E, the Evangelicals, would only widen the gap between church and people. In his diocesan address, the Bishop of Liverpool pointed the way: “The church must be free to go into all the world and to engage with new cultures enabling us all to learn Christ.”
It's a truism nowadays that people are leaving religion and seeking spirituality. Those terms are too vague to be much help, but they indicate the only direction open for continued engagement of church and people. Medieval speculations have died with Empire (US and British alike). The church must stop offering answers to questions no one is asking. It needs to engage, and discover a calling anew.
Did the Queen give her consent yet? Isn't she supposed to be Supreme Governor? Could she not say, "Archbishop, it is your duty to stay on, and England expects etc.'? If she did, it would do wonders for her authority.
Are cardinals now required to be in major orders?
I concur heartily with Murdoch!
I was leery of Liverpool a decade ago -- I was wrong. At 63, is he too old for serious consideration this go?
Load of cods being talked about the reasons for the timing by journalists and bloggers. Rowan told the Bishops last year that he was planning to go soon and leave enough time for his successor to organise the next Lambeth Conference [for those who like such things...(ed.)]
So it was bound to be in 2012 or 2013 at the latest. It was also going to be a post in academia. Which meant waiting for one to come up. Magdalene voted last Thursday, so it had to be announced on Friday.
But of course that's far too prosaic an explanation for the gossips and conspiracy theorists. They want it to be about the Covenant, or gay marriage, or nasty ConEvos. And they won't listen to the real explanation because the narrative they like is all about Rowan as victim, or people plotting against him, or other fantasies. Well, you know what, he decided to go when he felt the call of God to go - and he walks off to the next thing with his head held high, and much loved by all who've worked with him.
Fie upon all the journos and bookies. Make up all the stories you like. You're pathetic.
Good to have a politician take the time to tell us the unvarnished truth. Not a hint of spin.
As Bp Pete says the precise timing was largely out of the Abp's hands.
But we are delighted that he is coming to be an assistant bishop in this diocese, where he once served as an assistant curate.
I'm a little confused. GS Misc 1019 says that 'Since 2007 the agreed convention in relation to episcopal appointments has been that the Prime Minister commends the name preferred by the Commission to the Queen.' Yet as at 28th February 2008, the author of House of Commons briefing SN/PC/04403 was under the impression that no such agreed convention was yet in place.
I also note that GS Misc 1019 quietly introduces an important change of procedure compared with its equivalent document from 2002 ...
The 2002 document talks of 'consultations in the diocese, the Church and the wider country', whereas GS Misc 1019 has 'a wider consultation exercise to inform the Commission’s consideration of the needs of the mission of the wider Church of England and the Anglican Communion'. The wider country has disappeared from view. I for one find this deeply troubling.
Fr Mark: '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.'
A curio that occurs to me: Barber (1995, _Eccles. Law J._ *3*:299-312) lists Magdalene as possibly being a Royal Peculiar in its own right. If so, then Dr. Williams will still, in effect, be exercising archepiscopal authority - but now in a context where he can (and must) make doctrinal and liturgical decisions unilaterally, without worrying about the views of synods and/or overseas metropolitans. I think it will be very interesting to observe what kind of decisions he makes in that environment.