Comments: Lambeth: Monday press conference

Every time I think that I have gotten used to Rowan Williams' weird statements, he manages to come out with something that sounds even more weird to my American ears. Do people in the UK have some means of making sense out of what he is saying, or are they just too polite to point out the the archbishop has no intellectual clothes on.

Posted by Richard Lyon at Monday, 21 July 2008 at 11:08pm BST

No intellectual clothes?
I simply do not see how you make this statement.
Clearly you are reading or hearing a different Godly man to one I am hearing - a man of great integrity, wisdom and intellect who talks not only with great clarity but with great understanding and openness as well.
Maybe his intellect does not cross 'the pond' too well.

Posted by Rob at Monday, 21 July 2008 at 11:31pm BST

I believe the Archbishop of Canterbury is well ahead of his time. I agree he is difficult to understand but worth making the effort. Reading his book, "Tokens of Trust" shows how deeply he understands God and Christ and what they are actively doing in the world right now. He says, "The resurrection displays God's triumphant love as still and for ever having the shape of Jesus. And this is why it won't do to reduce the resurrection just to something that was going on inside the heads of the apostles. If we go down that road, we lose sight of the conviction that seems so basic in the Bible, that the disciples meet a risen Jesus who is still doing what he always did, making God present in his actual presence, his voice and touch. I don't see how we can say all that without taking completely seriously what the New Testament says about the tomb being empty on Easter Day." This book is worth its weight in gold.

I think we should rethink what it means to be an Anglican and preserve our identity. It is about God being actively present in the world and with us now through Jesus Christ and we experience this best at the Eucharist and the Church. Being Anglican is not about following a set of rules but experiencing the presence of Christ through the Spirit. The three days between Good Friday and Easter has changed everything as far as God's relationship with the world is concerned.

Posted by cp36 at Tuesday, 22 July 2008 at 3:04am BST

Perhaps Richard Lyon is not used to Archbishop Rowan Williams' style of teaching. As spiritual leader of a very diverse group of Church - including the Episcopal Church of America - he has to adopt a very eirenic way of revelation, which, like that of any good teacher, always has something to say to those who really want to listen. The parabolic teaching of Jesus was not too dis-similar. "He who has ears to hear, let him hear - what the Spirit is saying to the Church!"

Like last Sunday's parable; the Seed is always capable of germination - but it has to find the proper soil (acceptance, in this case) before it can bear any fruit.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 22 July 2008 at 3:09am BST

What a strange, strange man. Even stranger is the fact that some believe his pronouncements come from some well of "wisdom." Pathetic.

Posted by Dennis at Tuesday, 22 July 2008 at 3:54am BST

Rowan is a fount of wisdom but all this Gene Robinson stuff becomes a quagmire every time. I wish the bishops would invite him to join them, belatedly, at Lambeth. His exclusion is illogical, or worse, follows another logic, that of scapegoating.

Posted by Spirit of Vatican II at Tuesday, 22 July 2008 at 7:40am BST

Dr Williams is illogical in that he invited female bishops whose consecration is 'questionable' by those who oppose the admission of women to the episcopate and whose intergrity must be honoured. Yet it is not possible to invite the Bishop of New Hampshire in the same way. Why does one integrity get honoured and the other insulted?

Posted by Commentator at Tuesday, 22 July 2008 at 9:38am BST

Fr Joe, scapegoating seems a good description of what is on offer in the Anglican Communion – and it is made all the more unpalatable because it just happens that several of those now selling this solution I called “friend”.

I remember all too well the day it dawned on me just how set this agenda was, it was a haunting experience – I really felt as if my family had been betrayed and we had become so much more vulnerable as a result.

I know that we are often sent to read other things from TA – but I do think that reading this interview with Mary Ann Sieghart in May 2004 does help focus on – Who Pays the Price? It also remains a focused analysis of the way forward for the Communion as understood by Rowan Williams. This interview couldn’t be fresher – it’s more relevant today than it was at the time!

The newspaper account is here:
while the full transcript is here:

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Tuesday, 22 July 2008 at 10:59am BST

I find Rowan's statements usefully provocative in making me think.

However, to claim, as Riazat Butt reports, that as many people were aggrieved by the GS decision on women in the episcopate as were elated by it is just plain wrong. It overlooks the 60% in the middle of the Church of England who were neither, but said, thank God, it's about time. Yes the traditionalist voices are valuable and must be heard, but they only reflect 7% of the Church of England at best, and a 7% that has not had the experience of walking and talking with a presbyterate that is 20% female and in terms of new recruits, 50% and growing.

Posted by MrsBarlow at Tuesday, 22 July 2008 at 11:18am BST

The ABC is a remarkable theologian.

Who else could take time off to write a book about Dostoevsky while a storm of forces sought to rend the Communiion by crossing diocesan borders, attempting to steal property,abandoning their orders and plotting an alternative to Lambeth?

That takes almost superhuman abilities to rise above or ignore the job one was chosen to do as Archbishop!

See Paradise Lost II, 557-565 or thereabouts - I'm too lazy to type it out for you.

Theologian? Yes. Effective leader of the Communion? NO!

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Tuesday, 22 July 2008 at 12:14pm BST

If Rowan Williams "eirenic" style is what the people in the Church of England want in a leader, who they had no voice in choosing, they are welcome to it. Imposing that nonsense on the rest of the world is a great waste of time. The Anglican Communion in its present form is entirely dysfunctional. It is an outdated imperial artifact. The British Empire went out of business. It's time for the rest of the world to move ahead and deal with reality. That reality is that it is probably a waste of resources to spend time and energy trying hold people together who are in profound disagreement with each other.

Posted by Richard Lyon at Tuesday, 22 July 2008 at 2:56pm BST


Thank you for bringing this RW interview to the fore - very revealing. I recall that the former B of Oxford (can't recall name ) was quoted as saying something to the effect that RW's sympathies are entirely with LGBT people but that he has a 50 - 100 year time horizon on this issue. In other words, on this issue, he is content to "lead from the rear". If this is indeed the case, I must ask myself, as a gay man, is there anything for which this price is worth paying? And the only answer I can find within myself is this - if he could obtain from ALL the primates an unequivocal commitment to promote and protect the fundamental human rights of LGBT people in their territories, not just with words, but with concrete actions,( and failure to do so would result in public censure of some kind), it might, just might, be worth it. Otherwise, the price of unity is too high.

Posted by Andrew Innes at Tuesday, 22 July 2008 at 4:55pm BST


I am glad you found the interview of interest. I completely understand your thinking as you look for a positive development as a consequence of this.
In December, seven months later I drafted an open letter to Rowan and I think this paragraph echoes something of your mood:
“There are many amongst us who, in the short or medium term, would gladly relinquish such fripperies as the wearing of a mitre if freedom from tyranny for the majority of LGBT people in our world were the prize, or even for the promise of making that struggle for justice a top priority for the Anglican Communion. But others see justice delayed as no justice at all, and are not convinced that the Communion has any real or lasting concern for the plight of its lesbian and gay members beyond your tenure of office.”

My problem has been that while there has been a clear determination to pursue TEC and New Westminster – we have seen no evidence that there was anything but hot air in the anathema that came in the Dromantine Communiqué in its promise to protect us. Indeed the Primate of Nigeria and his church were subsequently prime movers of proposed legislation that criminalised even those who advocated for us – and in Singapore the Anglicans were at the forefront of criminalising lesbians for the first time. Rowan promised to raise the matter – but it came to nothing. So there is no evidence of Rowan making this even a low priority …….

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Tuesday, 22 July 2008 at 9:17pm BST

All I can say, is "It's good job he is not unsympathetic towards us." ! (on any timescale)

Posted by Treebeard at Tuesday, 22 July 2008 at 9:50pm BST

"I recall that the former B of Oxford (can't recall name ) was quoted as saying something to the effect that RW's sympathies are entirely with LGBT people but that he has a 50 - 100 year time horizon on this issue"

Would he have had that about apartheit? Let's try, "I'm very sympathetic to Black South Africans' hopes for freedom but..."

Would he have answered Dr. King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail" by saying he had a 50 -100 year timeline for integration?

Maybe he should actually READ that document. More of a call to action than, say, Dostoevsky.

HE may have a 50 - 100 year timeline, but at age 64, I don't.

How arrogant is it to set a timeline for someone else's liberation?


Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Wednesday, 23 July 2008 at 1:06pm BST


The last few paragraphs of this article from Theo Hobson support the view that the ABC is playing a long game on this issue

But how long is long and how long has he got.There are, as you know, at least three Canadian dioceses that have recommended to their bishop the blessing of SSU's with substantial majorities. It is difficult to see how the bishops in question can frustrate the will of their people for decades, without serious negative consequences.

Posted by Andrew Innes at Wednesday, 23 July 2008 at 5:57pm BST
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