Comments: reactions to the archbishop's New Statesman article

When did we last see a nation hang on the lips of a bishop to this extent? It's his revenge for the "rebuke" he received the last time. What gives his words power is the way they gently articulate the fears of millions.

Posted by Spirit of Vatican II at Friday, 10 June 2011 at 2:48am BST

Sorry. Despite the huzzahs, I'm still not impressed by Mr. Williams' "speaking out forcibly." He is terribly good at speaking out on the evils of others, and terribly bad at admitting his own ills and ill-will - I understand he'll even shout down those who oppose him (as long as it's in-private-secrety-secret).

The claims that we - somehow - are supposed to separate *this* public Rowan from *that* public Rowan and he's good here and maybe not-so-good there is spurious. A public figure, especially an archbishop, is the sum of his actions and policies, not piecemeal. Thanks to our friends in England I've learned the expression "curate's egg" - I think we're seeing curate's egg applied to Rowan Williams, here. An archbishop can't magically save his reputation for injustice by speaking out when it costs him nothing - and, incidentally, might make liberals think twice about disestablishment.

I'm reminded of two films, *Quiz Show* and *Shrek* - *Quiz Show* because of the powerful statement made by one of the congressional-hearing committee members, refusing to share in the glad-handing congratulatory cheers for Charles Van Doren for finally doing under threat what he should have done on his own long ago.

*Shrek* because of Donkey - "It talks!!" "Oh, yeah! It's gettin' him to shut up that's the trick!"

Posted by MarkBrunson at Friday, 10 June 2011 at 4:42am BST

One wonders why this article in the Guardian wasn't linked to?

Oh, now I see it, it doesn't serve the "mission" of "thinking anglicans" does it!?

Posted by Antony at Friday, 10 June 2011 at 9:57am BST

"When did we last see a nation hang on the lips of a bishop to this extent?"

Is that what this is really all about? A desperate bid by the C of E to be noticed by someone? I think the Archbishop has been badly advised. Even the Guardian thinks it was an unwise move.

Posted by Basil at Friday, 10 June 2011 at 10:59am BST

Giles Fraser - In response to the archbishop's attack on the coalition's "radical policies for which no one voted", the Tory rejoinder has been that no one voted for him either. And they have a point in one respect: greater democracy and openness in the life of the church would be most welcome. Bishops ought not to be chosen in secret little gatherings where distinguished and popular candidates can be easily blackballed for their sexuality'.

Mark Oakley makes the same point in the letters page of today's Guardian. It's not just the irate Tories making this point then. The Archbishop's impossible stance on Jeffrey John and gay bishops has left him vulnerable to more than just some justified sniping at Lambeth from across the Thames.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Friday, 10 June 2011 at 2:07pm BST

Clegg's miserable little compromise dealt a death blow to a golden opportunity to emancipate the poor.

Posted by A J Barford at Friday, 10 June 2011 at 2:13pm BST

Michael White's amusing ramble is hardly a coherent argument, is it, Anthony? As for the merits of Blair's speech - apart from the fact that he is decisively not an Anglican - the highlighted issue of Clegg's mess is a typical bit of politico insider stuff. ++Rowan at least has the virtue of saying what a lot of people think: these policies and this government have no mandate. Claiming, as one of the Tories (I think) did last night on TV, that they can only be judged by the standards of their 'coalition agreement' merely underlines the point.

Posted by Tony at Friday, 10 June 2011 at 3:06pm BST

In the last days of apartheid , white South Africa renamed apartheid plural never trust names.The Condem Government are trying to privatise state education by setting up so called free schools..which will allow any malcontent to divert millions into their own ego trips .The big society is little more than a sham.

Posted by Robert ian Wiklliams at Friday, 10 June 2011 at 4:26pm BST

'Damned if you do. Damned if you don't.'

Posted by Lister Tonge at Friday, 10 June 2011 at 4:44pm BST

I'm afraid I think this is RW desperately trying to claw back some moral capital after some shabby episodes, above all the not very private rubbishing of Jeffrey John at Southwark. Is it excluded that Church people should comment on, and deliver strong moral/religious judgements on, politics? Certainly not. But it crucially depends on how it's done. Is it excluded that such people should deliver blanket condemnations of whole governments/ regimes? Certainly not, depends on the circumstances. It certainly was appropriate to deliver a blanket condemnation of the Nazi regime (when, actually, Reformed Catholics/Protestants performed rather worse than RC bishops). But the UK Coalition? Here Williams' grasp of facts (surprise, surprise) is faulty. Opinion poll upon opinion poll has shown that actually the great British public agrees with the Coalition on the problem of national indebtedness. (Personally, I think they're wrong but that is not here at issue.) So, instead of the blanket condemnation, he should be focusing on specific injustices. He doesn't: this is shabby, self-justifying, low-grade posturing. I am acutely conscious that there is a tragedy here, but these low-grade moral posturings inevitably occur when you privilege 'orthodoxy' above all else, as RW for the last few years has done.

Posted by john at Friday, 10 June 2011 at 7:27pm BST

Catholics turning to the Conservative party! No way... we would never vote for the Conservative and UNIONIST party. The party that opposed Catholic emancipation and Irish home rule. After all they now support a liberal morality like new Labour.

Cameron drips insincerity.. I could just see him as car salesman.

I think Archbishop Nichols has more sense than to hitch his wagon to the conservatives.

The Daily Telegraph has some columnists who are totally out of touch with reality...twits like Damian Thompson.. totally taken in by the pretensions of the Ordinariate

Thinking Catholics are no lackies of new Labour or the "liberalised" toffs. And I must say neither was Doctor Williams.

Posted by Robert ian williams at Friday, 10 June 2011 at 9:00pm BST

"An archbishop can't magically save his reputation for injustice by speaking out when it costs him nothing" - Mark Brunson

Well perhaps he can. The case for radical institutional reform of the Church of England becomes almost unstoppable now.

Posted by A J Barford at Friday, 10 June 2011 at 9:53pm BST

john, Rowan Williams' stance seems to be one of nuanced criticism not blanket condemnation. I welcome the fact that he is voicing the concerns of some in the C of E who are dealing with the damage caused to the most vulnerable by certain government policies. His track record is far from perfect, but when he does challenge injustice (however cautiously), I would rather support him than attack him for doing so.

Posted by Savi Hensman at Friday, 10 June 2011 at 11:29pm BST

Savi, any attack he's getting, he's earned.

Why would anyone be moved or listen to a man who's been shown up, so often, as a moral coward? This is just posturing, and serves no interest but his own, and, by being voiced by a man of such poor and disgraced reputation, may actually hurt those whose cause he voices.

Rowan Williams has made himself - and his church, I'm sad to say - insignificant and anachronistic to the average UK citizen, and an antagonist to the rest. He lacks any self-awareness and has sold all his moral authority for a mess of pottage.

This isn't a Runcie who stands with the oppressed and outcast. This is a transparent attempt to make himself relevant and show he's still a "good guy." Why praise a man for being a politician, and doing it poorly in the bargain?

Posted by MarkBrunson at Saturday, 11 June 2011 at 5:49am BST

"claw back some moral capital after some shabby episodes" - John

Yes, John, isn't this the Church's job to claim the moral high ground with regard to the most disadvantaged in society? And yes, it does begin to redress some of the scandals of the recent past.

"the great British public agrees with the Coalition on the problem of national indebtedness"

It is imperative therefore that the Church advocates on behalf of the victims of debt reduction given that the parties are chasing the votes of the squeezed middle in marginal constituencies.

"he should be focusing on specific injustices"

But I thought he was?

"privilege 'orthodoxy' above all else"

I think there is a subtle but crucial difference between orthodoxy and status quo. It is the latter which is being blown to smithereens, both nationally and locally in the Church, by a not so subtle alchemy combining the Southwark chairmanship with the New Statesman editorship. Everything's up for grabs now.

Posted by A J Barford at Saturday, 11 June 2011 at 7:26am BST
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