Comments: Williams to quit?

Enough qualifications such as 'it is understood', but I doubt Wynne-Jones would say this much without a basis. Of course, folks from England would know more about Wynne-Jones' reliability than I.

Posted by Grandmère Mimi at Saturday, 10 September 2011 at 11:09pm BST

It is friends of friends and the usual gossip shop that provides anything wanted. It's the Telegraph agenda about female bishops.

What will unseat Williams is the (unmentioned) Covenant going wrong. It is starting to go wrong, but he might still force it through the Church of England. If the female bishops thing doesn't quite make it, there would be more resistance to the Covenant, given it is likely to make any progressive change more difficult in the future.

Anyway, the blog world can wake up. Journalists have their uses.

http://pluralistspeaks.blogspot.com/2011/09/do-go-but-its-just-rumour.html

Posted by Pluralist at Sunday, 11 September 2011 at 1:31am BST

Tom Wright for ABC!!!!!!

Posted by thurifer at Sunday, 11 September 2011 at 1:50am BST

From Episcopal Cafe, a welcome reminder to always consider the source.
http://www.episcopalcafe.com/lead/archbishop_of_canterbury/rowan_williams_stepping_down_s.html

Posted by Jersey at Sunday, 11 September 2011 at 2:28am BST

If this is true, I think it would be good for Rowan to leave and allow for a new candidate who will hopefully be a progressive who can lead with backbone while offering a voice for women, the glbt communities and all of those who have been disenfranchised from the Church. I wish Rowan Williams well but we need a leader who will stand up for those whose voices have not been heard. The last thing we need is a Fundamentalist.

Posted by Chris Smith at Sunday, 11 September 2011 at 3:07am BST

I do hope JW-J is mistaken. Cambridge already has quite enough subtle professors of theology who can elegantly and ingeniously dispute the number of angels on a pinhead. Archbishop Rowan is needed at the head of the Church. Nobody is under any illusions that Williams loves his job, but I pray that he won't be tempted to take his hand from the plough - especially if our lovely bishops are trying to wheel in the Archbishop of York as some kind of anointed dauphain. Anyone who is disappointed by Rowan Williams is unlikely to be impressed by John Sentamu.

On the bright side, the comments section of the Telegraph once again provides a fascinating window into the opinions of middle England circa. 1954.

Posted by rjb at Sunday, 11 September 2011 at 7:24am BST

Following on from Jersey's comments, some parts of this sound implausible, e.g. "He would have just as good a chance of becoming archbishop given his connection with the royal family, but the only problem is his opposition to women's ordination." Connections with the royal family might have been an important factor in selecting the Archbishop of Canterbury two or three centuries ago, but this does not ring true today.

It is possible that some other senior clergy, noticing Rowan's distress at the church politics surrounding him, have suggested that he has done his stint and could return to academia if he wants without feeling guilty. I daresay he himself quite frequently considers quitting a highly stressful position, though whether he will do so next year in another matter. But I have no inside knowledge. For the time being, I shall take such 'leaks' with a large dose of salt!

Posted by Savi Hensman at Sunday, 11 September 2011 at 10:20am BST

I can quite understand why Archbishop Rowan might be looking forward to a return to academic life. His time as ABC, which began with such hope from the Affirming Catholic viewpoint, has been besieged by outright rebellion against his considered liberal stance on women and gays.

Since his first efforts as a Bishop of the Church to bring enlightenment on these issues, Provinces in the Global South and elsewhere - hell-bent on persecuting the policy of inclusiveness so boldly undertaken by the likes of our sisters and brothers in the Church in North America - have gritted their teeth in an effort to kick them out of the Communion, while at the same time criticising Rowan for not whole-heartedly rallying to their cause.

They will be glad to hear of Rowan's retirement, because they will do their damnedest to have him replaced with one of their own ilk. Fortunately, the likes of Scott-Joynt, Nazir-Ali and Wright have faded from the scene; but make no mistake, the conservative homophobes and misogynists will push their own candidate for all they're worth. The Communion may end up in a much worse position - regarding Gospel liberality - than we seem to be in at present. I feel for Rowan & pray for him!

If the premier position in the Communion comes up for grabs, my vote (if I had one) would go to the Primate of TEC, Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 11 September 2011 at 12:04pm BST

A few things to note. RW became Archbishop of Canterbury at a younger age than all his immediate predecessors (52 as opposed to 56 (Carey), 59 (Runcie), 65 (Coggan), 57 (Ramsey), 58 (Fisher)). Thus he would have had much longer in the chair of Augustine if he went on to retirement age. About a decade seems about right and matches Carey and Runcie. He might well have had enough.

Second, it is difficult to spot what kind of job an Archbishop aged 62 could go on to. However, being Master of Trinity (which is a Crown appointment) seems one such job.

Posted by Wilf at Sunday, 11 September 2011 at 12:42pm BST

The Archbishop of Canterbury to retire! "I don't believe it!" Where's your stamina Rowan? Of course, the rot set in when Archbishop Randall Davidson was the first Cantuar to retire - his predecessors having died in office. Davidson gave up the post after a mere 25 years in office when he was only 80 years of age.

Posted by Father David at Sunday, 11 September 2011 at 8:09pm BST

I think it's a reasonable guess.

If he is not staying to see through a second Lambeth Conference (and he could), then next year gives his successor the time to plan the conference he would want.

I believe that was one of the strongest reasons behind the timing of Carey's resignation - and he was enjoying the job and didn't want to go.

When he was first appointed I remember Rowan's chaplain pointing out he could do two Lambeths - as I remember his view at the time was ten years at that job was enough for anyone!

Also, as I remember it - the bishop of London ruled himself out last time.


Posted by Martin Reynolds at Sunday, 11 September 2011 at 9:30pm BST

Can someone in England remind me how much influence the Prime Minister has, under the current dispensation, on the selection of the next Archbishop of Canterbury? I've a feeling this have changed in the past few years but I can't remember the details.

Posted by Gerry Lynch at Sunday, 11 September 2011 at 10:22pm BST

The rumour of +Rowan's retirement together with a subsequent Cambridge appointment has been doing the rounds for some time (I think I first heard it back in June).

What is new about Jon Wynne-Jones' story is the reporting of Chartres' manoeuvrings behind the scenes. J W-J is normally a very careful fact checker so I would be more inclined to believe at least that he has a good source he trusts, and that Chartres' subsequent denials (The Guardian is an odd vehicle for his denial) are questionable.

Posted by Doug Chaplin at Sunday, 11 September 2011 at 10:41pm BST

I have the highest respect for Rowan Williams' spirituality and while I have read nothing to suggest he is proposing to retire, if he did, then I'm not sure a further 'career' or endless theology in academia would become his life goal.

Given his acute feel for contemplative spirituality (for example the carmelite tradition and his writing on Teresa de Avila) I would be inclined to think that a life after episcopacy would incline towards deepening prayer.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Sunday, 11 September 2011 at 10:44pm BST

I think it will be a great tragedy if the present Archbishop of Canterbury is replaced by a Fundamentalist or an Evangelical. That will most probably be the end of Anglicanism.

Most things in Nature regress towards the Mean which means God is very fair and gives creatures a good chance for survival. The best thing to do is to be a Latitudinarian or a Broad Anglican. High and Low are extremes on the right and the left. Neither of them have peace and are are always at war over something or other.

For Latitudinarians, common sense is the "candle of the Lord" and is founded on our rich tradition of Scriptures, Tradidion and Reason. All three are equally important for a healthy life.

Posted by CP36 at Monday, 12 September 2011 at 2:11am BST

"Also as I remember it - the bishop of London ruled himself out last time."
Mr. Reynolds - I don't recall that there was any ruling out on the part of the Bishop of London as far as the see of Canterbury was concerned a decade ago! I do have a vague recollection that + Richard Londin may have expressed a willingness to revise his views on the ordination of women when Dr. Carey announced his own premature retirement. I also recall that Dr. Chartres stated that he had in effect, in being Domestic Chaplain to Dr. Runcie, already done the job! Indeed many of Archbishop Runcie's finest words were the product of Richard Chartres. However, his own mighty word at the recent Royal Wedding shews that he would be very well suited to once again becoming Archbishop of Canterbury. The ambition of an Archdeacon Grantly is still to be found within the Established Church. But beware -
don't believe all that one reads in the pages of the Jupiter.

Posted by Father David at Monday, 12 September 2011 at 5:35am BST

I woiuldn't be at all suprised that when Rowan retires he jumps ship to Rome. However not the Anglo-catholic theme park of the Ordinariate though.

Posted by Robert ian Williams at Monday, 12 September 2011 at 7:36am BST

Chartres will be 65 next year, a little old to take on a new job. Sentamu will be 62 but after his recent spell in hospital may be advised against it.

Posted by simon at Monday, 12 September 2011 at 11:50am BST

Gerry Lynch asks about the influence of the Prime Minister. To a certain extent there are shifting sands here as the previous PM (Brown) tried to reduce his role further than his predecessors have.

Currently for each diocesan vacancy a Crown Nominations Commission is put together with six permanent members elected by General Synod, two Archbishops and six members elected from the diocese. In the case of a vacancy in the See of Canterbury the Archbishop of York is joined by a bishop elected from among the bishops of the Province of Canterbury (obviously one who doesn't fancy the job himself) and there is a lay chairman appointed by the Crown. Last time this lay chairman was Lady Butler-Sloss, a senior judge.

In the last 9 months interviewing has been brought in for Diocesan Appointments.

The CNC then actually votes and the names of a first choice and a reserve candidate (in case the first choice says 'no') are sent off to Downing Street. The Prime Minister can reject the names, although this would be constitutionally awkward, and he can seek to influence the process via his Appointments Secretary who is present, but his influence is, in reality, negligible.

Posted by Wilf at Monday, 12 September 2011 at 12:29pm BST

On the matter of Rowan Williams contemplating hanging up his skates, "At this moment, the laurel bush, which had hitherto not spoken, said "Psst! ...who will be the next Archbishop? " My apologies to PG Wodehouse,

Posted by Rod Gillis at Monday, 12 September 2011 at 1:41pm BST

"I don't recall that there was any ruling out on the part of the Bishop of London as far as the see of Canterbury was concerned a decade ago! "
wrote Father David on Monday, 12 September 2011 at 5:35am BST

As I have said my memory is that (at some stage in the proceedings) he asked that his name be not considered.

For those wanting some background on this man there was a piece back nine years ago that I thought very interesting then:
http://www.stgeorgescathedral.com/sermons/chartres.html

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Monday, 12 September 2011 at 9:19pm BST

"You cannot hope to bribe or twist . . ."

Posted by Steve Lusk at Tuesday, 13 September 2011 at 1:05am BST

CP36 said, "I think it will be a great tragedy if the present Archbishop of Canterbury is replaced by a Fundamentalist or an Evangelical. That will most probably be the end of Anglicanism."

Why?

Anglicanism is a loose family of independent churches. It is also a way of thinking.

One Archbishop of Canterbury, no matter how fundamentalist or evangelical, can do very little to destroy either.

Posted by Jeremy at Tuesday, 13 September 2011 at 1:30am BST

If, as now seems to be the case, prospective candidates are formally interviewed (a recent innovation) for vacant diocesan bishoprics - shouldn't the diocesan vacancies now be properly advertised?
Oh for the good old days when the Prime Minister, after taking soundings, presented the names of future bishops to the Crown for approval without all this modern day faff! The old system, after all, gave us the greatest of the 20th century Archbishops - Michael Ramsey when Harold MacMillan refused to allow Geoffrey Fisher to be his "headmaster" in dictating the choice of his successor. As Macmillan so wisely said at the time - "we had had enough of Martha it was time for some Mary".

Posted by Father David at Tuesday, 13 September 2011 at 5:42am BST

+ Nick Baines (in York for the C of E House of Bishops meeting) and reporter in question JW-J have been involved in a little 'interaction' in the comments section over at + Nick's blog
http://nickbaines.wordpress.com/2011/09/12/game-off/#comments

Posted by Ben at Tuesday, 13 September 2011 at 9:32am BST

"As I have said my memory is that (at some stage in the proceedings) he (i.e. Richard Chartres) asked that his name be not considered."
It seems to me that the link which Martin Reynolds kindly provides giving some background to the life of the present Bishop of London gives an opposing view when it states:- "As far as the prospect of him going to Canterbury, he is sceptical without ruling it out." Is Mr. Reynolds perhaps confusing the Bishop of London with the Archbishop of York who, as I recall, definitely ruled himself out of the prospect of going to Canterbury thus assuring (with David Hope's strong backing) that the mantle of George Carey fell upon the shoulders of Rowan Williams?

Posted by Father David at Tuesday, 13 September 2011 at 10:15am BST

>>Anglicanism is a loose family of independent churches. It is also a way of thinking.

Agreed it is a way of thinking and a method of living. The Archbishop of Canterbury is not just a clergyman. Besides the Pope he is the only other Christian leader to whom the goverments of the world or the UN will pay some attention. He has done and is doing good in the world and I doubt a mere clergyman will be able to do what he is doing. So who occupies the Chair of the Archbishop of Canterbury is important. I am sure all of us have had enough of clergymen who can just quote the Bible. Fundamentalists and Evangelicals don't seem to care much about this world because they are too heavenly minded. So I wish this present Archbishop of Canterbury will not resign. The world needs him. Nevermind if the Church doesn't.

Posted by CP36 at Tuesday, 13 September 2011 at 2:19pm BST

The elephant is the room (to use a horrid cliche) is surely the man who didn't get it last time. That would not merely be another nail in the coffin of the CofE but a stake through its heart.

Posted by cryptogram at Tuesday, 13 September 2011 at 4:54pm BST

Cryptogram is certainly cryptic. There were 44 English diocesan bishops and about 30 million other British men who didn't get it last time. Which one do you mean?

Posted by Wilf at Tuesday, 13 September 2011 at 8:41pm BST

Wilf hasn't quite got the arcane arrangements for a Canterbury CNC right. The Prime Minister continues to appoint a person to preside, who needs to be an actual communicant lay member of the Church of England (something I tried to change on the floor of the General Synod, now that the Prime Minister adopts the new convention of accepting the preferred candidate of the CNC) and who is a voting member. Two additional members join a Canterbury CNC, one of the members of the Primates Meeting of the Anglican Communion elected by the Joint Standing Committee and the ACC, who is a voting member, and the Secretary-General of the Anglican Communion who joins as a non-voting member. +Cantuar does not attend (obviously) and his place is taken by a bishop elected by the House of Bishops (who need not be from the Province of Canterbury). If the continuing archbishop (+Ebor) chooses not to attend the Commission, the House of Bishops merely elects a second person in episcopal orders. There are therefore 16 voting members on a Canterbury CNC out of a total of 17 members, excluding the two secretaries (an increase of three). It would be an interesting question as to whether a future Canterbury CNC decided to interview candidates. I do not believe this is mandatory and assuming all candidates were existing diocesan bishops of the Church of England (which might not be the case) interviewing might be deemed unnecessary. Whenever the next Canterbury vacancy occurs, there will be great pressure on the CNC to get its work done. The unedifying leaks last time only occured because the process became so attentuated.

Posted by Anthony Archer at Tuesday, 13 September 2011 at 11:06pm BST

"Anglicanism is a loose family of independent churches. It is also a way of thinking. -
One Archbishop of Canterbury, no matter how fundamentalist or evangelical, can do very little to destroy either."

- Jeremy - on Tuesday -

Well, Jeremy, there's one Archbishop of Canterbury - George Carey - who came pretty close, especially after Lambeth 1:10.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 14 September 2011 at 12:22am BST

CP36 said, "He has done and is doing good in the world."

In what way is the good that Dr. Rowan Williams has done related to his role as Archbishop of Canterbury? And in what way has the good that the Archbishop of Canterbury can do in the world related to the fact that recently that Archbishop has been Rowan Williams?

In other words, what has he done, while Archbishop, that he could not do, were he to step down? And what has he done, while Archbishop, that no other Archbishop of Canterbury would do in that role?

Don't confuse the man with the role. The man was a scholar and writer before he was Archbishop. He can be so again after he retires.

Similarly, things like the Compass Rose Society existed, and did good works, before this Archbishop came along, and they will after he is gone.

What has this person uniquely done with this office that would make anyone wish for his continuation in it?

Posted by Jeremy at Wednesday, 14 September 2011 at 1:55am BST

Good Lord, deliver us from the arcane and attenuated arrangements described by Anthony Archer to select the next Cantuar - positively Byzantine. How much simpler things were pre-Callaghan. If the members of the Canterbury CNC do decide that they wish to interview prospective candidates for the vacant Archiepiscopacy then I look forward to seeing the advertisement for the position of Archbishop of Canterbury in a future edition of the Church Times when Rowan eventually confirmes that he is resigning the post next year.

Posted by Father David at Wednesday, 14 September 2011 at 7:50am BST

Simon tells us that "Chartres will be 65 next year, a little old to take on a new job". Well how old was Donald Coggan when he took over as Cantuar from Blessed Michael Ramsey? 65 - no less! Coggan wasn't too old to make striking initiatives when on a visit to Rome in 1977 he called for full intercommunion between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church. It was said at the time that even the ladies of the night in the Eternal City were shocked at Coggan's proposal.

Posted by Father David at Wednesday, 14 September 2011 at 9:19am BST

Richard Chartres is 65 next year (2012) so he would normally retire in 2017. The next Lambeth Conference is in 2018 presumably...odd to have an ABC retiring a year before the Conference or having to stay one year beyond the retirement date to preside over it and then go...The fact surely is that there is no obvious successor to + Rowan at the moment on the English bench and a substantial number of retirements in the pipe line from 2012...good reason for him to stay on at least til he is 65.

Posted by Perry Butler at Wednesday, 14 September 2011 at 2:18pm BST

My last post seems to have vanished into TA limbo.

Still, I was only saying again to Father David what I had repeated before and reminding him that although I came across this this Guardian feature during the run-up to Rowan's nomination, it had in fact been written nearly two years before - and much changes in that time!

I can only reiterate that the story in Newport was that Chartres' aspirations perished by his own hand - possibly as Tutu would have it because there was a candidate "head and shoulders" above the rest - ooh! that didn't go down well in some places!!.

Anything is possible and I am sure that the bishop of London would make a very noble ABC, but as I have argued - Rowan is likely to go soon to give his successor a chance at making the next Lambeth Conference his own. By my calculations the bishop of London would be over 71 when we reach the next Lambeth, so ........ well Father David you make of it what you will.

I was also posting this interesting article - 9 years old - relating to the above quote that gives an interesting perspective on all that has happened since, Tutu and Kolini especially:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2002/06_june/11/newsnight_tutu.shtml

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Wednesday, 14 September 2011 at 5:06pm BST

Wilf wonders to whom I refer. If I must spell it out, though I would have thought most people will have found it a less cryptic allusion than he does, his ex-Lordship of Rochester.

Posted by cryptogram at Wednesday, 14 September 2011 at 5:35pm BST

@ cryptogram: God forbid.

Posted by Sara MacVane at Wednesday, 14 September 2011 at 6:43pm BST

Martin Reynolds last posting reminds me of nothing more than what Winston Churchill said when nominating William Temple to the see of Canterbury - "The only half-crown item in a sixpenny bazaar".

Posted by Father David at Wednesday, 14 September 2011 at 7:15pm BST

Father David's last post reminded me of this review of Rupert Shortt's small book on Rowan Williams. Here Damian Thompson's analytical skill and deep knowledge of the machinations of churchmen shine out brilliantly - sadly these outstanding qualities are all too often eclipsed by a dark cloud of venom.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/3600247/The-only-half-crown-item-in-a-sixpenny-bazaar.html

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Wednesday, 14 September 2011 at 11:17pm BST

>>In what way is the good that Dr. Rowan Williams has done related to his role as Archbishop of Canterbury?

As far as I know he is the only Christian world leader who is in the good books of the Muslim world. He has an unusual ablity to manoeuvre himself among them to say what he wants to say without offending them. I don't believe there is any other Archbishop anywhere who can do that. I have seen him in action in a conference and I understand that conference was organised by the Muslims. He was really good. As for the other Archibishops I think all they can do is to quote the Bible. I am sure many of us have enough of that. We can read the Bible ourselves. I want somebody who is brilliant and can contribute to the solutions of real world problems so that we can have some peace in this world. The Archbishop of Canterbury is a political figure and if he steps down he will loose that status and will no longer be able to command the respect of world leaders. The problem with Evangelicals is they think God is only interested in the Church. I don't think so. After Christ, he is interested in the whole world. He cares for all people.

Posted by CP36 at Thursday, 15 September 2011 at 2:09am BST

Has not My Lord, the former Bishop of Rochester, already burnt his boats in the Church of England and moved into ACNA Teritory? He is at least 'person grata' and extremely close to that schismatic sect.

In view of the possibility of the prospective cozying-up of a Covenant relationship between consenting Provinces; would the next Appointment of Primus-inter-pares be more pragmatically sought from among Bishops of the whole Communion? Only asking!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 15 September 2011 at 11:17am BST

Martin Reynold's interesting article from 2002 flags up the anomaly that although the Archbishop of Canterbury is regarded as being a (quasi?) titular head (or shepherd or overseer or focal point) for the whole Anglican Communion, contenders from all the other countries of the Communion have never been selected for this position.

This does convey an assumption of privilege in a way, and it would not be impossible to devise an arrangement where oversight for the Church of England was handed to a second primate (to ensure the self-determination of the province) while making a hugely positive signal to the Communion as a whole by appointing someone from outside England, to take the focal lead role for the Communion as a whole.

It just seems rather strange to me that in the Anglican Communion worldwide, the perceived leadership is always an Englishman, which - setting aside the sexist concerns that raises - seems to perpetuate colonial traditions and nuance, and somehow seem dismissive of the huge talent and gifts we might find elsewhere.

Lastly, I personally would prefer Rowan to stay in post, but after he finally goes, why should we not seek prayerfully for a spiritual and profound leader from any of the provinces? It could be structured so that direct jurisdiction/oversight in England falls to a different person.

But the role and title of Archbishop of Canterbury seems wider-ranging than simply England.

Not that I'd care to take on that role: it is such a complex, difficult and demanding task.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Thursday, 15 September 2011 at 2:37pm BST

"In what way is the good that Dr. Rowan Williams has done related to his role as Archbishop of Canterbury?"

For us Roman Catholics, Rowan Williams is the man who put Anglicanism on the map. The Pope is eating out of his hand. When he goes, the C of E will sink back into grey.

"And in what way has the good that the Archbishop of Canterbury can do in the world related to the fact that recently that Archbishop has been Rowan Williams?"

No doubt all ABC's do a lot of good, but very few of them capture the ear and imagination of the public as RW has done.

Posted by Spirit of Vatican II at Thursday, 15 September 2011 at 6:06pm BST

"Well, Jeremy, there's one Archbishop of Canterbury - George Carey - who came pretty close, especially after Lambeth 1:10."

Father Ron, don't you think that remains to be seen? And if George Carey did come pretty close, surely he has had an assist from the present incumbent.

Posted by Jeremy at Friday, 16 September 2011 at 4:11am BST

re: advertisements for episcopal vacancies in England

Although these do not yet occur as such, the rules do include a 'national announcement in the church press' inviting people to 'submit comments and possible names to the Appointments Secretaries'. And 'the names submitted are circulated to all members of the Crown Nominations Commission'

See the official briefing paper sent to members of the CNC and to be found at
http://www.churchofengland.org/media/35871/dbnom3.pdf

The process for other senior clergy is documented at
http://www.churchofengland.org/clergy-office-holders/asa/senappt.aspx

and does include advertisements and self-applications.

Posted by Simon Kershaw at Friday, 16 September 2011 at 11:18pm BST

Its difficult to see any re-structuring of the position of the Archbishop of Canterbury taking place all the time the C of E remains the Established Church.For better or worse the ABC has distinct place within the english constitutional set up, in relation to the monarchy and so on.I imagine they must be a British Citizen.None of this is likely to change quickly. Fiddling about with the C of E's established status is not something the Government or Parliament are keen to do at the best of times...in the current political and economic situation there is no likelihood; the next ABC will be from the UK and almost certainly an English Diocesan Bishop. But it may be that over the next decade or so the AC unravels and becomes a looser arrangement. More important that the ABC remains Primate of All England in my view.

Posted by Perry Butler at Saturday, 17 September 2011 at 1:01pm BST
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