ABC discusses his decision, also more reactions

UPDATED AGAIN (3:15 p.m. EDT) and AGAIN at 4:15 p.m. EDT below

UPDATED: (see below) From the Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop Rowan Williams spoke to the Press Association following the announcement that he will step down from the office of Archbishop of Canterbury at the end of December 2012 to take up the position of Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge.



Transcript at website.

More news and reactions (see earlier story on Episcopal Café for first news.)

Statement from the No Anglican Covenant Coalition:

COALITION STATEMENT ON THE RETIREMENT ARCHBISHOP ROWAN WILLIAMS

LONDON – The No Anglican Covenant Coalition wishes to thank Archbishop Rowan Williams for his tireless commitment to unity in the Anglican Communion across these difficult ten years. We share with him hope that we will achieve greater love towards one another in the Communion and that we might be enriched by our links across the world.

We wish him every blessing in the next phase of his work as Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, and will keep him, Jane and the children in our prayers as they make this transition.

The No Anglican Covenant Coalition is an international group of Anglicans concerned about how the proposed Anglican Covenant would radically change the nature of the Anglican Communion.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori's statement on the resignation, from the Office of Public Affairs:

I am grateful for Rowan Williams’ service as Archbishop of Canterbury during an exceedingly challenging season. We can all give thanks for his erudition and persistence in seeking reconciliation across a rapidly changing Anglican Communion. His leadership of that reconciling work through Indaba and Ubuntu is bearing remarkable fruit, and I believe this will be his most important legacy. I give thanks that his spiritual and intellectual gifts will continue to bless the larger world, albeit from a different vantage point. May the coming months bring well-deserved peace to him and his family, and may we join in blessing his ministry. ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!’

Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks statement
Archbishop Rowan has served his office, and the Church of England, with great distinction, integrity, courage and grace. It has been an honour to work alongside him over the past decade and I consider it a particular privilege to call him not just a valued colleague in faith, but a true friend.

The personal bond we have built and sustained over many years has been a source of strength and a symbol of how people of different faiths can come together as strangers and part as friends.

I thank Archbishop Rowan for the kindness and friendship he has shown to the Jewish community in Britain. I congratulate him on his long and distinguished service to the Church and to the country and wish him and Jane continued blessings for the future.


Tributes are flowing in from around the Anglican Communion according to the Anglican Communion News Service. Including:
Statement by The Most Revd Dr Thabo C Makgoba, Archbishop of Cape Town,
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National Cathedral Responds to Archbishop of Canterbury’s Intended Resignation
Washington, D.C.—The Rev. Dr. Francis H. Wade, interim dean of Washington National Cathedral,
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The Archbishop of Armagh, and Primate of All Ireland, the Most Revd Alan Harper pays tribute to the Archbishop of Canterbury on the announcement of his resignation
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Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori
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Statement from the Right Reverend Dr Gregory K Cameron, Bishop of St Asaph Formerly Chaplain to Archbishop Rowan Williams, while Archbishop of Wales
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Bishop James Jones pays tribute to The Archbishop of Canterbury

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The most able Archbishop of Canterbury for centuries” – Archbishop of Wales, Dr. Barry Morgan pays tribute to Dr Rowan Williams

From the Washington Post adds comments by: Rod Thomas, chairman of Reform, a group of conservative evangelicals in the Church of England:

[he] expressed appreciation for William’s courtesy to all sides, but said his departure poses an opportunity to find someone to heal the divisions.

“What is needed is someone who will hold firm to Biblical truth in areas such as human sexuality in order to promote the gospel and unite the church in the face of militant secularism,” Thomas said.

UPDATE 3:15 EDT
From the BBC, Mixed Reactions.

From The Guardian:

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.

Anglicans of a more liberal stripe have been outraged – not least because many of them had cast the archbishop in their own image, failing to realise that his aim was to be a good chairman, fair to all sides, rather than a campaigner. (This explains his efforts, also deplored by many liberals, to provide legal safeguards for traditionalists who cannot accept the ministrations of women bishops.)

But the argument against the covenant is nevertheless fair. (ed. bold) Opponents describe it as an authoritarian measure at odds with traditional church polity. So far it has been supported in more conservative parts of the communion, especially Africa and Asia, but rejected elsewhere. If the Church of England itself refuses to endorse the covenant, the plan will probably be doomed.

I do not think that Williams is to blame for this. Perhaps the differences of view between liberals and conservatives are irreconcilable. Long before he announced his intention to bow out, many were asking whether a man of such evident godliness and erudition had the stomach for so political a job. It is true that Cambridge will probably provide a better fit for Williams's many gifts. But leading the second-most international church on earth, yet with scarcely any executive power, is exceptionally onerous. Could anyone else have done better? I doubt it.

UPDATE 4:15 p.m. EDT
From President of the House of Deputies Dr. Bonnie Anderson:

Archbishop Rowan is a kind and generous man, who faced an overwhelming challenge in attempting to hold the Anglican Communion together during these tumultuous years. Though I was frequently disappointed at the cost he expected lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Christians to pay on behalf of the wider Communion, I was deeply impressed by his keen intellect, his pastoral manner and his fidelity to God’s mission as he perceived it. He is an excellent teacher, and a gifted writer, and I am sure that he will once again make a brilliant mark in academia. I sincerely wish this gentle spirit Godspeed.

IntegrityUSA president Caro Hall Statement:
"When he was elected we had high hopes that Rowan Williams would be willing to take a bold stand on LGBT inclusion. Those hopes were dashed almost immediately when he bowed to conservative pressure and forced Jeffrey John, an English gay man in a celibate relationship, to step down from his nominations as Bishop of Reading. We were also disappointed by his failure to respect Episcopal Church polity and his failure to invite and welcome the Right Reverend V. Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire, to the 2008 Lambeth Conference of Bishops. In his attempts to keep everyone at the table, Williams has proved more willing to listen to conservative than to liberal voices, even though his own theological position is more progressive."

"I certainly admire his ability to stay in this position for a decade. To be called to leadership in the middle of rapid and contentious change is never easy and Williams has been the target for acrimonious letters and emails since he was first elected.

Comments (28)

Archbishop Williams, whether loved or vilified, has increasingly appeared out of step with the Church of England and realities in the Anglican Communion. The Anglican Covenant is almost certainly dead in the water in the Church of England. Similarly, the Church of England is moving, albeit at a glacial pace, toward authorizing women bishops but rejecting the plan endorsed by Archbishop Williams. In other words, on the two highest profile public issues, the Church of England appears poised to give Williams a double rebuff.

As I’ve previous argued (e.g., http://blog.ethicalmusings.com/2010/12/women-bishops-and-church-of-england.html), the Anglican Communion has already, de facto, split. When Bishops refuse to attend the Lambeth Conference because they do not want to share in worship with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the central symbol of Anglican unity, then schism has occurred.

In sum, it’s time for Archbishop Williams to step aside; he, sadly, can no longer provide effective leadership for the Church of England or the Anglican Communion. I applaud his wisdom and courage in taking this step.

Archbishop Williams, whether loved or vilified, has increasingly appeared out of step with the Church of England and realities in the Anglican Communion. The Anglican Covenant is almost certainly dead in the water in the Church of England. Similarly, the Church of England is moving, albeit at a glacial pace, toward authorizing women bishops but rejecting the plan endorsed by Archbishop Williams. In other words, on the two highest profile public issues, the Church of England appears poised to give Williams a double rebuff.

As I’ve previous argued (e.g., http://blog.ethicalmusings.com/2010/12/women-bishops-and-church-of-england.html), the Anglican Communion has already, de facto, split. When Bishops refuse to attend the Lambeth Conference because they do not want to share in worship with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the central symbol of Anglican unity, then schism has occurred.

In sum, it’s time for Archbishop Williams to step aside; he, sadly, can no longer provide effective leadership for the Church of England or the Anglican Communion. I applaud his wisdom and courage in taking this step.

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.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Thank you, Kurt, for those comments. I find the Anglican "Communion" to be an outdated post-colonial hierarchy. How useful is it, really? The primary instrument of unity is a person selected by a committee formed by the Prime Minister and chosen by the Queen of England. How is that relevant to US Episcopalians? The schism has happened; Christ's work would be easier if this was accepted and TEC could move forward. I, too, think Episcopalians could be working more productively with full-communion partners than fighting other members of the Anglican "Communion"--and its own church.

Joe Brewer

I know that more than once during his tenure, I've angrily demanded "Rowan resign!"

Today however, all I can muster is a "To everything, there is a season..."

JC Fisher

Some of the comments about Archbishop Rowan are so petty and unnecessary. I don't blame him for going to the greener pastures of academia. God speed,Archbishop Rowan.

Nicole P.

Thanks for commenting Nicole P. = please sign your whole name next time. ~ed.

No problem. I believe he has done everything he could in his position that is largely symbolic. Besides, anyone who bothers the far right AND the far left is a good fit for me.

-Nicole Porter

The Washington Post adds comments by: Rod Thomas, chairman of Reform, a group of conservative evangelicals in the Church of England:

"[he] expressed appreciation for William’s courtesy to all sides, but said his departure poses an opportunity to find someone to heal the divisions.

“What is needed is someone who will hold firm to Biblical truth in areas such as human sexuality in order to promote the gospel and unite the church in the face of militant secularism,” Thomas said."

Rod Thomas has already decided what it will take to "heal" the divisions, someone who believes just as he does and who will tell the rest of us where to go. There is no possible healing in that recipe.

Bro. David
KONY 2012

I agree with Mr.Thomas. With all due respect, the things that have taken place in our church since 2003 have not been helping. There are quite a few that have already said that healing the division would require we break off with Canterbury once and for all. An extreme position if you ask me.

-Nicole Porter

I agree with Nicole - whoever fights to keep a middle ground is a good archbishop. I feel he went a little too much to the right with glbt issues, sadly. Still, I wish him well.

Also, how is the ABC elected. What is the process?

Eric

Here is the procedure. From our earlier story.

Oops! Sorry Ann.

Eric

I think the Integrity response sums up how I feel about the ABC. I wish him well, but am very nervous about who may be his successor.

Eric

Hard to keep track of it all Eric.

You are sending mixed messages Eric!

You state that you agree with Nicole. Nicole states that she agrees with Rod Thomas. Rod Thomas is a spokesperson for Reform a group of Church of England members seeking to reform the Church of England. Among the beliefs that Reform affirms are these;

• The unique value of women's ministry in the local congregation but also the divine order of male headship, which makes the headship of women as priests in charge, incumbents, dignitaries and bishops inappropriate.

• The rightness of sexual intercourse in heterosexual marriage, and the wrongness of such activity both outside it and in all its homosexual forms.

By your affirmation of Nicole, who affirms Rod Thomas, you are stating that you support these anti-gay and anti-women's ordination stances.

Bro. David
KONY 2012

Having looked at the process, I think it will be interesting to note two appointments to the Nominating Commission: first, the member of the House of Bishops elected from that House; and second, the member of the Primates Council, elected by the Standing Commission of the Communion. I don't know that those appointments will indicate a direction, but I think they will be interesting to see.

Marshall Scott

Of course, it is absolute coincidence that the ABC's resignation comes a day after the announcement in the UK that the government may back same-gender marriage. It is a further coincidence -- shocking indeed -- that the news comes as the Covenant, which some contend was implicitly requested by Pope Benedict, goes down in flames.

My hope is that the Crown, which exercises little legal authority but not inconsequential persuasive authority, will work with others to name a candidate who fosters goodwill and reconciliation. If that does not occur, we may well see the end of the Anglican Communion in its present form.

Eric Bonetti

To clarify: I agreed with Thomas' statement on human sexuality,the statement that was posted, not his views on women's ordination of which I know many great priests who are women who would make good bishops one day. Don't assume that because someone agrees with something a person says that they automatically bought the entire farm of their views. Very poor assumption.

-Nicole Porter

Now we better understand that you are poorly educated in scripture and heterosexist, but not misogynist.

Bro. David
KONY 2012

I would think that comment you just made wouldn't be allowed to be posted. I'm not here for a debate.


-Nicole Porter

It is obvious to the casual reader that very few folks who comment here share your views on what scripture does or does not state regarding human sexuality, what the church should or should not teach about it or the stances that the church should or should not take regarding human sexuality. Why then would you be posting your views, if not to provoke some response?

Bro. David
KONY 2012

Because others have a right to share how they feel in a respectful manner regardless of how the majority feels? As an Episcopalian, you should very well know that we're not all on the same page. So you're going to hear and see people that disagree every so often. I would think everyone can agree that you can control what you type and think before you press the submit button,right?

-Nicole Porter

Actually, as an Anglican I know that not all are on the same page. This blog has an international readership, we are not all members of TEC. And I personally know how dangerous your beliefs are to the rest of us, so be prepared for me to always call a spade a spade. English is not my first language, so I am not aware of a more respectful manner in which to state your beliefs. Most commenters may be aware that the stated purpose of Reform and Rod Thomas is to return the Church of England to an imagined once glorious past when faulty misinterpretation of scripture, heterosexism and misogyny reined. But I think it important to point it out to the few who may not be aware of that. It seemed likely Eric did not. You have stated that you agree with Mr. Thomes.

However, at this point I fear this is wearisome to others, so I withdraw from further comment with you on this thread.

Bro. David
KONY 2012

There's no such thing as "respectful" homophobia, Nicole, sorry.

"Not on the same page": which page would that be? The pages of the civil laws in most states, which declare me a second class citizen? The pages of C&C (and BCP) of TEC, by which I am second-class Imago Dei?

Polite rules re agreement & disagreement assume EQUALITY of the dialogue participants. Since I'm NOT equal in the eyes of civil & ecclesial authorities, I TAKE the liberty to be impolite (as I deem fit) to those who just want to "share how they feel" from on high (their height being about the difference of my neck they're standing on). "[P]ress the submit button": yes, I see that's what you're after. And No, by Christ who strengthens me, I WON'T submit.

JC Fisher

My apologies Bro.David, I should have said Anglican instead. As for you JC, I honor your right to your opinion.

Above comment is from Nicole Porter.

-Nicole Porter

Bro David and JCF -please state your beliefs without attacking other commenters.


Speaking as editor du jour.

Moderation noted---but I do not believe I attacked anyone (rather, "Speaking truth to power-over").

However, as calm Christian contemplation is always a plus, I will withdraw from this thread to do so.

JC Fisher

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