Rowan Williams: "I didn't really want to be Archbishop"

In an interview with the London Telegraph, former Archbishop of Canterbury, now Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, reflects on his archepiscopate and the freedom in his new role:

That’s an interesting reaction. Did he not want it? “The job? Hmm. Not particularly. Why would you? Yes. There was obviously a foolish, vain and immature part of me which said, 'Ooh, an important job, how very nice’. And the rest of me said, 'Come on!’ ”

So why take it? “Because, I suppose, people I trusted said, 'Give it a go’. Because if other people have done a fair bit of thinking and praying about it, I suppose you at least have to consider that it’s a calling. I went straight to my confessor when the letter came and said, 'What about it?’ The reply was, 'Go for it.’”

That suggests he did not feel a direct calling of his own. “Like quite a lot of clergy of my generation, there is an assumption that you are quite likely to hear God’s call from where the Church wants to send you. So I don’t think I’d have lost any sleep if it hadn’t happened. Certainly a lot less sleep than I lost in the job.”

Read the rest of the article from the Telegraph here.

Comments (3)

Just for the record, Rowan Williams, many suffered and even died after losing quite a lot of sleep during your term as Archbishop of Canterbury.

Anglican David Kato/Uganda comes immediately to mind as does the bloody trail of LGBTI people in Jamaica (but alas, there was no mention of them at your Lambeth/Canterbury confab or at the ACC Meeting in Kingston.

You know, +Rowan, the Lambeth Conference, the one where you made Bishop Gene Robinson an outcast when he was YOUR equal at the Anglican Communion.

Sleep tight, it surely been a bumpy ride. Poor dear.

Give it a rest, LR. Surprisingly, there are Anglicans in good standing who disagree with you about The Single Most Important Moral Issue In The History Of Christianity (According To You Anyway). And Robbie wasn't Dr. Williams equal; he was a "bishop" that the Americans imposed on the rest of the Anglican Communion. Anyway, "Anglicans" were originally anyone that the Archbishop of Canterbury decided were Anglicans.

So learn a little Anglican history, hotshot.

I don't think either of the previous commenters have it right. Who is to say that any other candidate for Archbishop of Canterbury would have done things any differently than Archbishop Rowan did them, even regarding Bishop Gene Robinson's exclusion from Lambeth? So, Leonardo, that was a pretty cheap shot at a person who I believe was attempting to do his best in an impossible situation, whatever your personal views of his choices may be.

By the same token, Christopher's dismissive "Robbie" and quotes around the title "bishop" in referring to Bishop Gene Robinson are equally petty. Gene Robinson IS a bishop, validly elected and consecrated, whatever you may think of the selection process or its result. You may not personally approve of the man, but questioning the validity of his Orders is ridiculous. The church dealt with the whole personal character vs. valid orders question centuries ago.

My own view of Archbishop Williams is that he was a mystic in a politician's job. He has a huge ability as a theologian, which is likely put to quite good use in his new position. However, his desperate desire to hold the Anglican Communion together made him all too pliable when it came to appeasing those who implored him not to invite Bishop Robinson to Lambeth. He is also handicapped, as is his successor, by the very English desire not to "make a scene." The United States, in contrast, was born of revolution and we are perhaps a little too eager to make flamboyant statements and take precipitous actions. I don't think Gene Robinson's election and consecration was one of them, however.

In response to their demands, Archbishop Rowan should have said something like this to the GAFCON bishops: "The bar to receiving communion unworthily is a bar to the person receiving, not those alongside him or her. If you choose to absent yourself from taking communion or meeting with your fellow bishops, it should only be because you personally feel unprepared to receive God's grace in that way." Instead, he refused to invite a validly consecrated bishop because he feared the consequences to the Anglican Communion. Those consequences (schism) have come to pass anyway, so all he really did was offend many. That said, I wish him well in this new position to which he is well suited.

Tom Sramek, Jr.

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