Rowan Williams profiled

As his sabbatical came to a close, the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke with the National Catholic Reporter, an American publication. He is the NCR's cover story for its September 14th issue:

On Sept. 3 Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams came back from study leave to face the music. The primate of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion does not want to go down in history as the archbishop who presided over the disintegration of that communion.
As he looks forward, the archbishop hopes against hope. He pauses for thought before he replies to questions, his eyes reflective under the bushy eyebrows. Then out comes his response, perfectly phrased, highly nuanced, each sentence proceeding coherently to a full stop. “The requests that have been put to the Episcopal church are of slightly different kinds. The answers are not simple black and white.” So even after the American Anglicans of the Episcopal church have declared themselves, “there will still be some discerning and sifting to do by the standing committees of our international bodies.”
Ask the archbishop whether, given the present difficulties, he does not sometimes wish in his heart of hearts for a touch of papal power and he will always say no. Then what does he think that Christian leadership consists in?

One has to look at the Gospel, he replies, to tease out the context of a concept like that. In that light, he sees his task as taking appropriate responsibility “for making things happen in the direction of God’s kingdom.” Instant results are not always to be expected. In the Anglican Communion, decisions “depend very heavily on mutual consent.” Otherwise they will not stick. He does what he can, he says, to “make a difference that shifts things slightly.”
As to the covenant, he would indeed like to see “a much greater convergence of our canon law” toward “some kind of worldwide screening process” that would make it possible to resolve any “really bad procedural blunder that caused scandal and damage to a church in a province.” But every Anglican province at present “has what is in principle a self-sufficient system of canon law.” To introduce any element into these provincial systems that gave jurisdiction elsewhere “would be a huge innovation.”
As a theologian in the 1980s Williams himself was one of those questioning the Christian tradition on homosexuality.

“I still think the points I raised were worth raising. But put them in the context of a wider discussion of the doctrine of the church and how the church makes up its mind, and it looks a little less simple.” In that context it becomes clear that “there are no arguments that are winning the majority of Christendom over to a new position” that would amend or reverse the consistently negative Christian tradition on homosexual practice. He distinguishes sharply between questions a theologian may ask and actions or decisions a church or a bishop may take.

Read it here. (Click past the subscription offer and then click on the September 14 issue cover of Williams.)

Comments (1)

Good assesment ... I found it particularly helpful because the reporter has to explain the whole picture to Catholics, who really don't know much about our church. Since most Episcopalians don't really know that much about our church, this will be helpful as I try to explain what's going on to my parish.

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