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,
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,
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
Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori
Statement from the Right Reverend Dr Gregory K Cameron, Bishop of St Asaph Formerly Chaplain to Archbishop Rowan Williams, while Archbishop of Wales
Bishop James Jones pays tribute to The Archbishop of Canterbury
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
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.
“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.