Rowan Williams in Africa – comforting the powerful?


Reinhold Niebuhr called upon preachers to “afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.” In Africa, Rowan Williams speaks to African Anglican bishops, but has missed another opportunity to live out this aphorism.

Rowan Williams speaks to African Anglican bishops and Andrew Brown comments “not exactly truth to power”:

The tank parked on Rowan’s foot

Rowan Williams speaks to the African Anglican bishops: not exactly truth to power

Andrew Brown in The Guardian

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s presence in Kampala is an occasion for diplomacy. His host, Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda, has gone further than almost any other senior Anglican in formally denouncing him as a heretic. The Ugandan church is deeply implicated in a bill that would introduce the death penalty for homosexuals. Homophobia is here a recognised tool in church intrigues: Pastor Robert Kayanja, one of the most successful prosperity gospel preachers in Kampala was last year accused of being gay by rivals who kidnapped and may have tortured one of his assistants to prove this.

And has this response to Williams’ talk in Africa:

“If Moses has the courage to put his life at risk to speak out against intolerance and injustice, the least Rowan Williams can do is acknowledge the inhumanity of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill while he is at this conference,” said Truth Wins Out’s Executive Director Wayne Besen. “His indifference to suffering of LGBT people in Africa and worldwide is a great stain on his legacy. Only by finding his voice on this issue can Williams reverse the damage that has occurred on his watch.”

MadPriest calls Williams’ unwillingess to speak out “Rowan Williams – Another Opportunity Wasted”

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Thanks for your rant, while Finley Peter Dunne coined the phrase for journalists, Neibuhr applied to to preaching.

I see what you mean about this quote perhaps leading someone to assume a self-righteous stance. (The same could be said about the press, of course.) But, if the preacher includes herself, or himself, in the group of overly comfortable, in need of being "afflicted," I think we enter into true prophetic preaching.

Standing among those who are hearing the message, and naming one's own complicity in the situation, I believe would be the best and most effective way of both "afflicting" and motivating others to transformation.

Unfortunately, ++Rowan has missed another opportunity ...

Peter M. Carey+

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Leonardo Ricardo

Why do I think that ++Rowan had no idea regarding the depth of the basic fear, hate and REAL DANGER generated against LGBT Anglicans/others by Anglican Bishops in Africa?

Honest, I think brilliant Dr. Williams was on another page/passage of the ¨listening with compassion¨ suggestion as these fellas revealed themselves completely to be outright traitors in Entebbe!

++Rowan ought be absolutely SHOCKED at the depth of vileness, deceit, arrogance (¨sit next to Duncan Pitts¨ for the photo-op) Church) and pre-meditated mischiefmaking at The African Anglican Bishops Conference.

Maybe I just want to believe that the ABC made a big mistake by taking ¨sides¨ with those who demonize and exclude others in everyday life. Maybe it´s me that wants to believe that Dr. Williams couldn´t be that FAR OFF BASE when observing the deadly realities of hate-mongering against LGBT Christians/others at The Anglican Communion (past and present).

Maybe it´s not too late for ++Williams stop playing ¨pretend¨ with these dangerous men exhibiting purplish shades of rage against LGBT in public.

Maybe this is all a bad dream of Canterbury´s own faking...maybe it´s a glaring view of UGLY REALITY at The Anglican Communion.

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Ack! I hate that phrase, "afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted." It was, btw, coined by a journalist (Finley Peter Dunne) and makes more sense as a call to the press than to the Church. Too easy to get self-righteous and assume you are comfortable and therefore I am called to afflict you.

Which has nothing to do with the gist of your article. I, too, wish Rowan++ had spoken plainly to the African bishops that the anti-homosexuality bill is straight up wrong. I just don't think he needed to afflict anybody to do it.

[sorry for the rant; it's just that's a pet peeve of mine.]

Laura Toepfer (added by ed.)

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