Friday, 16 March 2012

Rowan Williams moves on

 Well, it has certainly been a busy time of late. We've have all the continuing furore about the Government's proposals for gay marriage, with various members of the RC and Anglican Church intervening, not always in particularly helpful ways. Then voting on the Anglican Covenant has been moving apace and not looking as it is going to be very successful on home ground, which led to Rowan Williams putting together a little appeal in which he looked a bit teary if you ask me... Talking of tears, we have had further instances of child abuse being uncovered, both at home in Chichester diocese and evidence of more abuse in Ireland. Meanwhile Rowan Williams and the Pope have been praying together and we have heard that more priests are planning to leave for the Ordinariate (is it only me who thinks a lot more of them talk about going than actually go?) And speaking of going - well, as you all know, Rowan is hanging up his mitre and in favour of the academic's gown as he takes a post as Master of Magdalene college.
  I heard about William's resignation in college today and my first thought was that much as I love all the drama (stifles yawn...) I  hope that we won't see too much bitching and in-fighting. Then on the way home I heard someone from Reform saying how we needed a chap who would uphold biblical teaching (about women and gays, there any other kind of teaching?) and someone from Inclusive Church saying that we need someone who can engage in a relevant way with the issues of today ( those would be issues about women and gays then?)
It seemed particularly apposite that Rowan Williams chose to bow out, wise man, on the very day that the Government launched its  consultation on gay marriage. The Government seems to be quite clear that it is not consulting on whether to have gay marriage or not, it is just consulting generally, then it will go ahead no matter what. Whatever my own views on the whole subject, I can't help but feel that this railroading on a matter which many people have such strong views on may be unwise. There is already a great deal of anxiety (paranoia?) amongst some Christians and the Government's apparent disregard is likely to just fuel the sense of marginalisation and the sense that faith is being "driven out of the public square". Some of the more inflammatory statements by people such as Cardinal O'Brien will also serve to feed a growing public perception of people of faith as bigoted. There is some stereotyping of Christians in Britain. It is not a happy state of affairs.
Some might say it is a difficult time to be a Christian and others that it is difficult to see the way forward for the Church. Williams has faced a great deal of criticism while in office, but I think we might miss his gentle and nuanced approach. I guess Rowan Williams, as he contemplates his future, might think that for him things can only get better. I am not sure the same can be said for the Church.


  1. I think we will miss him far more than we can imagine, but I'm guessing he won't miss the pressure and the flak and will relish a return to academic life.

  2. I think that you have summed up the last few days very well, and your last sentence may be only too true.

    My greatest sadness following the Archbishop's announcement was how quickly one member of General Synod was sticking the knife in, and being critical of his time as Archbishop in the national media. It was totally inappropriate and showed a complete disregard for him as a human being, having just resigned his post.

    I am not Rowan's greatest fan (far from it) but I think that those negative comments were shameful, and a complete denial of the Biblical phrase "See how these Christians love one another".

    Until we learn to do that once more, the church will not get better - only worse.