Solemn, arcane and ceremonial, church confirms its liberal new archbishop
The Guardian (England), Dec. 3, 2002
Stephen Bates, religious affairs correspondent
With a full panoply of bishops and ceremonial, the established church confirmed its “right trusty and well-beloved” brother mildly denounced in an interview at the weekend as “profoundly anti-Christian … about guarding position, about fencing yourself in”. Even the pretence that he had been chosen by God rather than the prime minister was maintained.
At one point, he faced a full hand of eight bishops in scarlet robes, sitting on the other side of a long table, like a re-enactment of a Victorian painting.
They solemnly denounced as contumacious (disobedient) anyone opposing Dr Williams’ appointment before signing, three times, his confirmation of office.
As if mindful of the wrath the liberal Dr Williams has incurred among some fundamentalist evangelicals because of his perceived liberalism on homosexuality, David Hope, the Archbishop of York, announced that all opponents of the election would be given an opportunity to object and then immediately, as they had not done so, that they had missed their chance.
Then, with one final swirl of antiquarianism, it was announced that the proctor was porrecting (producing) the definitive sentence in writing and that a public instrument and letters testimonial would be issued.
Emerging later from the front of St Paul’s, Dr Williams was surrounded by chattering children on a day’s outing from their Croydon primary school, given the surprise bonus of meeting a real live archbishop in a beard.
He greeted them with joy – perhaps more comfortable than he had been with the ceremonial – before disengaging gently, saying he had to go to lunch, and clambering into the official car, a seven-year-old Ford saloon. Their last glimpse of the leader of the worldwide Anglican communion was of him blowing them kisses as the car roared off.