Liberal to head Church of England

BBC, July 23, 2002 Link

A liberal and often controversial bishop has been chosen as the next Archbishop of Canterbury, religious leader for 70 million Anglicans worldwide.

The Archbishop of Wales, Rowan Williams, has been confirmed as the successor to Dr George Carey in the Church of England’s top post.

Prime Minister Tony Blair chose Dr Williams from a shortlist of two names, put forward by the Church after months of debate.

Dr Williams said he approached the job with a sense of awe but hoped to give the Church a renewed confidence in the 21st century.

“If there’s one thing I long for above all else, it’s that the years to come may see Christianity in this country able again to capture the imagination of our culture, to draw the strongest energies of our thinking and feeling,” he said.

Dr Carey, who is currently in the United States, said Dr Williams had “great abilities” and he greeted his appointment “with joy”.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, head of the Catholic church in England and Wales, welcomed the appointment of Dr Williams in what he called “challenging times” for Christian leaders.

“As a theologian of distinction, a man of deep spirituality and a gifted communicator he will, I have no doubt, prove to be a force for great good in this country and throughout the Christian world,” he said.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said Dr Williams had been chosen because of his “wisdom, intellectual stature and deep spirituality”.

Some Anglicans have warned that Dr Williams’ appointment could split the Church, with many conservatives strongly against some of his views – in particular on the ordination of women and gay priests.

Christina Rees, a synod member and former member of the Archbishop’s council, told Today Dr Williams could prove a great unifier for the Church.

“He’s got one of the finest theological minds, he’s already been shown to be a tremendous unifying force for the Church in Wales… and he prefers to lead by consensus rather than diktat.

Dr Williams, 52, has backed the separation of church and state in England.

In other controversial stances he has also been critical of the war on terrorism in Afghanistan, and earlier this month signed a letter condemning proposed American action in Iraq.

In a book republished in the Times on Tuesday, he tackled schooling and the “corruption and premature sexualisation of young children” in a consumerist society.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday July 23, 2002.
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