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Dr. Williams begins a tour of India: The Church of England Newspaper, Oct 15, 2010 p 7. October 18, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England Newspaper, Church of North India, Church of South India.

Dr. Williams visiting a school operated by the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has begun a 16 day tour of India, arriving in Calcutta on Oct 9.  Over the next two weeks Dr Rowan Williams will tour the subcontinent, visiting Ranchi, Nagpur, New Delhi, Madras, Vellore, Bangalore and Thiruvananthapurum.

“I look forward greatly to being back in India once more. Family connections, many friendships and the memory of two inspiring earlier visits mean that India is a special place for me, and I am deeply grateful for the invitation to visit again,” Dr. Williams said upon his departure.

Dr. Williams’ hosts on his Indian adventure, the Church of North India, the Church of South India and the Mar Thoma Church have planned a grueling itinerary for the archbishop.

The first three days of his visit were spent in Calcutta, visiting church-affiliated schools and institutions.   Dr. Williams visited the tomb of Mother Teresa at the mother house of the Missionaries of Charities then toured a museum dedicated to her memory before visiting a school operated by the order.

“The joy that was evident there, I believe, is a response to something very deep in the whole life of this city, not only today but through the ages,” he told reporters.  “Calcutta is known as the City of Joy so it’s very moving to see that joy and love at work.”

Speaking at a dinner organized by the Diocese of Calcutta for local dignitaries, Dr. Williams said he had long “wished to visit Calcutta after having known of its history. As a student I remember being inspired by the work for the poor here.”

Reporters also questioned Dr. Williams during the stops on throughout his tour.  In response to a question about religious violence, he stated, he was “concerned about the attacks on Christians as I would have been about attacks on people of other communities.”

Commenting on the recent court ruling on the ownership of disputed land in Ayodhya claimed by Hindus and Muslims, Dr. Williams said he had followed the debates over the verdict “closely.”  He noted that in 1992 over 2000 people were killed in sectarian rioting over the disputed temple.  “I’m glad to see that the way it was received was very peaceful,” he remarked.

On the first Sunday of his trip, Dr. Williams preached at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Calcutta, marking the Global Day of Prayer for the Millennium Development Goals.

In his sermon the archbishop spoke about the need to conquer the self by “denying the pleasures of thinking of yourself as an isolated being with no real relations with those around; denying yourself the fantasy that you can organise the world to suit yourself; denying yourself the luxury of not noticing the suffering of your neighbour.”

“This is fasting that reconnects you with reality.  And in the context of the gospel, this is the fasting that the Holy Spirit makes possible for us, breaking through our self-satisfaction,” he explained.

On Oct 12, Dr Williams visited the Diocese of Chotanagpur in Ranchi, and was briefed on the work of Christian education in the diocese.  Christian schools in the diocese had grown rapidly over the past century and a half, educating 217 students in 1869 as compared to 40,000 today, the Dr. Williams’ host, Bishop BB Baske reported.  Oct 13 found Dr. Williams leading worship at St Paul’s Cathedral in the Bahubazar district of the city.

The pace of the archbishop’s tour is not scheduled to slacken.  In Nagpur he will join celebrations of the 40th anniversary of the Church of North India and in Thiruvananthapuram the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Diocese of South Kerala, Church of South India. In Thiruvananthapuram the Archbishop will also meet Metropolitan Joseph and other members of the Mar Thoma Church.

In New Delhi, Dr Williams will deliver the Chevening Lecture at the British Council entitled “Pluralism and the Dialogue of Religions” and on Oct 15 will lead a service commemorating the 300th anniversary of the Indian Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (ISPCK).

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