Overseas reactions to Dr. Williams’ resignation: The Church of England Newspaper, March 22, 2012 p 7. March 28, 2012Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Alan Harper, David Chillingworth, Nicholas Okoh, Peter Jensen, Rowan Williams, Thabo Makgoba
News of the resignation of the Archbishop of Canterbury has prompted reactions ranging from sadness to glee across wider the Anglican Communion.
The 16 March 2012 announcement that Dr. Rowan Williams will leave office by year’s end prompted the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, Bishop David Chillingworth to write: “Archbishop Rowan’s time as Archbishop of Canterbury has been marked by great difficulty. To be the person who is called to foster and to embody unity will always be a costly ministry. He has fulfilled that ministry with a wonderful grace and personal warmth.”
The Primate of All Ireland, Dr. Alan Harper concurred. Dr Williams was “held in high affection across the Anglican Communion and, on behalf of the Church of Ireland, I offer him prayerful good wishes as he decides to step down from the hugely demanding role as Archbishop of Canterbury to take up his new responsibilities – and enter a new phase of his life.”
The Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba wrote the church had been “inordinately privileged to have such an able theologian and deeply spiritual thinker, as Archbishop of Canterbury over the last decade,” adding that “I … will miss him very much.”
However, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh of Nigeria said he was not sorry to see the archbishop go.
When Dr. Williams assumed office, the Anglican Communion was a “happy family. Unfortunately, he is leaving behind a Communion in tatters: highly polarized, bitterly factionalized, with issues of revisionist interpretation of the Holy Scriptures and human sexuality as stumbling blocks to oneness, evangelism and mission all around the Anglican world.
Since Dr. Rowan Williams “did not resign in 2008, over the split Lambeth Conference, one would have expected him to stay on in office, and work assiduously to ‘mend the net’ or repair the breach, before bowing out of office. The only attempt, the covenant proposal, was doomed to fail from the start,” Archbishop Okoh said.
For Nigeria, the “announcement does not present any opportunity for excitement. It is not good news here, until whoever comes as the next leader pulls back the Communion from the edge of total destruction.”
American Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori wrote that she was “grateful for Rowan Williams’ service as Archbishop of Canterbury during an exceedingly challenging season. We can all give thanks for his erudition and persistence in seeking reconciliation across a rapidly changing Anglican Communion.”
The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr. Peter Jensen observed that Dr. Williams was “universally admired for his intellectual stature and his personal warmth. In his time as Archbishop, the Anglican Communion has been subjected to unprecedented stresses which have hastened an inevitable tendency to regional independence and decentralisation. With the majority of Anglicans now from theologically conservative churches of the Global South, the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury in the future will demand a deepening appreciation of their place in the Communion.”
First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.