Archbishop of Canterbury to step down


Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the head of the 85 million-strong worldwide Anglican Communion, announced Friday he will step down from his post at the end of the year.

Williams has been Archbishop of Canterbury, the top role in the Church of England, for 10 years.

He has accepted the position of master of Magdalene College at Cambridge University, starting in January, a statement on his website said.

Williams said: “It has been an immense privilege to serve as Archbishop of Canterbury over the past decade, and moving on has not been an easy decision.”

He thanked those who had “brought vision, hope and excitement” to his ministry.

He has informed Queen Elizabeth II of his decision, the archbishop’s office said. As supreme governor of the Church of England, the queen will formally appoint his successor.

The Crown Nominations Commission will consider who will follow Williams in the role “in due course,” his office said.

The secretary-general of the Anglican Communion, Canon Kenneth Kearon, wrote to senior church leaders to announce Williams’ resignation, the Anglican Communion News Service reports on its website.

Williams’ time in office had “coincided with a period of turmoil, change and development in the Anglican Communion, and his careful leadership, deeply rooted in spirituality and theology, has strengthened and inspired us all in the Communion during this time,” Kearon is quoted as saying.

Read more.

And there’s this nice bit of color and context from Rocco:

A keen student of the Benedictine spiritual tradition who reportedly considered becoming Catholic as a young man, the 104th Archbishop departs his post with Vatican-Lambeth ties quite possibly at their warmest since Pope Paul VI famously took the ring off his finger to give to Archbishop Michael Ramsey at the close of Vatican II.

An especially warm rapport has developed between Williams — a world-class theologian in his own right — and Benedict XVI, most recently evidenced by the Pope’s invitation for the archbishop to address this October’s Synod of Bishops dedicated to the pontiff’s top pastoral priority, the New Evangelization. While some commentators aimed to interpret 2009′s Anglicanorum coetibus – Benedict’s response to requests from Anglican groups to enter Catholic communion as a unit — as Rome’s “parking a tank on the lawn of Lambeth Palace,” the bond made for perhaps the emotional high-point of the following year’s papal State Visit to Britain as the successors of Peter and Augustine presided together at Vespers in Westminster Abbey, marking a Pope’s first pilgrimage to the iconic London church dedicated to St Peter.


  1. Catherine says:

    It is intriguing to read that Archbishop Williams once considered converting to Catholicism, and moving to read about his warm relationship with Pope Benedict. He is retiring rather early…perhaps he’ll think again about the idea of “swimming the Tiber”.

  2. He seems like a lovely person, but a real Hamlet. A angst-ridden waffler who couldn’t and wouldn’t keep the former missions in Africa from becoming the tail now wagging the dog. Thus the mores of genocidal and backward Africa are over-represented in his Church.

  3. Hopefully he can find a good barber stylist now.

  4. Bill Russell says:

    A real Hamlet indeed. Poor man was never gifted to lead. The Anglican Communion is in meltdown now. If he stayed in office, he’d be blamed for the total ruin that seems inevitable, much of which was beyond his control. He is wise to resign when he can, and go out in a blaze of failure.

  5. I’m sorry, but those eyebrows have got to clipped down. No woman in a public position would ever be allowed to walk around looking like that without being villified. This is basic human hygiene. I couldn’t believe it, at Will and Kate’s wedding, and there he was and not even the royal wedding got him to clip them down. And the way his beard goes down his neck……

  6. Bill Russell says:

    It is the end of an embarrassing tenure …
    Having studied both Rowan Williams thinking and poetry in depth (I’m a published poet myself) I can only conclude that the real tragedy of his tenure lay in the fact that one had, as the head of an Anglican Church, an unregenerate Hegelian, pro-gay, Neo-Pagan Socialist Mystic playing at being a Christian leader (and RW was fond of intellectual games). He’s been such a disaster because spirituality he was never right in the first place. He was one of those who had the outward form of religion whilst remaining a stranger to the real Christ who’s revealed in Scripture, (2 Timothy 3:5). The nauseating praise he’s drawn from the world (especially from the British Establishment) would indicate that he had been a false prophet all along, (Luke 6:26). Hence the awful fruits of his tenure, (Matthew 7:15-20).

  7. Hi Bill, Thanks for sharing.

    Quick question: what is an “unregenerate Hegelian” and what is the connection to Christianity? This is not a rhetorical question. Just that I am un-schooled in this matter and amtrying to understand your point.

    Also, not clear what a “Socialist Mystic” is? What does that mean? Or perhaps you meant to say “Socialist and Mystic.”

    Thanks in advance.

  8. Henry Karlson says:

    Matthew 7:1

  9. terry nelson:
    Why is this important? I know from a student of his at Oxford that that he is an expert in St. Augustine of Hippo’s thought and theology.

  10. Ann:
    I wrote this when another commenter said the same kind of comment:
    Why is this important? I know from a student of his at Oxford that that he is an expert in St. Augustine of Hippo’s thought and theology. I admire him for that.

  11. He looks fine to me.

  12. Meet the Most Reverend (and Right Honorable) John Sentamu, the Uganda-born Archbishop of York, and the second highest ranking cleric in the CoE. Odds-makers have him favored to succeed Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the Anglican Communion.

    Here’s his Wikipedia profile:

    Meanwhile, here’s an interesting take from the UK Telegraph on the one hurdle Archbishop Sentamu that might keep him from getting the top job:

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