Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, announced this morning that he is resigning at the end of the year. After more than 20 years as bishop and then archbishop, Williams plans to return to academia at Cambridge University.
Williams is highly respected within the Anglican Church and the broader Christian church, as well as other faiths with whom he worked. He was a welcome progressive Christian voice on many of the major social issues of our time. His time as Archbishop, however, has been one in which the Anglican communion has seen a growing split over the ordination of gay clergy. He was often criticized by conservatives for not denouncing it more forcefully and by progressives for not supporting it more strongly.
In words for his eventual successor, Williams said in an interview:
"It is a job of immense demands and I would hope that my successor has the constitution of an ox and the skin of a rhinoceros, really. But he will, I think, have to look with positive, hopeful eyes on a church, which for all its problems is still, for so many people, a place to which they resort in times of need and crisis, a place to which they look for inspiration. I think the Church of England is a great treasure. I wish my successor well in the stewardship of it."
Williams is an eloquent preacher and talented writer, I look forward to continue benefiting from those gifts.
Duane Shank is Senior Policy Advisor for Sojourners. Follow Duane on Twitter @DShankDC.