The Right Rev. Justin Welby, bishop of Durham in the U.K., has been named the new Archbishop of Canterbury, succeeding the retiring Archbishop Rowan Williams as head of the Anglican Communion.
LONDON — Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams criticized some Christians for feeling so "embarrassed and ashamed and disgusted" over homosexuality that they seem unwelcoming to outsiders and convey a lack of understanding.
Addressing a group of Christian teenagers at his Lambeth Palace residence in London, the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion said Anglicans and other Christians are still in "quite a lot of tangles" about homosexuality. The confusion sometimes leaves the church "scratching its head and trying to work out," Williams said.
His comments came barely two weeks after he slammed the British government for its plans to legalize same-sex marriages — something that Williams said would be a mistake. The Anglican Communion itself has been deeply divided over homosexuality. The Episcopal Church, the communion's U.S. branch, allows gay bishops and sanctions same-sex commitment ceremonies, while more conservative leaders in Africa strongly denounce homosexuality.
The Observer newspaper in the UK published extracts from Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams' new book:
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the leader of the Church of England and the worldwide Anglican Communion, recently announced that he would step down by year's end. A few days later, the Church of England rejected a Williams-backed unity plan for global Anglicanism, a church fractured by issues of gender and sexual identity. The timing of the resignation and the defeat are probably not coincidental. These events signal Anglicans' institutional failure.
But why should anyone, other than Anglicans and their Episcopal cousins in the U.S., care? The Anglican fight over gay clergy is usually framed as a left and right conflict, part of the larger saga of political division. But this narrative obscures a more significant tension in Western societies: the increasing gap between spirituality and religion, and the failure of traditional religious institutions to learn from the divide.
"What do think will happen" a longtime Episcopalian asked me in Charlotte, N.C., "now that Archbishop ... er ... "
"Rowan Williams," I said.
" ... yes, Rowan Williams, has decided to retire?"
The question took me aback. I rarely hear Episcopalians talking about the Archbishop of Canterbury, the London-based head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, which includes the Episcopal Church as its U.S. branch.
Many Episcopalians pray for the 61-year-old prelate every Sunday, but as Canterbury has gotten more conservative and more solicitous of arch-conservative Anglican bishops from the Third World, Anglicans in developed nations choose to walk their own progressive path.
LONDON — Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said Friday he will step down at the end of 2012, setting the stage for the unique process of government officials appointing the new leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
Williams' surprise announcement stunned the religious world, even as the short list of prospective successors swiftly began to circulate. Williams, 61, has led the Church of England and the world's 77 million Anglicans since 2002.
Traditionally, the new leader is chosen by a church committee of Anglican clergy and laity, who then draft a short list of candidates to submit to the prime minister, currently David Cameron.
While Queen Elizabeth II is the supreme governor of the Church of England and formally appoints the archbishop of Canterbury, the decision is based on the final determination of the prime minister. That process could be dogged by controversy. In the recent past, some Church of England reformists have cast doubt on whether a political figure should be involved in picking a spiritual leader for 77 million Anglicans around the world.
The odds-on favorite, according to numerous observers, is Uganda-born John Sentamu, the current archbishop of York and the No. 2 official in the Church of England. Sentamu, the sixth of 13 children, fled his homeland and its dictator, Idi Amin, in 1974.
Upon learning that Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has announced his intention to resign at the end of the year, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the UK's Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks issued a statements celebrating Williams for his years of leadership and service.
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.
VATICAN CITY — Despite differences over women's ordination and a controversial Vatican initiative to woo back disgruntled Anglicans, Pope Benedict XVI and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will pray together in Rome on Saturday (March 10).
The heads of the Roman Catholic Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion will celebrate vespers to mark the 1,000th anniversary of the Camaldoli monastery in Italy, which is revered by both Catholics and Anglicans.
Benedict and Williams are scheduled to have a private meeting on Saturday morning.
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