[QODLink]
Europe
UK's Archbishop of Canterbury to step down
Rowan Williams to end decade as head of Church of England marked by divisions between reformists and conservatives.
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2012 15:15
Rowan Williams will remain in his role during the celebrations for Queen Elizabeth's 60 years on the throne [Reuters]

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has announced that he will step down as leader of the Anglican Church.

In his announcement on Friday, Williams said he will step down from his post after 10 years as leader of the 80-million-strong global religious community by the end of the year.

The Anglican Church has been threatened with division for several years, with reformists and conservatives failing to bend to Williams' authority or attempts at consensus. Williams has struggled with divisions over issues of women's rights, gay bishops and same-sex unions.

Williams, 61, the head of the Church of England, the Anglican mother church, will return to academia, taking up a role as Master of Magdalene College, a senior role at Cambridge University. He previously taught theology at Cambridge and Oxford universities.

The normal retirement age for Church of England bishops is 70. Williams, who was appointed to the post in 2002, will step down at the end of December and take up his new role in January.

"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 said in a statement.

Busy times

Williams, who conducted the marriage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton in London last April, will remain in place to preside over Queen Elizabeth's diamond jubilee, marking her 60 years on the throne.

The bookmakers' favourite to replace him is the Church of England's second most senior cleric, the Archbishop of York,
John Sentamu, though there are some who are against his outspoken views at a sensitive time for the church.

Another in the running is the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, a friend of Prince Charles.

But his chances may have suffered over St Paul's Cathedral's botched handling of a four-month camp by the anti-capitalist movement Occupy London on its doorstep.

This is a busy year for the Church of England, with its parliament, or General Synod, set to vote in July on the
consecration of women bishops, and a landmark Anglican agreement called the Covenant.

Williams has invested much personal authority in these issues but has suffered embarrassment in both.

Church 'dissolution'

He put forward a compromise on women bishops in an attempt to keep traditionalist Anglo-Catholics from taking up an offer from Pope Benedict to switch to Rome within an ordinariate.

It is still unclear what form this compromise will take, but it is more than likely the synod will vote for women bishops
after the dioceses, or parishes, overwhelmingly said "yes".

The dioceses are at the moment voting on the Covenant, an initiative put forward by Williams in an attempt to prevent
disputes between churches in North America and Africa over gay bishops and same-sex unions. But dioceses look set to vote it down.

Williams has warned that the Anglican Communion faced a "piece-by-piece dissolution" if member churches failed to
undertake to avoid actions that upset others.

Source:
Reuters
Topics in this article
People
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
Lawsuit by 6-year-old girl, locked up for a year, reignites debate over indefinite detention of 'boat people'.
Indonesian and Malaysian authorities are keeping a close eye on local supporters of the hard-line Middle East group.
Citizens of the tiny African nation say they're increasingly anxious of the fallout after alleged coup.
A humanitarian crisis and a budget crisis converge in the heart of the human smuggling corridor in Texas.
Assam officials upset that WWII-era Stillwell Road won't be used in transnational highway linking four Asian nations.
join our mailing list