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Thursday, 25 July, 2002, 14:41 GMT 15:41 UK
Canterbury's new archbishop
The Archbishop of Wales, Rowan Williams, has been chosen as the next Archbishop of Canterbury, religious leader for 70 million Anglicans worldwide.

A liberal and often controversial figure in the church, Dr Williams is known for his liberalism.

He backs gay and lesbian clergy members, supports women being ordained as bishops and also accepts divorced people re-marrying in church.

He also supports the Church of England losing its established status in the UK and becoming a church on equal footing with all other Christian denominations.

Can Rowan Williams make the Church more modern? Are you pleased to see a liberal man in the post? Is this process the best way to pick the Archbishop of Canterbury?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


Your reaction

Fantastic news! Rowan Williams offers Christianity a chance of revival in this country something desperately needed especially among my generation (I'm 16). My thoughts of him will always be connected with the delightful memory of him leading a conga around the stage during the communion service at Greenbelt Festival 2000. Let this nation be saved Lord with a little help from this top bloke!
Miriam, Cumbria

If you have ever met Rowan Williams you will understand what an awe inspiring man he is. I am not strongly religious but have had the opportunity to talk to him on several occasions, watch him with a class of children and listen to his sermons. He is breath taking and the church could certainly do with a few more like him!
Claire, U.K

Some of the comments that are being made regarding the appointment of Rowan Williams seem to focus on the fact that a Welshman has been made head of the Church of England - well, so what? He's a committed Christian, he believes in an inclusive church, regardless of sexuality, political viewpoint, or even nationality. Christ preached tolerance and inclusiveness - or at least in the bible I have at home he did - so how can the "Christians" who cry "foul" at the appointment of a Welshman justify this? I say good luck to him - he's going to need it. And all our prayers!
Sian Evans, Wales


A caring, committed and connected Church of England has a lot to give

Stephen, Hampshire
Our society is in many ways "circling the drain" with crime, drugs, family breakdown and a breakdown of trust and ethics in many areas of life. A caring, committed and connected Church of England has a lot to give in this situation. Go for it, Rowan!
Stephen, Hampshire

Rowan Williams seems like a forward thinking, understanding, honest and intelligent man. The trouble is that he represents the Christian community and judging from the comments on this site, these are not qualities they particularly value in a leader.
John, UK

Why does the church need a leader? Christ should be the one and only head, the rest equal members of his body.
Richard, Panama

Comments debating the supposed liberal credentials of the new archbishop seem to miss the point that this was a political appointee... not a leader chosen by the 7% who attend church. Was this any other organisation I'm sure the cries of foul play or claims of underhand parachuting of preferred sympathetic candidates would be loud and vociferous.
Neil, England


If people can relate to what is being taught, they are more likely to take interest

D Walton, UK
Many people have been debating recently about the role of the church in Britain. The church has lost touch with modern society, and as a consequence people are not interested by its teachings. Surely a more radical, modern Archbishop of Canterbury should be seen as positive step? If people can relate to what is being taught, they are more likely to take interest.
D Walton, UK

It is with great sadness and yet no surprise that I greet the news of Dr Williams' appointment. Anyone who would advocate homosexuality in any walk of life, much less in the ministry, leading congregations and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ is to be feared, for the damage they could do to the people of God, regardless of the many people they are leading astray.
Raymond Speer, Northern Ireland

I'm delighted that Rowan Williams has been chosen as our next archbishop. He brings so much hope to the future of our church. Few bishops command such a sense of holiness and of realism. He will be there for the marginalised and the rejected, that is the closest possible way of following the Christian life. He is theologically orthodox but shows a real compassion and understanding for others, irrespective of their gender or sexuality. I just pray that conservatives within the church judge him on his holiness rather than on their own party agendas. He will be a fine archbishop, I have no doubt.
Marcus Ramshaw, UK

Anyone who accepts homosexuality then decries Disney gives a signal toward his ability to selectively define his policies. Thus another step down for the C of E.
Ted, USA


Jesus did not uphold the values of the Old Testament but challenged its orthodoxy

Ed King, UK
Really pleased to see the church of the state finally appoint someone who represents the teachings of Jesus and not the Status Quo. Would Jesus be homophobic? Would Jesus approve the bombing of Afghanistan? Would Jesus stop women becoming priests? I think not, at least if we are to believe the teachings of the New Testament. I would consider attending church if I thought that there was a chance that it is representing something deeper than the moral values of the state. Jesus did not uphold the values of the Old Testament but challenged its orthodoxy. Let's hope the new archbishop can embody a bit more of the radical values embodied by Jesus, the historical rebel.
Ed King, UK

Yes, Jesus would have shown love to homosexuals, as he did to prostitutes, but he wouldn't have condoned their homosexuality. We should try more loving compassion but without the abandonment of God's clear teachings. This is what will unite the church and I pray that Rowan Williams will follow it.
Adam Taylor, UK

The church needs a leadership that will follow the teaching of the Bible - not tradition or a liberal theology. It is apparent that Dr Williams disagrees with the Bible in a number of areas despite his 'strong theological knowledge'. The Bible is very clear that same sex relationships are wrong; it is not implied or stated in a vague way. Less clear is the issue of women in ministry where the Bible shows that in some roles that this is acceptable e.g. administration but not where teaching is involved, which seems to exclude the possibility of women vicars. If Dr Williams' modernisation of the C of E, then the slow trickle of people leaving the C of E will become a flood.
Phil Lawrence, UK

As both a practising Catholic and homosexual, I get the impression that Dr Williams is a simple, caring, compassionate and thoroughly decent man, just as Jesus would want him to be. If love and acceptance is hard to swallow for many hardliners, I am sure Dr Williams will treat them with the respect they unfortunately are unable to show to others. Many congratulations
John O'Donnell, Scotland

Its a sad thing when one's Christianity is judged purely about whether you disapprove of gay people or not. I think this is an inspired appointment. Rowan Williams is a thoughtful, erudite man who has a genuine humility and deep spirituality. For me, the fact that he recognises the worth of gay partnership can only be a bonus in helping the Church to recognise the realities of our contemporary world, which are certainly different to those of the first century
Merseymike, UK


Dr Williams is a people person with a common touch

Mark Russell, Chorleywood
I am delighted with Rowan Williams' appointment. He brings a laser sharp mind, a brilliant wit, any many other gifts to this job. As a member of the Church of England, I am very pleased at this appointment. Many are worried about some of his views, but he promised to be a unifier. That is the role of a bishop, and I think he realises the challenges that face him. Dr Williams is a people person with a common touch, and I think the Church of England is in for an exciting few years with his leadership. I will be praying for him.
Mark Russell, Chorleywood, UK

Religion plays such a small role in modern society that I don't really see what difference it makes if the new archbishop is a radical one or not. I doubt that 50% of the population even know who George Carey was (until today when he is all over the news). That said, I wish him the best of luck in his new position.
Steve, UK

The doctrine of the Church of England has always expressed itself in three ways: through reason, through tradition and through the Bible. It does not rely on just one of these alone. I welcome the appointment of Rowan Williams as he has shown himself to be a thinker as well as being able to involve himself in the issues of the day. It looks as if he will not be altogether equivocal on matters of great concern either.
Andrew Travis, UK


He has specifically gone against the teachings of God

Liz, UK
It is with sadness that I read that Dr Williams has been appointed the new Archbishop of Canterbury. How can he be called a man of God when he has specifically gone against the teachings of God? The Bible clearly states that homosexual acts are wrong. That is not to say we condemn the people, but we as a church definitely condemn the act. So to see the archbishop ordaining homosexuals is quite frankly a scary move. I sincerely hope and pray that this type of weak, wishy-washy, tell-the-people-what-they-want-to-hear teaching will disappear, because, quite frankly, that's not what God's about.
Liz, UK

I'm very pleased with the appointment. It's about time someone progressive had a chance. As to those who criticise, and would prefer someone who upheld a bunch of meaningless traditions and prejudices, this man is not dispensing with the essence of Christianity, just trying to ensure that the church doesn't become a dinosaur. If you want the C of E to die out, fair enough, but as a non-churchgoer, I can see the good the church can do and hope this helps to make it more relevant again.
Andrew T, UK

It is encouraging to see someone with an interesting and individual character to get such a job in the church. He seems to remain an individual whilst being fully capable. Accepting gays and lesbians is definitely a step in the right direction as they have as just as much to be religious as anyone.
Hannah, UK

One wonders why the attendance in churches is dropping despite the attempts the C of E makes to manipulate the statistics. Somebody as liberal as Dr Williams does not augur well for the future of the C of E and I believe it will not be long now before the C of E in the UK becomes isolated from those in the rest of the world who class themselves as Christians.
Mike Francis, UK


What a superb choice

Bob Gee, England
What a superb choice. A great relief from the dogmatic Dr Carey. Whilst I do have differing views on some subjects, his attitude to the marrying of divorced couples in church is a blessed relief to many thousands of church goers, who have divorced through no fault of their own. My very best wishes to Dr Williams and God bless.
Bob Gee, England

Is he for real? He seems so stereotypical, like a character from a sitcom. Oh, well, another nail in the coffin of Anglicanism. Give me the Catholic church any day. Sexist and "homophobic" it may be, but at least it seems to draw its doctrine from the pages of the Bible rather than the Guardian. Has anyone stopped to consider whether the relentless liberalisation of the C of E is the problem and not the solution?
Anthony Jones, UK

Hallelujah! As a Methodist I am thoroughly pleased to see the election of Rowan Williams as someone who may be able to help bring our churches together by allowing women to take all roles within the Church of England. I also hope that he will discourage any marginalisation within and out with the churches on grounds of sexual orientation, social class or race.
Vivien Easson, UK

He has a large agenda to fulfil, as a former professor of divinity he is more than qualified for the role. He has to drag the church kicking and screaming from the 16th century, disestablish the church from the state - a cosy arrangement that suited Henry VIII but is now obsolete; this disincentives the church and alienates churchgoers. The church has to market itself and what it believes in, adapting 21st century methods to deliver timeless faith.
Steve Cowie, UK

If the C of E isn't dead it soon will be - if a "man of God" can't stick to what it clearly says in God's word then what hope does the church have? It's a sad day for the church knowing that men in the past have died for the truth which is being watered down further and further to become appealing to man - the Gospel is not "Appealing" its serious - deadly serious.
Ian, UK

Dr Williams sounds like just the sort of church leader that is needed if the C of E is to re-establish itself as the major UK religion. I used to be Catholic, but was turned off by the bigotry, hypocrisy and misogamy that is rife within the church. While C of E is better, it still has major problems. I worship God in my own way in my own home and throughout my working and social life. I miss the camaraderie of church, and if Dr Williams can turn the C of E into a warm, welcoming, liberal place of worship, then I for one will be giving it a go.
Mary, UK


I sincerely hope in the future he can stand strong to what the Christian faith means

Michael, Aberdeen
Pleased? No. Frankly as a Christian I feel very disappointed that the man chosen to represent the largest Christian denomination in this country can ordain a practising homosexual. Although as a Christian I do not condemn homosexuals I do believe in the teachings of the Bible which does not condone the act.

As the leader of the C of E, Rowan Williams has an obligation to stick as closely as humanly possible to the teachings of the Bible, which he to date as without apology failed to do so. I sincerely hope in the future he can stand strong to what the Christian faith means, and that is love and forgiveness but never the acceptance and condoning of sin. The way to get people back into churches is not to lessen the church's morality or to weaken its message, but to stick firmly to its principles and not to compromise in order to please others. Maybe an Archbishop of Canterbury who agrees with ALL biblical teaching would be a start.
Michael, Aberdeen

Michael from Aberdeen, since the Bible actually contains a number of contradictions and debatable passages it would seem kind of impossible to find an archbishop that agrees with ALL biblical teachings. But since you obviously do I hope you remember to sell your daughter into slavery as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. To check that you have no contact with menstruating women as stated (Lev. 15:19-24). Put your neighbour to death if they work on the Sabbath (Exodus35:2). You know seeing it all laid out, I think you're right - we do need an archbishop who obeys all the teachings of the Bible.
Colin Wright, UK

Mark suggested that the church leadership ought not to "bury its head in the sand". Yes, I agree, but if the price of being in tune with contemporary mores is that we dispense with aspects of the Christian tradition that non-churchgoers find unpalatable then I consider that to be a price too high to pay. In addition, it is profoundly disrespectful to those historical figures who, under threat of death, refused to give up those aspects of the Anglican faith that their society found to be unpalatable.
Michael Lakey, UK

It is time for the C of E to have a leader who is more in tune with modern life. Even if you don't believe that there should be divorce, homosexuality or women clergy they are a fact of life and the vast majority of the population will not be encouraged by a church that buries its head in the sand and ignores them.
Mark, UK

As an Anglican Franciscan, I welcome the appointment of the new archbishop at the same time as congratulating his predecessor for his valuable service. Which one of our bishops is chosen really doesn't matter to me. He will have good, indifferent and bad qualities, - the same as every other human. He will have things to say that I agree with and things that I disagree with. All I require is that he believes there is a Creator and shows his care for his fellow human beings, and tries to follow the teachings of Jesus. Its only the media that cares whether he's charismatic or not, what his political views are or how many bums on seats there are in church each week.
Anthony, England

Putting bums on seats in Anglican churches should not be the new archbishop's main concern. Surely the function of the Church of England, as per its historical and biblical foundations, should be to teach the Bible faithfully, intelligently and accurately to the congregation, and to hold out the claims of Jesus Christ to unbelievers. A vicar would surely be happier with a church of ten committed Christians, engaged in serving the church and sharing Christ with their friends and family, than with one of fifty or so nominal churchgoers attracted by a "modern" style and issues-focused content.
Dave, UK

Please be careful about words like 'liberal' when referring to Dr Williams. At the last Lambeth Conference, observers from the Orthodox churches found him to be deeply theologically orthodox as well as challenging. Maybe the word to be used should be prophetic in that he challenges the cosy assumptions of 'conservatives' and makes people ask questions about their own integrity. Dr Carey was a great man for holding together the Anglican Communion, and his support for the church in Sudan was heroic: I think Dr Williams will hold the Church of England together and challenge the smugness of all of us.
Stephen Griffith, UK

After reading the article about the soon to be appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, one wonders why this person when the world is in such turmoil? I always knew you Brits were liberal, but he's even more so than Phil Donahue and that's pretty bad.
Dolly Crane, USA


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