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Tuesday, 23 July, 2002, 08:09 GMT 09:09 UK
Rowan Williams: The able successor
Dr Rowan Williams, archbishop of Wales
Dr Williams has the skills to unify church factions
Dr Rowan Williams will make a very able successor to the Archbishop of Canterbury, according to friends and clergymen.

But supporters within the Church in Wales have warned people not to expect Dr Williams to be the man to solve all the Church of England's current woes.

Rt Rev John Davies, Bishop of St Asaph
Rt Rev John Davies: 'Remarkably gifted'
Those who know the Archbishop of Wales said he will bring "experience, humanity and intellect" to bear on such pressing issues as the ordination of women priests, homosexuality in the church and the appointment of bishops by 10 Downing Street.

His powers of analysis, theological knowledge and rapport with people from all walks of life will serve him well if he is appointed.

His ability to switch effortlessly from talking at ease with children in a classroom to holding sway in a theological debate has earned him admirers.

The Right Reverend John Davies, Bishop of St Asaph, said Dr Williams had the ability to do many roles very well.

"He is one of those remarkably gifted people who emerges at critical points in the story of a nation and plays a leading part in shaping its life," he said.


Dr Williams is the ideal person to help the Church of England face up to its challenges

Archdeacon Peter Woodman
"He demonstrates that rare combination of theological brilliance, humility, friendship and a deep and attractive spirituality."

Bishop John added that Dr Williams' deepened the "sense of spirituality" of people in Wales and has shown impressive theological leadership as Archbishop of Wales.

Archdeacon Peter Woodman, who worked with Dr Williams during his eight years as Bishop of Monmouth, was fulsome in his praise for Wales's leading clergyman.

"He holds interesting and challenging views on key issues, but not in a partisan or divisive way," he said.

"Dr Williams is the ideal person to help the Church of England face up to its challenges.

"Theologically, he is a conservative, but he has other views on ethical matters; in some respects he is a traditionalist, in others a forward-thinking modernist.

Dr Rowan Williams
Born 1950, Swansea Valley
Education: Dynevor Secondary School; Christ's College, Cambridge
1986- appointed Prof of Theology, Oxford
1991 - Elected Bishop of Monmouth
1999 - Elected Archbishop of Wales
Family: Wife Jane, children Rhiannon and Pip

"He is not a man you can attach a label to."

Childhood friend Rev John Walters spotted early on a talented teenager who would rise to the top of his chosen profession.

"It would be unfair to overburden the man and think he will be the saviour of the Church of England and he knows that.

"He really has this great heart and loving concern for people and a good sense of humour."

Rev Walters recalls a man marked out for destiny at an early age.

"He had a phenomenal brain even then, but there was also a great humanity there.

Dr Rowan Williams
Dr Williams is a well-read figure

His liberal views emerged as a young man, studying the political hothouse of the late Sixties.

"He wrote an article in 1967 saying the concept of human rights was a very modern one, which came with responsibilities - this was very mature for a 17-year-old.

"He could have ended up in an ivory tower in Oxford, but he has his feet firmly the ground and has a clear understanding of the human condition."

Rev Walters said the events of 11 September, which Dr Williams witnessed first-hand, were chronicled in typically thoughtful fashion in the archbishop's book Writing the Dust.

'Reassuring'

"He asks people to take a measured response to events and not just react. That is very much him."

The Right Reverend Saunders Davies, Bishop of Bangor, said people were put at their ease in the archbishop's presence by his "reassuring smile".

"In all the demands on his great spiritual, intellectual, academic and diplomatic gifts, he will not forget the personal touch and the pastoral concern.

"Dr Rowan Williams radiates the love of God and Christ's passionate concern for the well-being of every member of society."

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BBC Wales' s Gail Foley
"There is an air of unworldliness about Rowan Williams"

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