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Tuesday, 23 July, 2002, 12:34 GMT 13:34 UK
'A theologian of distinction'
Dr Rowan Williams
Some have expressed concerns at his "radical" views
Religious leaders and politicians have welcomed the appointment of Dr Rowan Williams as the next Archbishop of Canterbury.

The current Archbishop of Wales, 52, has been hailed as a unifying force by some.

But more conservative voices within the Church have expressed "fundamental concerns" over his support for the ordination of women and gay rights.

The current Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, who is in America, greeted Dr Williams' acceptance of the role "with joy".

He said: "Rowan will bring to this demanding office great abilities as a theologian and as an experienced Primate of the Anglican Communion."


We do have problems with his radical agenda

Frank Naggs
Conservative evangelical group

Archbishop of York, Dr David Hope, said: "The relationship between the two Archbishops of Canterbury and York has traditionally been important.

"I hope that together we may develop a creative and collaborative partnership in the service of the whole church and for the fulfilment of the ministry and mission entrusted to us all."

'Fundamental concerns'

But Frank Knaggs, a member of the Conservative evangelical group on the Synod, said there were concerns about Dr Williams's support of homosexuality and women priests.

"We do have problems with his radical agenda, but in the Christian way we would like to have him clarify some of these issues, so we are arranging an early meeting hopefully to clarify some of these fundamental concerns."


He will, I have no doubt, prove to be a force for great good

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor
Archbishop of Westminster
Prime Minister Tony Blair said the archbishop's "wisdom, intellectual stature, and deep spirituality" would be invaluable.

Chief Rabbi Professor Jonathan Sacks said: "Rowan Williams is a quite exceptional thinker and man of God, and I look forward to the same warm friendship that I had with his predecessor, which did so much to improve Jewish-Christian relationships."

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the Archbishop of Westminster and leader of Roman Catholics in England and Wales, warmly welcomed the appointment of Dr Williams.

He said: "As a theologian of distinction, a man of deep spirituality and a gifted communicator he will, I have no doubt, prove to be a force for great good in this country and throughout the Christian world."

'Human sexuality'

The Evangelical Alliance said they hoped to "engage in constructive dialogue" with the new archbishop.

But they hinted at the need to maintain traditional teachings on key doctrines such as "human sexuality".


We hope and pray the new archbishop will work hard to sustain these important traditions

John Smith
Evangelical Alliance

The group's UK director, John Smith, said: "The Evangelical Alliance welcomes what is a significant and imaginative appointment."

He said George Carey had "served the Church well" during his term as archbishop.

"In particular he kept intact the Church's historic teachings, both on key doctrines such as the resurrection and the uniqueness of Christ, as well as the moral imperatives of the Christian faith, for example on human sexuality and family life.

"We hope and pray the new archbishop will work hard to sustain these important traditions."


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13 Jul 02 | Politics
10 Jun 02 | Wales
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