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Sunday, 1 December, 2002, 09:27 GMT
Archbishop attacks Church pomp
Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Wales
The new Archbishop is known for being outspoken
The new Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has criticised the pomp and circumstance of the church he now heads.

The surprisingly vehement attack - carried in a BBC documentary on Sunday evening - comes the night before Dr Williams is confirmed as leader of Anglicans across the globe.

Dr Williams, the former Archbishop of Wales, said the Church was too interested in status and titles.

He maintained this guarding of position conflicted with the gospel and was anti-Christian.

Predecessor Dr George Carey
Dr George Carey was no radical
The new archbishop also gave an early clue that he might be prepared to re-open the debate on establishment.

The Church's status as Britain's official state religion has been recently criticised as an anachronism in an age where the UK has millions of Catholics, Muslims and non-conformist Christians.

Dr Williams said he was sceptical about the Church of England's position as the established state church.

But many will feel it is a debate the new archbishop should not re-open, particularly as there is little interest in the subject among non-religious people.

With a reputation as a rigorous academic and theologian, the archbishop's tenure promises a mix of liberal and conservative strands.

Gay priests

Dr Williams has warned the Church could easily fall apart over divisive issues such as women bishops and gay priests.

He himself is known to support the idea of women bishops and accept gay priests in a way no previous archbishop has hinted at.

But he said the measures adopted to avoid a split when the Church introduced women priests might not work if women bishops became a reality.

The appointment of "flying bishops", parachuted into dioceses to oversee the arrival of women priests, minimised the damage done by fervent opposition.

In an interview in the Church Times, Dr Williams said an alternative organisation might have to be created in England existing alongside the sees of York and Canterbury.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Robert Piggott
"Rowan Williams says he won't be stifled by the pomp and circumstance of his new role"

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