Out going Archbishop of Church of England, Dr Rowan Williams took a hard look at the situation in the Church and expressed that Christianity in England is losing its potency. He said a state of confusion and loss of the real faith is being created.
He claimed there has been a lot of ignorance and dim-witted prejudice about the visible manifestations of Christianity which he claimed sometimes clouds the discussions on issues.
He added: “What I think slightly shadows the whole thing is this sense that there are an awful lot of people now of a certain generation who don’t really know how religion works, let alone Christianity in particular”.
The scenario, according to him has led to confusions, sensitivities and wrong idea grabbing from a world far away from the spiritual rich sources of the Church.
Dr Rowan Williams, who announced his decision to step down as Archbishop of Canterbury after ten years of challenging moral and religious issues in the Church was speaking in an interview with Telegraph Newspapers. He however said he hoped the Church would always still be relevant for millions of people.
“I think there is a great deal of interest still in the Christian faith”, but expressed that there is the willingness by many who deliberately want to misunderstand how religion works and then refusing to learn.
Speaking on England and secularity, he said he would welcome discussions on secularization debates with the hope that it would bring a long lasting solution to religious secularism questions in England.
The highly spiritual and morally upright religious leader has had to contend with series of unusual happenstances within the Church, many of which may have prompted his current frustration and eventual resignation.
He had held a religious ideology that has run foul of the doctrine of the society with many unpalatable and highly contaminating ideals being married into the Church. Such developments have created an unhealthy dilemma that might have put him in a state of perpetual self re assessment, resultant of his decision to change direction and retreat to his academic life honourably.
Such clash of interest between him and many in the society appeared to have bent his resolve to paddle on with agility the ship of the church.
But having encountered long years of stress and strains with an overrun patience as a worthy Ambassador of God and one of his holy saints, his inevitable resignation may have been justified..
According to the Telegraph, Dr Williams admitted to having found his past experience very grueling, and has viewed the post he is evacuating as very toxically challenging to any successor coming after him.
According to him, his successor would need the “constitution of an ox and the skin of a rhinoceros” to be able to hold the post.
The Archbishop is immense spiritual, and has built his experience on excellent academic background and deep religious knowledge. But he has been grossly misunderstood as he fights for justice and moral uprightness on many issues of spiritual texture.
He had struggled with many impositions including ordination of women bishops and the acceptance of openly homosexual clerics in the US Episcopal church and imposition of gay bishops in England, many issue seen in many quarters by his critics as being unfairly treated by him.
He advised that anybody who wants to step into his shoes as the new Archbishop must be ready for the tedious job and must be courageous enough to be able to face numerous challenges ahead.
He said that any individual taking up his seat as the next Archbishop of Church of England will have to develop a thick skin to be able to cope as the new Archbishop of Canterbury.
Dr Rowan Williams warned that his successor may not find the position an easy one in the quest to hold uprightly in steering the ship of the Church towards unpredictable future.
Dr Williams held that the Church of England is a “great treasure”, and a spiritual abode where many people must seek inspiration and comfort in times of need and at all times.
Implying that in the event of his experience, a great danger awaits the spiritual well being of the Church. he advised: “I would like the successor that God would choose,” claiming the position would requires immense demands and lots of sacrifice.
He added: “I would hope that my successor has the constitution of an ox and the skin of a rhinoceros, really. “But he will, I think, have to look with positive, hopeful eyes on a Church which, for all its problems, is still for so many people, a place to which they resort in times of need and crisis, a place to which they look for inspiration”.
“I think the Church of England is a great treasure. “I wish my successor well in the stewardship of it.”
In a statement issued by his official official Lambeth Palace after his announcing his resignation in a post on his website, he added: “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”.
“During the time remaining, there is much to do, and I ask your prayers and support in this period and beyond.”
Dr Williams will continue to carry out all the duties and responsibilities of the Archbishop of Canterbury, both for the Church of England and the Anglican Communion, until the end of the year, Lambeth Palace said.
The highly dedicated religious leader who had contended with many hot and unusual issues within the Church and many of which might have prompted his resignation however regretted that too many people still refuse to understand how religion works.
Reflecting on the conflict between Christianity and secularisation in Britain, Dr Rowan Williams said he would not hold the believe that the Church was losing the secularization debate but faced a “lot of ignorance and rather dim-witted prejudice”.
Name: Dr Rowan Douglas Williams
Position: Enthroned as the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury on February 27, 2003 in Canterbury Cathedral. Previously Bishop of Monmouth and Archbishop of Wales. From January 2013 he will be Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge.
Education: Dynevor School, Swansea; Christ’s College, Cambridge; Wadham College, Oxford. He was Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity, Oxford, 1986-92.
Books: include Dostoevsky: Language, Faith and Fiction, Wrestling with Angels: Conversations in Modern Theology, Silence and Honey Cakes: The Wisdom of the Desert and The Poems of Rowan Williams
Family: Married to Jane, a theology lecturer, since 1981. He has a son and a daughter.
Known for: liberal social views, criticisms of greed and attempting to hold the Anglican community together.
In his own words
On whether God exists:
[After the Asian tsunami] The question, ‘How can you believe in a God who permits suffering on this scale?’ is therefore very much around at the moment, and it would be surprising if it weren’t – indeed it would be wrong if it weren’t.
My worry is creationism can end up reducing the doctrine of creation rather than enhancing it.
The writers of the Bible, inspired as I believe they were, they were nonetheless not inspired to do 21st Century physics
On the Coalition
With remarkable speed, we are being committed to radical, long-term policies for which no one voted. At the very least, there is an understandable anxiety about what democracy means in such a context.
The vocal anxieties we hear from some quarters about the survival of ‘British identity’ in the face of migrants and refugees betrays a lack of proper confidence in the capacity and the commitment of our society both to learn and to teach; it suggests a confusion about what matters to us and why.
On faith schools
The often-forgotten fact that church schools are the main educational presence in some of our most deprived communities means that it simply can’t be said that these schools somehow have a policy of sanitising or
Nobody in their right mind would want to see in this country the kind of inhumanity that’s sometimes been associated with the practice of the law in some Islamic states; the extreme punishments, the attitudes to women as well… [However] there’s a place for finding what would be a constructive accommodation with some aspects of Muslim law, as we already do with some other aspects of religious law.
On the right to wear a cross
I believe that during Lent one of the things we all have to face is to look at ourselves and ask how far we are involved in the religion factory. And the cross itself has become a religious decoration.
On the War on Terror
We have only one global hegemonic power. It is not accumulating territory: it is trying to accumulate influence and control.
[After death of bin Laden] I think the killing of an unarmed man is always going to leave a very uncomfortable feeling; it doesn’t look as if justice is seen to be done.
The problem is with our own inability as a society to know what to do with discoveries of science. Man playing God is not a problem about science. It’s a problem about our decisions about the results of science and we shouldn’t be so much afraid of science as we should about our own inability to have a clear moral perspective on these matters.
On legalising same sex marriage to combat homophobia
If it is said that a failure to legalise assisted suicide – or same-sex marriage – perpetuates stigma or marginalisation for some people, the reply must be, I believe, that issues like stigma and marginalisation have to be addressed at the level of culture rather than law.