by Damian Thompson
From THE DAILY TELEGRAPH blogs:
Rowan Williams is finished as Archbishop of Canterbury. His authority has been utterly destroyed by the decision of the American bishops to reject his scheme to hold together the Anglican Communion. If there is a Lambeth Conference next year – and it is hard to see how there can be, if its American bankrollers are kicked out – then I shall be very surprised if he presides over it.
Any Archbishop of Canterbury would have faced almost insurmountable obstacles to preserving the unity of the Anglican Communion, many of whose members do not recognise each other as Christians, let alone as Anglicans. But Dr Williams has not come even close to surmounting them. Just as John Major never recovered from Black Wednesday, Rowan Williams has never recovered from Black Sunday: 6 July, 2003, when he forced his friend Canon Jeffrey John to withdraw his acceptance of the post of Bishop of Reading.
What was so shocking about this event was the fact that Canon John, a celibate gay man, was not breaking the Church of England’s own rules – unlike the gay bishops who have quietly carried on having sex without having the courage to declare their sexuality (or, in some cases, tell their wives).
Dr Williams was yielding to pressure from Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, an appalling man who has publicly supported barbarous legislation to jail homosexuals. Well, if you pay the Danegeld, you never get rid of the Dane (or Nigerian, Rwandan, Australian and all the other “Global South” anti-gay campaigners).
For almost his entire period in office, the treacle-voiced Welsh Primate with the Fu Manchu eyebrows has been bending over backwards to appease people whose views he privately abhors.
I thought Rowan Williams was going to be the finest Archbishop of Canterbury for decades. Instead, he has been a disappointment on every level – even in his own area of expertise, theology.
He does not put his foot in it as often as his predecessor, George Carey – but, then, you can’t commit a gaffe if nobody has a bloody clue what you’re talking about. He is obviously afraid that he will go down in history as the Archbishop on whose watch the Anglican Communion fell into schism.
But that’s not how I, and many other people, will remember him. For us, he will always be the Archbishop who laid down his friend for his life.