Ruth Gledhill has a short post whose significance is in its title rather than its content: Rowan: ‘I like my job – except the political bits.’ For the evidence for this title she links to her article today in The Times, about how the Archbishop of Canterbury was interviewed by three teenagers for a youth magazine. She reports that
he enjoys his job – “at least the non-political side of things.” This is because he is passionate about the environment and likes meeting people.
But I was encouraged by these words of Archbishop Williams, in the same interview:
I have no problem with gay clergy who aren’t in relationships, although there are savage arguments about the issue you might have heard about. Our jobs mean we have to adhere to the Bible, gay clergy who don’t act upon their sexual preferences do, clergy in practicing [sic, even in The Times] homosexual relationships don’t. This major question doesn’t have a quick fix solution and I imagine will be debated for many years to come.
Well said, Your Grace. But if that is really what you believe, why don’t you take a stronger line in upholding these standards? Why do you allow your staff to put out contradictory statements about your attitude to the recent activities of the Province of the Southern Cone? Why do you allow yourself to be manipulated by those bishops of the Anglican Communion who reject the whole idea that clergy “have to adhere to the Bible”? Why did you lead a eucharist for clergy who are not adhering to it? Why do you allow your own diocesan bishops to be patrons of an organisation campaigning against adhering to it?
Could this be because you not only don’t like “the political bits” of your job but are neglecting them, or do not have what it takes for this great challenge? Like it or not, the main job of an Archbishop of Canterbury is political. It is not just a matter of meeting people and caring for the environment. It is walking a political tightrope, to try to keep the Anglican Communion together in a time of great crisis.
If you don’t like this job and are not capable of doing it well, Your Grace, you should resign. Perhaps you could accept instead a relatively quiet bishopric where you can be “just very sweet and cuddly”, as Ruth Gledhill puts it, and enjoy meeting people, and the political bits will be like something out of Trollope (Anthony, or perhaps Joanna) rather than what you are currently struggling with.
Then we can appoint instead an Archbishop who does like political bits, and is not afraid to be seen to take a decisive lead. A good candidate might be John Sentamu, the Ugandan Archbishop of York, who certainly seems to enjoy courting political controversy, although I wonder if they would enthrone him in Canterbury if he is still refusing to wear a dog collar. Here is a man who should be able to unite the Anglican communion if anyone can.
I was interested to read here that
Rowan Williams is unable to drive.
But in 2002 he was put in the driving seat of the Anglican Communion. And since then the Communion seems to have been accelerating out of control towards a cliff edge. At a time like this an expert driver is needed.