A nightmare week for the Archbishop of Canterbury

July 11, 2010

rowan williamsMany members of the Church of England will be wondering “where do we go from here”,  the morning after the church’s parliament voted down a compromise amendment put forward by its two most senior clerics.

The liberal wing of the church will probably feel the road is clear ahead for the ordination of women as bishops after the Archbishops of Canterbury and York were foiled, though there is still a long way to go.

(Photo: Archbishop Rowan Williams in Canterbury Cathedral, 4 April 2010/Toby Melville)

But some among the traditionalist Anglo-Catholics and conservative  evangelicals will be wondering where their spiritual home now lies. Some traditionalists may be more persuaded to take up Pope Benedict’s offer made last October to convert to Roman Catholicism, in the knowledge that they would be able to retain some of their traditions and liturgy.

They were so dismayed by the amendment’s defeat in York, northern England, that some asked the archbishop for an urgent meeting before synod resumes its debate on Monday morning, the Thinking Anglicans website said.

It has not been a good week for Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, the spiritual head of the Anglican Church.

Not only did he lose the vote, but his attempt to keep the church together by offering traditionalists concessions, drew criticism from people both within and outside the church.

They said it would appear misogynist and out of date, if passed.

Just days earlier, the archbishop came under came under pressure after the appointment of the openly gay, but celibate, Jeffrey John was blocked by the Crown Nominations Commission to the post of Bishop of Southwark, in south London.

After two such major dents to his authority, some in the media have speculated on whether he would want to stay on.

But both Lambeth Palace and Downing Street have denied the prime minister is drawing up plans in the event of the 60-year-old resigning imminently.

But there is no respite.

williams sentamuAbout 70 disaffected Anglicans, including bishops, priests and lay people, attended a meeting in Leicester, central England, on Saturday to discuss the pope’s offer. High among their concerns were the contentious issue of property, wages and how they would live, as well as more spiritual matters, the Bishop of Nottingham, Malcolm McMahon, told BBC radio.

(Photo: Archbishops Williams and Sentamu in London, February 11, 2009/Kieran Doherty)

There was some succour from the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, who appealed for an end to “spin and propaganda” against his boss. He told the synod before the vote ” enough is enough“, saying “the general disregard for truth” about Williams had to come to an end.

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