Category : –Rowan Williams

Rowan Williams–A Sermon for Ascension Day in 2011

Jesus hasn’t just gone away. He has gone deeper into the heart of reality–our reality and God’s. He has become far more than a visible friend and companion; he has shown himself to be the very centre of our life, the source of our loving energy in the world and the source of our prayerful, trustful waiting on God. He has made us able to be a new kind of human being, silently and patiently trusting God as a loving parent, actively and hopefully at work to make a difference in the world, to make the kind of difference love makes.

So if the world looks and feels like a world without God, the Christian doesn’t try to say, ‘It’s not as bad as all that’, or seek to point to clear signs of God’s presence that make everything all right. The Christian will acknowledge that the situation is harsh, even apparently unhopeful–but will dare to say that they are willing to bring hope by what they offer in terms of compassion and service. And their own willingness and capacity for this is nourished by the prayer that the Spirit of Jesus has made possible for them.

The friends of Jesus are called, in other words, to offer themselves as signs of God in the world–to live in such a way that the underlying all-pervading energy of God begins to come through them and make a difference.

Read it all.

Posted in --Rowan Williams, Ascension, Christology, Preaching / Homiletics

A Rowan Williams sermon on the life and ministry of Oscar Romero on Archbishop Romero’s Feast Day

And so his question to all those who have the freedom to speak in the Church and for the Church is ‘who do you really speak for?’ But if we take seriously the underlying theme of his words and witness, that question is also, ‘who do you really feel with?’ Are you immersed in the real life of the Body, or is your life in Christ seen only as having the same sentiments as the powerful? Sentir con la Iglesia in the sense in which the mature Romero learned those words is what will teach you how to speak on behalf of the Body. And we must make no mistake about what this can entail: Romero knew that this kind of ‘feeling with the Church’ could only mean taking risks with and for the Body of Christ – so that, as he later put it, in words that are still shocking and sobering, it would be ‘sad’ if priests in such a context were not being killed alongside their flock. As of course they were in El Salvador, again and again in those nightmare years.

But he never suggests that speaking on behalf of the Body is the responsibility of a spiritual elite. He never dramatised the role of the priest so as to play down the responsibility of the people. If every priest and bishop were silenced, he said, ‘each of you will have to be God’s microphone. Each of you will have to be a messenger, a prophet. The Church will always exist as long as even one baptized person is alive.’ Each part of the Body, because it shares the sufferings of the whole – and the hope and radiance of the whole – has authority to speak out of that common life in the crucified and risen Jesus.

So Romero’s question and challenge is addressed to all of us, not only those who have the privilege of some sort of public megaphone for their voices. The Church is maintained in truth; and the whole Church has to be a community where truth is told about the abuses of power and the cries of the vulnerable. Once again, if we are serious about sentir con la Iglesia, we ask not only who we are speaking for but whose voice still needs to be heard, in the Church and in society at large. The questions here are as grave as they were thirty years ago. In Salvador itself, the methods of repression familiar in Romero’s day were still common until very recently. We can at least celebrate the fact that the present head of state there has not only apologized for government collusion in Romero’s murder but has also spoken boldly on behalf of those whose environment and livelihood are threatened by the rapacity of the mining companies, who are set on a new round of exploitation in Salvador and whose critics have been abducted and butchered just as so many were three decades back. The skies are not clear: our own Anglican bishop in Salvador was attacked ten days ago by unknown enemies; but the signs of hope are there, and the will to defend the poor and heal the wounds.

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Posted in --El Salvador, --Rowan Williams, Church History

(Church Times) Lord Williams backs abuse survivors’ demand for independent safeguarding body at IICSA

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Williams, has given his support to one of the key demands of survivors of clergy abuse: the creation of an independent body to deal with safeguarding cases.

Speaking at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) on Wednesday, Lord Williams said that there was a “strong case” for handing over safeguarding issues to a new agency outside of the normal Church of England structures.

“There’s a strong case for having some such arms-length body,” he replied, when asked about it by the lead counsel to the Inquiry’s investigation into the Anglican Church, Fiona Scolding QC.

Lord Williams said that such a move would, in theory, free the Archbishop to take more of a leadership position in safeguarding for the whole Church, but admitted that the reform might never appear high on “any Archbishop’s list of priorities”.

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Posted in --Rowan Williams, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence

(Tablet) Rowan Williams Admits Failings Over C Of E Child Abuse

The Church of England was “naive and uncritical” when in came to abuses of power by clergy, former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams told the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse.

On day eight of a three-week hearing on the Anglican church as part of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), Lord Williams of Oystermouth said that a mindset in which the authority of an ordained minister was thought to be “beyond criticism” was a “definitely a problem” when it came to preventing abuse.

“So much of this turns on how we understand the exercise of power in the Church, in which we have often been in the past — myself included — naïve and uncritical,” he admitted. “It did take us an unconscionably long time for us to really focus on the need of the complainant and the proper care,” he told the inquiry.

He added that this “top down model of authority” leaves “little mental or spiritual space for a victim to speak out in the confidence that they will be heard”.

Read it all.

Posted in --Rowan Williams, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence

(Christian Today) Rowan Williams: How theology helps us understand ‘Being Human’

[We] are in a cultural and work environment where it seems that individualist assumptions prevail, assumptions about control, assumptions about unavoidable conflict, assumptions about there being always a private area into which we can retreat and shut the doors…If we live in an uncooperative environment, if we’ve developed uncooperative selves, the field is not lost. Something can be reclaimed. But it can be reclaimed only by a careful, systematic challenge to those assumptions about what the human is that so imprison us – a challenge to our (in the broader sense) educational philosophies. That’s a challenge that needs clarity about what a person is and isn’t; clarity about the difference between the person and the mere individual; clarity about the capacity of human agents to do what my sources describe as transcending the merely natural, transcending the simple list of things that happen to be true about me.

Such clarity is not easily available either for a simply materialist view of human life – the human individual as a machine… – or for a purely spiritualist view of human life – human identity is just the sovereign iron will that lives somewhere in here and imposes itself on the world out there. Somewhere in between is an understanding of human identity, human personality, as fascinatingly and inescapably a hybrid reality: material, embedded in the material world, subject to the passage of time, and yet mysteriously able to respond to its environment so as to make a different environment; able to go beyond the agenda that is set, to reshape what is around; above all, committed to receiving and giving, to being dependent as well as independent, because that’s what relation is. I am neither a machine nor a self-contained soul. I’m a person because I am spoken to, I’m attended to, and I’m spoken and attended and loved into actual existence. Which takes us back to the question of human dignity and the sacred, and to that pervasive, mysterious, nagging sense that there is always something about the other person that’s to do with what I can’t see and that can’t be mastered.

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Posted in --Rowan Williams, Anthropology, Books, Theology

(Spectator) Tim Wyatt–Archbishop Justin Welby’s stance on sharia law is a welcome relief

In firmly rejecting [Rowan] Williams’s proposals, Welby has identified the problems with integrating sharia law. But he’s also done more than that, by giving an insight into the vital role the Church of England can play in community cohesion. Unlike criticism from politicians or the press, Welby can speak to Muslim communities – who often feel excluded, misunderstood and hated – from a position of sympathy not antagonism. As a fellow person of faith, he has a voice in these knotty questions of law, God and ethics that no government minister or newspaper editorial could offer. When he calmly but clearly explains why sharia cannot be incorporated into British law he has a chance of actually being heard by British Muslims. He and his fellow Anglicans, with their long track record of standing up for minority faith groups, can and must act as critical friends to other believers, challenging and protecting in equal measure. In doing so they will build greater cross-cultural harmony than any Home Office strategy ever could.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, --Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Muslim-Christian relations, Religion & Culture

(Telegraph) Don’t let faith schools take in more pupils on the basis of religion, leaders warn

Faith schools must not be allowed to admit more children on the basis of religion, leaders have warned.

In a letter to the Daily Telegraph a group of 70 faith leaders, politicians and academics warned that lifting a cap which stops new faith schools admitting more than 50 per cent of children on the basis of religion would be “deleterious to social cohesion and respect”.

The signatories, led by former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams and Andrew Copson, chief executive of Humanists UK, warn that the policy, promised in the Conservative manifesto, “allows schools to label children at the start of their lives with certain beliefs and then divide them up on that basis.”

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Posted in --Rowan Williams, Education, England / UK, Religion & Culture

Rowan Williams: Nativity is a powerful reminder of our own vulnerability and weakness

Dr Williams is chair of Christian Aid and called for support for its Christmas appeal as he said, ‘life doesn’t have to be like this. We can build a world with deeper justice, greater fairness, greater security for all.’

He said: ‘One of the most serious forms of powerlessness that anyone can experience is, of course, hunger. Take a country like South Sudan: after years of merciless and bloody civil war, food security has become a major question in South Sudan. This year, a famine was declared. Countless young people faced starvation. It’s not the only place in Africa, or indeed throughout the world, where this is a problem. Places like Burkina Faso are facing some of the same challenges.

‘But South Sudan is particularly vivid in my own memory: I visited there a couple of times in the last 10 years. I’ve seen what life is like in the refugee camps. I’ve seen the feeding programmes, combined with educational programmes, that many local churches and charities take up. The challenge is enormous, and it’s one that we are determined to face this Christmas, and to respond to. A gift of £10 will feed a family in South Sudan for a week. A gift of £40, for a month.’

Read it all.

Posted in --Rowan Williams, --South Sudan, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Christmas, Poverty, Stewardship

The Sermon by the Rt Revd Dr Rowan Williams, read at the Solemn Requiem for Bishop Geoffrey Rowell

Geoffrey worked with myself and our dear friend Kenneth Stevenson on a book entitled Love’s Redeeming Work, an anthology of spiritual writing in the Anglican tradition. I don’t think that
Kenneth would mind if I said that the heavy lifting, in terms of the volume as far as the later period was concerned, was done by Geoffrey in his heroic labours on the vast mountain of
material from the late eighteenth to the twentieth century. His share of that book reflects those Tractarian roots already mentioned, but it also reflects the generous engagement which made him so open to, and so enthusiastic about, resources well beyond his own tradition, including resources beyond the United Kingdom. His voice was always advocating in the editorial
discussions we shared for a better and more accurate representation in the book of Anglicanism outside Europe and North America.

In the introduction to his section of that volume, the last page touches briefly on a number of perhaps predictable theological heroes – Lightfoot and Westcott, of course; Archbishop
Michael Ramsey; and then, more surprisingly, Charles Kingsley and Charles Raven. There they are, rubbing shoulders in one paragraph – probably as uncomfortable there in each other’s
company as they no doubt are in the Kingdom of Heaven. In that paragraph Geoffrey speaks of two things which this unlikely calendar of saints might have in common as representatives
of Anglican identity. He speaks of those great Anglican teachers, above all Archbishop Ramsey, for whom ‘contemplative prayer was not just for enclosed religious’, and he speaks
of what he calls the ‘characteristically Anglican sympathy with new knowledge’: a depth of hinterland in prayer and devotion, a sympathy with new knowledge – never uncritical, but
never hostile.

Then, in the last paragraph, he goes on to quote another name familiar to Geoffrey’s friends – John Henry Newman, on the Church that ‘changes always in order to remain the same’. To
believe that at a time of rapid, disorientating change, is particularly hard. But Geoffrey held to that and lived by it; and that is why he turns, at the very end of that introductory essay, to Lancelot Andrewes – and to T. S. Eliot: the tongues of flame in-folded, the fire and the rose one. If Jesus is indeed the resurrection and the life, and if because of that we cannot fall into nothingness, it is because the fiery trial of discipleship and ministry in Christ’s Church is not to be separated from the flowering of God’s generous purposes and the fulfilment of our humanity in ways we cannot imagine. We do not fall away, for God is God, and Christ is God. Knowing this is the key to knowing ourselves and knowing what song is sung by the whole of reality. Remember Geoffrey’s pitch in hearing and singing that song. And so we endure – as the Apostle says, ‘abounding in the work of the Lord’, as did Geoffrey
so abundantly. And we look with him at the cloud of witnesses, alive with the living Lord whom he adored and adores.

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Posted in --Rowan Williams, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

A Look Back to the Telegraph in 2003–“[Archbishop Rowan] Williams denounces same-sex marriages”

The Archbishop of Canterbury and his fellow Anglican leaders denounced gay marriages yesterday in an effort to avert schism in the worldwide Church.
In a unanimous statement, the primates, who are the heads of the Church’s 38 provinces, distanced themselves from maverick bishops who are poised to introduce same-sex blessings.
The move will dismay the Church’s liberal wing, which had hoped that Dr Rowan Williams and other reforming primates would champion their cause.
But it will be welcomed by traditionalists and should postpone a fundamental split in the Church over homosexuality, the most divisive issue it has faced since women priests.
In a pastoral letter released after a critical summit meeting in Brazil last week, the primates said that “the question of public rites for the blessing of same-sex unions is still a cause of potentially divisive controversy”.
They added: “There is no theological consensus. . .therefore we, as a body, cannot support the authorisation of such rites.”

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Posted in --Rowan Williams, Anglican Primates, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(New Statesman) Rowan Williams on Rod Drehers’ new book-The Benedict Option:a new monasticism for the 21st c.

The lack of specific discussion of groups such as the Catholic Worker movement and the Bruderhof is such that it is hard to envisage just what Dreher’s Benedict-inspired communities might look like – though he strongly commends home-schooling and likes the idea of orthodox believers living in close proximity to one another and to their church. What is left most worryingly vague is how such groups might maintain a level of self-criticism, and how they would handle issues around authority and management of conflict. Benedict has a fair bit to say about this, and Dreher shows he is aware of it and of the problem of alienating a younger generation by excessive exclusivism. However, more information on how actual communities have discovered and handled (or failed to handle) such matters would help.

The Benedict Option is unsettling. It confronts the prevailing consensus about how far the majority is willing to make room for principled dissent and public argument – yet at the same time shows a rather dispiriting lack of confidence in public argument. It puts a solid and appealing case for religious communities to be more serious about the disciplines that sustain prayer, compassion and integrity; but it is also a jeremiad against the decline of a certain sort of American public piety, and the sinister plans of relativists and revisionists.

The book is worth reading because it poses some helpfully tough questions to a socially liberal majority, as well as to believers of a more traditional colour. Yet it also fails to note the irony of advocating what it does in a climate where liberal triumphalism has already been shaken by a very un-Benedictine set of influences, through the resurgence of populist conservatism and protectionism. And neither restating liberal nostrums nor Dreher’s “strategy of hibernation” – to borrow a phrase from Adorno – seems an adequate answer to this.

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Posted in --Rowan Williams, Church History, Religion & Culture, Theology

Rowan Williams–A Sermon for Ascension Day in 2011

Jesus hasn’t just gone away. He has gone deeper into the heart of reality–our reality and God’s. He has become far more than a visible friend and companion; he has shown himself to be the very centre of our life, the source of our loving energy in the world and the source of our prayerful, trustful waiting on God. He has made us able to be a new kind of human being, silently and patiently trusting God as a loving parent, actively and hopefully at work to make a difference in the world, to make the kind of difference love makes.

So if the world looks and feels like a world without God, the Christian doesn’t try to say, ‘It’s not as bad as all that’, or seek to point to clear signs of God’s presence that make everything all right. The Christian will acknowledge that the situation is harsh, even apparently unhopeful–but will dare to say that they are willing to bring hope by what they offer in terms of compassion and service. And their own willingness and capacity for this is nourished by the prayer that the Spirit of Jesus has made possible for them.

The friends of Jesus are called, in other words, to offer themselves as signs of God in the world–to live in such a way that the underlying all-pervading energy of God begins to come through them and make a difference.

Read it all.

Posted in --Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ascension, Preaching / Homiletics

Rowan Williams Interviewed by the THE

What guidance can religious leaders offer in these times of political uncertainty and polarisation?
I think that religious leaders have an absolute duty to be crystal clear about human equality, about the porous nature of national boundaries, about the indivisible character of human interests and well-being. In other words, you can’t have a globe in which one bit of the human race profits indefinitely at the expense of another, or in which the suffering of one part of the human race is irrelevant to the well-being of another. I think that’s built into the DNA of every major religious tradition and that’s perhaps what religious leaders should be saying.

Have academics and religious leaders become more politicised recently?
I think they have always been political. If you look at the history of the university in the 17th century, the great political arguments get hammered out in universities as much as in court or in Parliament, so I don’t think that there’s anything new about academics or religious leaders having a political profile. I think that sometimes we nurture a bit of a fiction that, in the old days, clergy and dons just kept to themselves; they never did.

How has higher education changed in the past five to 10 years?
The public rhetoric around it has become much more oriented towards the idea of the student as a consumer, and a great deal of publicity has been predicated on that.

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Posted in --Rowan Williams, Education, Religion & Culture

(Guardian) Rowan Williams–It remains Britain’s moral duty to help refugee children

Last week’s announcement from government that it will close the route opened for some of the most vulnerable refugee children to Britain by Lord Dubs falls far short of our better selves and the example set by those before us.

The route was opened by Lord Dubs to enable a safe passage to Britain for the most vulnerable refugee children. His amendment last year drew exceptionally wide cross-party and public support. Lord Dubs was himself a survivor of the Kindertransport efforts to save Jewish children fleeing the Nazis on the eve of the Second World War.

Those efforts typified something of the best in us. A steadfast and quiet determination to protect children and the most vulnerable and to do so in time when the threat is urgent.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Rowan Williams, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Children, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Immigration, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Theology

(New Statesman) Rowan Williams–Mass democracy has failed ”“ it's time to seek a humane alternative

The problem is deeper. Trump’s campaign succeeded in spite of the cast-iron demonstrations of his total indifference to truth (not to mention decency). It has offered not a connected strategy for national reconstruction, but an incoherent series of crowd-pleasing postures; as if Trump’s real aim was not to do anything as president but simply to be president, to be the most important man in the Western world. This election represents a divorce between the electoral process and the business of political decision-making. It is the ersatz politics of mass theatre, in which what matters most is the declaration of victory.

As such, it is the most cynical betrayal of those who are disenfranchised. It confirms that they have no part in real political processes; they can only choose their monarch. They have become detached from the work of politics by the erosion of liberties and economic opportunities ”“ one reason why there is such pressure to displace this on to a feverish defence of archaic “freedoms” such as gun ownership, and on to whatever scapegoated minority can be held responsible for unemployment or general insecurity.

The politics of mass democracy has failed. It has been narrowed down to a mechanism for managing large-scale interests in response to explicit and implicit lobbying by fabulously well-resourced commercial and financial concerns (ironically, one of the things that Trump has undertaken to change). The 2008 financial crisis sent a tremor through that world but failed to change its workings. The effect has been a growing assumption that what goes on in public political debate does not represent any voices other than the privileged and self-interested. And so, for significant parts of a population, “theatrical” politics comes to look like the only option: a dramatic articulation of the problems of powerlessness, for which the exact details of economic or social reality are irrelevant. This delivers people into the hands of another kind of dishonest politics: the fact-free manipulation of emotion by populist adventurers.

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Rowan Williams, America/U.S.A., Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Office of the President, Politics in General, Theology