I don’t intend to write much about the departure of Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury. As some of my readers will remember, I have in the past (in fact in 2007) called for his resignation. I am not now rejoicing that he is going, but I do think he has made the right decision, and that it might have been better for him to resign earlier. However, I will resist the temptation to give this post a title like “Better late than never”.
I am glad that the Church Mouse has broken his silence to post Farewell Rowan, tempted by a tweet from myself and no doubt by many other encouragements. But Mouse’s post is very positive about Rowan. Much of this is justified, as indeed
his time as Archbishop has been an impossible one.
He has at least managed to avoid open schism in the Church of England and in the Anglican Communion. But, to provide a balance to the hagiography, I added my own comment, which I am copying here, for wider circulation and for the record:
Thank you for breaking your silence on this matter. But I don’t see the need to extend the convention of not speaking ill of the dead to those who have merely announced their resignation. In many ways Rowan has been an excellent Archbishop. But I still think he failed to show the kind of pro-active leadership which was needed, especially around the 2008 Lambeth Conference. True, he had an impossible task, but I think a stronger leader would have brought about a better outcome.
So can a new man keep the Anglican Communion together and begin to heal the huge fault lines within it? If anyone can, I would think it is John Sentamu – not least because he is the only tipped candidate who is not white British. Or will the new man preside over the Communion’s formal dissolution? If so, I suspect that Rowan will go down in history as the archbishop who allowed it to happen.