Anglican Head Rowan Williams Admits Mistakes in Handling Homosexual Issues

Suggests Creating 'Presidential Figure' Role to Share Burden of Addressing Crises

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By Stoyan Zaimov, Christian Post Reporter
September 11, 2012|4:26 pm

Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams, the spiritual head of the Anglican Communion, has admitted that he could have done more to stop the division that formed in the global body over the issue of homosexuality, and suggested that leading the church might be too much for one person to handle.

"Thinking back over things I don't think I've got right over the last 10 years, I think it might have helped a lot if I'd gone sooner to the United States when things began to get difficult about the ordination of gay bishops, and engaged more directly with the American House of Bishops," Williams, who is retiring from his position in December, shared with the Daily Telegraph.

The Anglican Communion experienced great divisional troubles over the ordination of Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the United States. Same-sex marriage has also been a controversial subject, with the American Episcopalian division of the Anglican community declaring its openness to include homosexual couples in the definition of marriage – something which Williams and the Church of England has strongly stood against in the U.K.

He was especially critical of Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, whose push to legalize gay marriage in the country by 2015 has forced the church to stand up in defense of traditional marriage, but not without facing accusations of homophobia.

"Were we to accept same-sex marriage, that would be a doctrinal change – and the government doesn't do that for us. So I think it is a matter of reasonable anxiety," Williams said in the interview. He insisted that if the state's definition of marriage and the church's definition differ, then that would create a "tangle" for same-sex couples who want to get married at church.

The Archbishop of Canterbury highlighted, however, that the church has been wrong in the past to stand aside and not fight for the civil rights of gays and lesbians.

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"We've not exactly been on the forefront of pressing for civic equality for homosexual people and we were wrong about that," Williams said. He added that he found one of the main problems in addressing tough issues to be the growing demands of the communion.

Williams suggested that some of his decisions as head of the Anglican Communion had disappointed both liberals and conservatives at times, and that there was a need for a "presidential figure" to be appointed in the Church of England so that they could share duties.

Elaborating on this "presidential figure," Williams said that this new role would allow someone to "travel more readily" when called to address important issues affecting the Anglican Communion, but the Archbishop of Canterbury would still remain the official head of the global body.

Despite these problems, the Anglican head reflected that he does not feel "glum" about the state of the church, as he gets ready for his retirement. "In fact, I feel rather positive about it. It's mattered immensely to me to be in a parish almost every Sunday, to be in the diocese regularly, to do the rounds, to be talking to people," he said.

 

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