Anglican Head Sees ‘Great Opportunity’ for Christians in China

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, said there is a “great opportunity” for Christians to play a role in discussions on social issues in China such as the environment, censorship and the death penalty.

“There is great opportunity for Christians leaders and Christians intellectuals to play their part in these responsible discussions,” said Williams to a crowd of some 700 people, according to Reuters.

The Anglican head shared with believers that some of his most touching and important experiences in his China visit involved seeing people respond to the needs of children, especially orphans. He expressed belief in an “enormous possibility” for the Church and other outreach groups in China to collaborate and reach more people.

However, human rights groups have responded to the archbishop’s positive response to China by highlighting recent religious freedom cases involving the imprisonment and torture of believers.

“Chinese officials cannot credibly claim to be showing the archbishop the face of Christianity in China when they suppress the majority of churches in the country and punish those who refuse to come under state control,” said Tina Lambert, deputy national director of Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), in a statement Friday.

Williams also supported the ideology of a Christianity in China not based or supported by Westerners or Western thinking.

“It is no longer true – if it ever was true – that being Christian is to stop being really Chinese,” Williams said, according to Reuters. “So we are encouraged to see a church that is trying to find its own way forward honestly, to find a language that really belongs to this place.

“It is no kind of (sic) imported Christianity – whether conservative or liberal – that will answer the questions of China.”

The archbishop began his visit to China on Oct. 8 and has toured five cities before ending in Beijing on Oct. 23.