From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ACNS3306 Archbishop of Canterbury speaks to the UK press

From "Anglican Communion News Service" <>
Date Fri, 14 Feb 2003 13:02:49 -0000

ACNS 3306     |     ENGLAND	|     14 FEBRUARY 2003

Archbishop of Canterbury speaks to the UK press

by Matthew Davies

The Editor of the Daily Telegraph, Mr Charles Moore, recently conducted an
extensive interview with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Rowan
Williams, just two weeks before the official Enthronement Service takes
place at Canterbury Cathedral. This is the first daily newspaper interview
that the Archbishop has given. The Sunday Times ran an interview by
Christopher Morgan on 2 February.

Reflecting upon his childhood with fond memories, the Archbishop described
to Mr Moore that one of his first impressions of the Anglican tradition was
how the whole Christian enterprise hung together in an imaginative and
intellectual way. Originally a member of the Presbyterian Church of Wales,
he recalls how the 'discovery of liturgical life...was tremendously

Archbishop Rowan described the Anglican liturgy as a grand narrative. "It is
a story of what the world is like, and within that how different aspects of
how we see God knit together," he said. "I'm very interested in what can be
done, what I can do, in promoting good, imaginative and solid liturgy."

One of the difficulties of contemporary religion has been the interpretation
of the scriptures, something that the Archbishop has been accused of abusing
by his detractors. In analogical terms Archbishop Rowan says that
'Shakespeare's Macbeth tells us only some limited things about 11th century
Scotland, quite a bit about 16th century England and an awful lot about
human nature. And that is what it is meant to do. And I suspect that quite a
lot of narratives in the Old Testament are actually meant to work at that

Regarding the looming war with Iraq the Archbishop congratulated Tony Blair
for his commitment to a moral vision of international affairs and a very
strong belief that it is possible to intervene successfully. His two
greatest anxieties are "the needs and the problems of Christians [and other
minorities] in the region, and...the precedents set by pre-emptive military

Furthermore, he indicated his respect for George Bush, speaking of the US
President's determination to avoid a repeat of the devastating events that
took place on September 11. He did, however, share his concern about any one
country taking on the role of 'global policeman.'

Another concern that the Archbishop voiced in the interview was the
conclusions that are drawn about Muslims and he spoke about the eagerness of
most people in Muslim communities to distance themselves from the terrorist
rhetoric. "[Islam] is a religion whose primary focus and interest is about
unity, the unity of God and the unity of the faithful community under God,"
he said. "It is one community under God. That is what has given Islam its
moral power and passion through the centuries. Whereas Christianity has, I
think, been more inclined to ironies and paradoxes, which has made the
Muslims very impatient with us."

Ever since the announcement was made last year about the appointment of
Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury, the interest of the secular
press has been centred on the issue of sexuality. Some Evangelical
Christians contend that Dr William's teachings are not in line with the
teachings of the Bible. Responding to Charles Moore, Archbishop Williams
said, "On homosexuality in general, my worry is that while we talk about
particular bits of sexual ethics, we as Christians are in danger of losing
the big cultural argument about sexuality; that it is a gift of God to be
exercised in a way that shows God's faithfulness and commitment.

"My slight unease about the way in which debates have been set up recently
is...that we are not looking at what the real heart of Christian teaching is
in sexual ethics."

Other issues discussed in the interview included fox hunting, same-sex
blessings and the role that Prince Charles will inherit as 'Defender of the

For the full text of the interview please visit:

The ACNSlist is published by the Anglican Communion Office, London.

*** Latest details concerning the Enthronement of the Most Revd Rowan
*** as the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury are available from:

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