Sex, War, Poverty and Human Rights: The World According to the New Archbishop of Canterbury: Analysis: Church of England ; Much Has Been Written about Rowan Williams, Who Is Enthroned Today as 104th Archbishop of Canterbury; Little of It Has Been So Interesting as the Writings of Dr Williams Himself. Paul Vallely Presents a Selection of the Thoughts of a Prolific and Perceptive Churchman

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Can we stop talking so much about "war" and reconcile ourselves to the fact that the punishment of terrorist crime and the gradual reduction of its threat cannot be translated into the satisfying language of decisive and dramatic conquest? Can we try thinking more about the place of risk and even loss in ordinary civil society and about the moral resources needed to grapple with the continuing problems of shaping a lawful international order? Can we, for God's sake, let go of the fantasies nurtured by the capacity for hi-tech aerial assault? As if the first move in any modern conflict had to be precision bombing?

If we stopped talking about war so much, we might be spared the posturing that suggests that any questioning of current methods must be weakness at best, treason at worst.

Writing in the Dust, 2002


Have we, we ask, an adequate vocabulary for speaking of evil? Does modernity allow for evil or only for a thinly conceived good and bad or, worse still, progressive and reactionary, useful and redundant? That leaves us linguistically bereaved ... "Evil" becomes a trivially emotive way of referring to what we hate or fear or just disapprove of (in the style beloved of American presidents), rather than a reminder of the fact that there are aspects of human behaviour which we only make sense of when we say we can't make sense.

Raymond Williams Lecture, Hay Festival, June 2002


Marriage is about more than just stability; it's about the risk of passionate commitment - wanting the fellowship of another so deeply that you mortgage your own abstract freedom by a rash public promise intended for life.

Presidential Address to governing body of the Church in Wales, April 2000


We have had the chance to read the messages sent by passengers on the planes to their spouses and families in the desperate last minutes; and we have seen the spiritual advice apparently given to the terrorists by one of their number, the thoughts that should have been in their minds as they approached the death they had chosen (for themselves and for others). Something of the chill of 11 September 2001 lies in the contrast.

The religious words are, in the cold light of day, the words that murderers are saying to themselves to make a martyr's drama out of a crime. The non-religious words are testimony to what religious language is supposed to be about - the triumph of pointless, gratuitous love, the affirming of faithfulness even when there is nothing to be done or salvaged.

It should give us pause, especially if we think we are religious. You don't have to be Richard Dawkins to notice that there is a problem.

Writing in the Dust, 2002


All faiths, all views of the world (including atheism!) are capable of being distorted. People whose lives are already twisted and damaged use faith as they use other things in twisted and damaged ways. And if you try to shut religious faith out of the public arena, to shut it out of education or politics, you are actually encouraging faith to become narrower and more isolated, more liable to be misused by fanatics.

Christmas Message 2001


If we are looking for a sexual ethic that can be seriously informed by our Bible, there is a good deal to steer us away from assuming reproductive sex is a norm, however important and theologically significant it may be.

The Body's Grace, July 1989

I don't see my task as going around the bedroom with a magnifying glass doing surveillance. I do see my job as making sure that someone who is going to be a priest in the Church is taking full responsibility for all that means ... I am not convinced that a homosexual has to be celibate in every imaginable circumstance. But if that were the case I would also want to be sure that their attitude to their sexual habits is a responsible, prayerful and theologically informed one. …