Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Welcome to Canterbury

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Welcome to Canterbury

Article excerpt

THE APPOINTMENT of Rowan Williams as the next Archbishop of Canterbury is good news for the Established Church and good news also for the nation.

The Church of England, long demoralised by falling attendance figures, unceasing disputes about women clergy and a running financial crisis, needs the fillip that a strong and charismatic leader can provide. And Rowan Williams is such a man. Crucially, he is an intelligent individual who can articulate Christian doctrine in a manner that is intelligible and convincing. He has strong convictions and will, therefore, provide leadership on fraught matters of doctrine and practice, rather than simply presiding over a drift to an uneasy consensus in the usual Anglican fashion. He seems also willing to listen to those with whom he disagrees. He is not afraid to speak his mind, whether on military intervention in Afghanistan or the commercial exploitation of children by global corporations. He gives the impression of entering such debates after considered thought, not just in order to draw attention to himself or to create controversy for the sake of appearing radical. A respected theologian on matters of basic doctrine, he is an orthodox Christian. He will, therefore, be a valuable addition to public life, much more than he ever was as Archbishop of Wales. The wellbeing of the Church of England is something that should concern us, whether or not we actually attend its services. Christianity still expresses the spiritual and moral values of the majority of English people, and for most people, Christianity chiefly means the Anglican Church. Even those who belong to other faiths appreciate the social and educational contribution that the Church makes to the nation. It is, therefore, in all our interests that it should have a strong, articulate leader who can put the case for Christianity convincingly to an increasingly secular society and provide leadership for his embattled clergy. Rowan Williams is an admirable choice for Canterbury; we wish him well.

Balancing act

THE PRIME Minister and the Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid will address the Commons today on the state of the IRA ceasefire, amid expectations that both republican and loyalist paramilitaries will be shown a yellow card for the continuing level of street violence, including fatal shootings, in Belfast. …

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