Williams: a disestablished church has a “certain integrity”

Update: The interview is here (in print and audio). More links added below.


Rowan Williams, is interviewed in the Christmas Edition of the New Statesman. The Times reports on some of the Archbishop’s remarks. An extract:

“I spent ten years working in a disestablished Church and I can see that it’s by no means the end of the world if the establishment disappears. The strength of it is that the last vestiges of state sanction disappeared, so when you took a vote at the Welsh Synod, it didn’t have to be nodded through by parliament afterwards. There is a certain integrity to that.”

But Dr Williams said he did not think it should be on the agenda at the present time.

He said: “At the same time, my unease about going for straight disestablishment is to do with the fact that it’s a very shaky time for the public presence of faith in society. I think the motives that would now drive disestablishment from the state side would be mostly to do with . . . trying to push religion into the private sphere, and that’s the point where I think I’d be bloody-minded and say, ‘Well, not on that basis.'”

It has been noted that as an established church, the Church of England could note sign on to an Anglican Covenant.

The Guardian also has a story.

Ruth Gledhill has more at her blog — Williams was also asked about Sharia.

Thursday morning: Thinking Anglicans has a complete roundup, including several making the point that Williams “used to be more forthrightly anti-establishment.” Another significant point is that no government is likely to take on disestablishment simply because it would be a diversion from more important issues. Again, that raises the question of how the Church of England could accede to an Anglican Covenant.

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