Rowan Williams and friends, as the press reported them.

‘If there’s one thing I long for above all else, it’s that the years to come may see Christianity in this country able again to capture the imagination of our culture, to draw the strongest energies of our thinking and feeling.’ (Archbishop Rowan Williams, commenting on his own appointment, as reported by the BBC)

‘A future leader of the Church of England needs to grasp the nettle that has been scrupulously avoided for at least ten years. In a desperate attempt to keep everybody happy it has ‘soft-talked’ the most reactionary groups in the Church, and has inadvertently given them huge power to block any kind of creative change – particularly in the areas of gender, race and sexuality. What this leads to is gross injustice to some of the most vulnerable members of our churches, and the very real humiliation of women priests properly ordained within the Church.’ (The Reverend Mary Robins, on behalf of GRAS, reported by the BBC)

‘The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) has warmly welcomed the announcement today that Dr Rowan Williams is to be the new Archbishop of Canterbury. LGCM General Secretary, the Reverend Richard Kirker said: “This is extraordinarily good news and we are tremendously excited. We applaud the courage and vision of those who have made this bold and brave decision. Dr Williams’ demonstrable commitment to justice and dignity for all people, including lesbians and gay men gives us great heart. For the first time lesbian and gay Anglicans can feel that they have a real friend at Lambeth. No longer will we need to feel shut out of the heart of the Church. Rowan counts many of us as his friends, his knowledge and understanding of the feelings of exclusion we have experienced can only lead to greater understanding of our lives. For too long the Church of England has marginalized lesbian and gay people. It has been responsible for legitimizing prejudice, discrimination and injustice. Dr Williams’ reputation as a man of prayer and reflection gives us great hope that those days are now coming to an end. Dr Williams has had many friends over the years from our community. He understands our stories and has listened to our grievances.”’ (LGCM Press release)

‘Williams supports the ordination of women and gay people. He has condemned the recent US bombing of Afghanistan as “morally tainted” and been arrested in peace protests. He has said he is willing to bless the marriage of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles. And he supports more separation between church and state in the United Kingdom, where the Queen is titular head of the Church.’ (Gay City News, New York)

‘One observer says Dr Williams’ address to the 1998 Lambeth Conference, the meeting staged each decade of all the worldwide Anglican church’s bishops, “was seen as the most erudite, though the least understood”’ (BBC News Online)

‘I am very pleased with the appointment of Rowan Williams to be the next Archbishop of Canterbury. He is well known and highly respected across the Anglican Communion, in ecumenical circles, and here in the United States. The combination of a keen mind and a contemplative heart, together with an ability to relate classical Christian tradition to the needs and struggles of our world, make him eminently qualified to take up this important and challenging ministry of service.’ (Frank T Griswold, Presiding Bishop of ECUSA)

‘He’s the best theologian in Britain and thoroughly orthodox. But society has been dechristianized so rapidly very few people recognize what an orthodox Christian is and believe what a few noisy Evangelicals tell them.’ (Dr Nicholas Lash, reported in The Independent)

‘Perhaps the most fitting characterization of the next Archbishop of Canterbury comes from a close acquaintance, who prefers to remain anonymous. He called the Most Reverend Rowan Williams a ‘brilliant chameleon’. (United Press International, Washington)

‘Why does Williams, an Anglo-Catholic, favour the consecration of women as bishops, knowing that this would kill any chance of reconciliation with the Church of Rome and Eastern Orthodoxy, to both of whom even women priests are ontological absurdities?’ (United Press International, Washington)

‘He’s got one of the finest theological minds, he’s already been shown to be a tremendous unifying force for the Church in Wales … and he prefers to lead by consensus rather than diktat. I believe the Church is in for an exciting ride with someone who is not defensive, and who is open and engaged with contemporary issues of today.’ (Christian Rees reported by the BBC, and passim)

‘Dès sa prise de fonctions, en octobre, M. Williams va devoir s’échiner à concilier les différences: celles d’une Eglise anglicane écartelée entre progressistes gays et lesbiennes et conservateurs du courant évangéliste, entre pays riches et pauvres. Même si elle continue de rythmer la vie du royaume, l’institution perd ses fidèles. A peine un million de personnes se rendraient à la messe dominicale.’ (Le Monde)

‘Only days before his interview, in a visit to Uganda, Archbishop Williams said that his views on homosexuality were in a minority in the Anglican Communion. In response to questions after a lecture he gave at the Uganda Christian University, Archbishop Williams drew a distinction between conclusions he came to as a theological professor and what the Church officially says. “And I hope there may still be the possibility of thinking through these issues and saying: “Well, we don’t know all the answers yet, and not assuming straight away that this is the one issue that must divide us as Christians.” That I know, is a controversial point of view. I wish I could say more wholeheartedly that I accept every aspect of the traditional teaching and that I accept personally every aspect of what the majority of people in my Church believe. I can’t say that in conscience … So my hope is not to impose a view from America or Britain or anywhere else on any other province, but to see if we can go on talking prayerfully with each other, reading the Bible together with each other, to see what we can learn.”’ (from the Website of ‘Changing Attitude’)