Tributes paid to outgoing Archbishop Dr Rowan Williams

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Tributes have been paid to outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams after he announced he would be stepping down at the end of the year.

Dr Williams, who was appointed the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury in 2002, will be taking up the position of Master of Magdelene College in Cambridge in January 2013.

His intentions have been conveyed to the Queen, who is Supreme Governor of the Church of England and who formally appoints the position.

The Crown Nominations Commission will consider the selection of a successor in due course.

Dr Williams, who heads the 85 million-strong Anglican Communion in his current role, said it had been an immense privilege to serve as Archbishop of Canterbury and moving on had not been as easy decision.

“During the time remaining there is much to do and I ask for your prayers and support in this period and beyond,” he said.

Under his leadership, the Church of England has been involved in controversial debates on issues including the ordination of gay clergy and women bishops.

Dr Williams has openly supported the ordination of woman and made no objection to the appointment of a gay bishop in Reading.

Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev James Langstaff, said he was sad to see Dr Williams stepping down and paid tribute to his “distinctive contributions” to the contentious debates.

“I value so much his contributions in many settings,” he said.

“His wisdom, learning and prayerfulness stand out. He has been in post through times of significant change and debate within both church and wider society.

“In both settings he has made his distinctive contribution, not least with some of his thinking about the values on which we base our national life.

“Despite what some may say, I think we will come to realise that he has held the unity of the church through these times in a way that few others could have done.

“I believe, for example, that over the ordination of women as bishops, it is he who is helping us chart a way forward which stands a good possibility of gaining wide support at the General Synod in July.”

The Bishop of Dover, the Rt Rev Trevor Willlmott, who deals with local matters in the absence of the Archbishop, said Dr Williams was deeply valued in the Diocese for his “leadership, pastoral experience, prayerful commitment and warmth”.

“I’m deeply grateful for his personal support and I shall miss him as a colleague and a friend,” he added.

Canterbury Diocesan Secretary Julian Hills wished Dr Williams the best for the future.

“It has been a delight to work with Archbishop Rowan. He has always given his fullest support to the work of Canterbury Diocese and to the laity and clergy who work and worship in churches in this area,” he said.

Dr Williams will continue to carry out his duties until the end of the year.

The responsibility for choosing the next Archbishop of Canterbury rests with the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) which submits the name of a preferred candidate and a second appointable candidate to the Prime Minster.

The CNC will have an initial meeting at the end of May to agree a process which will take place over the summer.



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