Rowan Williams

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Dr Rowan Williams
Lord Archbishop of Canterbury

The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Rowan Douglas Williams, FBA (born 14 June 1950) is the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, a theologian, poet and lecturer.

Rowan Williams was born in Swansea, Wales, into a Welsh-speaking family. He was educated at Dynevor School, Swansea, at Christ's College, Cambridge, and at Christ Church and Wadham College, Oxford where he obtained his doctorate. He has taught theology at the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge, where he was Dean of Clare College.

In 1991 he was elected Bishop of Monmouth, and in 1999 he was made Archbishop of Wales. In 2002 he was announced as the successor to George Carey as Archbishop of Canterbury in the Church of England and, therefore, leader of the Anglican Communion, even though technically he was not even a member of the Church of England, but the (non-established) Church in Wales. He was enthroned on 27 February 2003.

Williams's selection as Archbishop prompted divergent reactions. Many commentators welcomed his evident intellectual gifts and regarded him as a figure who could make Christianity credible to the intelligent unbeliever. On the other hand some evangelical Anglicans were troubled by his opinions on the ordination of women as bishops and on homosexuality, and some also regarded as unorthodox his views on central doctrinal issues such as revelation, sin and salvation.

He courted controversy in August 2002 when he was inducted into the Gorsedd of Bards, a pseudo-ancient Welsh honorary order which involves "druidic" ceremonies but is not explicitly religious. In March 2004, in a speech at Downing Street and in an article published in The Guardian, he praised Philip Pullman's trilogy His Dark Materials, which was described by the Association of Christian Teachers as "shameless blasphemy" and by the Catholic Herald as "fit for the bonfire". Williams' view was that the proper Christian response to Pullman's novel was an intelligent critique that recognised the book's considerable literary merits, rather than a simple condemnation.

In March 2004 he criticised the ITV television series Footballers' Wives for representing what he saw as the immorality of much contemporary British life, claiming that it reflected "a world in which charity and fairness, generosity, a sense of perspective about yourself are all swept aside."

On 30 June 2004, together with the Archbishop of York, David Hope, and on behalf of all 114 Anglican bishops, he wrote to Tony Blair, expressing deep concern about UK government policy and criticising the coalition troops' conduct in Iraq. The letter cited the abuse of Iraqi detainees, which was described as having been "deeply damaging" - and stated that the government's apparent double standards "diminish the credibility of western governments". (BBC) ( (The Scotsman) (

In September 2004 he admitted that his faith had been tested by the Beslan hostage crisis, in which over 300 people were killed in a terrorist attack on a school in southern Russia. [1] (

On 31 March 2005, he voiced disquiet in a Newsnight interview regarding the use of fear tactics and negativity about issues such as immigration and crime by the various party campaigning in the British elections. He attended the funeral of Pope John Paul II, the first Archbishop of Canterbury to attend a funeral of a Pope since the break under King Henry VIII. He attended the installation of Pope Benedict XVI, as did his predecessor Donald Coggan. (The Times Online) (,,20709-1579867,00.html) - The Times subsequently published a correction of this story.

Dr Williams's summer residence is in the Oxfordshire town of Charlbury, and when resident on Sundays, he worships at the local church.

Preceded by:
Royston Wright
Bishop of Monmouth
Succeeded by:
Dominic Walker
Preceded by:
Alwyn Rice Jones
Archbishop of Wales
Succeeded by:
Barry Morgan
Preceded by:
George Leonard Carey
Archbishop of Canterbury
Succeeded by:
Current Incumbent

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  • Why Study the Past? (2005)
  • Anglican Identities (2004)
  • Arius: Heresy and Tradition (2nd ed. 2001)
  • After Silent Centuries (1994)
  • Christ on Trial (2000)
  • Christianity and the Ideal of Detatchment (1989)
  • Darkness Yielding (2004)
  • The Dwelling of the Light (2003)
  • Eucharistic Sacrifice: The Roots of a Metaphor (1982)
  • Faith and Experience in Early Monasticism (2002)
  • Faith in the University (1989)
  • Lost Icons: Essays on Cultural Bereavement (2003)
  • On Christian Theology (2000)
  • Open to Judgement: Sermons and Addresses (1984)
  • Peacemaking Theology (1984)
  • The Poems of Rowan Williams (2002)
  • Resurrection: Interpreting the Easter Gospel (2nd ed. 2002)
  • Silence and Honey Cakes: The Wisdom of the Desert (2003)
  • Teresa of Avila (2003)
  • The Wound of Knowledge (2nd ed 1990)

See also

External links

cy:Rowan Williams de:Rowan Williams no:Rowan Douglas Williams pt:Rowan Douglas Williams


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