The first thing to be said about Dr. Rowan Williams is that he is by common consent a subtle theologian, a sensitive pastoral priest, and a genuinely good and holy man, because a great many less flattering things will be said about him in the next few months, some of them further down this column. Dr. Williams announced last Friday that he intended to resign at the end of the year as Archbishop of Canterbury and therefore as spiritual leader of the Church of England and, by extension, of the 77 million–strong Anglican Communion around the world.
His announcement came as a surprise. He had been appointed archbishop only ten years ago at the age of 52. As archbishops go, he was a mere stripling. The general expectation had been that he would serve a good round 20 years before handing in his miter. But when the initial shock had faded, his resignation seemed, however regrettably, the right decision.
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