Rowan Williams sorry over Anglican Church’s past treatment of gays

Archbishop of Canterbury, who will be stepping down in December, has admitted he has not done enough to stop divisions in the Church

Rowan Williams sorry over Anglican Church’s past treatment of gays
09 September 2012

In one of his last interviews as the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams has admitted he did not do enough to prevent divisions within the Anglican Church over homosexuality.

Williams, who will be stepping down as the head of the Church of England in December, has said the church was wrong for its past treatment of gay people.

In an interview with British newspaper The Telegraph, he said: ‘We’ve not exactly been on the forefront of pressing for civic equality for homosexual people, and we were wrong about that.

‘We should have clarified the distinction between what we want to say, and the rights of the citizen.’

The 62-year-old has spent much of his decade as archbishop trying to hold the diverse Anglican Church together after the first openly gay bishop, an American called Gene Robinson, was ordained.

Splitting both traditionalists, such as African churches, and liberals, Williams pointed to Robinson as when he should have intervened.

He said: ‘I don’t think I’ve got it right over the last 10 years.

‘It might have helped a lot if I’d gone sooner to the United States when things began to get difficult about the ordination of gay bishops, and engaged more directly.

The Church of England is now deeply divided, with some leaders fighting against same-sex marriage, and some believing it should be legalized in England and Wales.

A Welsh vicar, for example, left his post after 33 years of preaching because of the church’s fight against marriage equality.

Williams said: ‘The Church declares in its liturgy marriage is between a man and a woman, so we can’t simply nod through the change in that respect,’ he said.

The archbishop added he had tried to do more for gay people in the church, such as granting partners of gay bishops the same pension as their heterosexual peers.

After stepping down, Williams will take up a new post in January as the master of Magdalene College, Cambridge.

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