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Dr Williams to take three months off

03 April 2007

by Pat Ashworth

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has not yet decided whether he will go to the United States to meet the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church in the United States (ECUSA), a Lambeth spokeswoman said on Monday.

ECUSA must make a response by 30 September to the ultimatum given by the Primates’ Meeting in Tanzania to clarify its position on same-sex blessings (News, 23 February). However, a meeting of ECUSA’s House of Bishops two weeks ago rejected the Primates’ scheme for oversight for dissenting congregations, and asked for an urgent meeting with Dr Williams and the Primates’ Standing Committee (News, 23 March).

Dr Williams is to take a three-month period of leave from June, incorporating two months of study, followed by a month’s holiday in August. He first publicly broached his plans in December, when he told a presenter of the Today programme on Radio 4, Ed Stourton: “I’m hoping to take a couple of months to slow down; to do some study; to get out of Lambeth a bit; and, yes, read a little, pray a bit more.”

Dr Williams described the leave as “not exactly a sabbatical, as it’s not simply unwinding. I’ll be doing some bits of work — some catching up.” When asked whether the Church could run itself without him, he responded: “I should think they’ll have no great difficulty in that: bishops do take study leave and sabbaticals from time to time.”

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