IT WAS a gamble, certainly. We shall not know whether Dr Williams’s visit to Zimbabwe paid off until evidence emerges that Nolbert Kunonga’s misappropriation of Anglican property has been slowed or, ideally, reversed. Even without this, though, Dr Williams deserves credit for a well-judged visit. With the help of the bishops of the province, and presumably his London advisers, he read the situation well. His robust sermon to the excluded Anglican congregations on Sunday enabled him to meet President Mugabe without the appearance of giving blanket approval to his rule. The presentation of a dossier of the Anglican Church’s ill-use, and its publication immediately afterwards, meant that, however wildly Kunonga fulminated against homosexuality, the illegality of the latter’s actions was laid out before the President and the public.
The ZimEye in Harare reported: “Kunonga was dribbled when his supporters waited to protest Williams at his arrival under the impression he would arrive by air.” Dr Williams went unmolested to the sports stadium, where he spoke to more than 10,000 worshippers. By contrast, Kunonga had to ask photographers to come to the cathedral in Harare, where a few hundred were protesting. The legal/political struggle against what the South African Primate called Kunonga’s “thuggery” is set to go on, but this week, at least, Dr Williams carried off a smart PR coup.
General Practitioners have no difficulties with part of their title: they clearly practise medicine, after all. But, in a field where the specialists tend to attract the greatest attention, prestige, and funding, the “general” element is in doubt. Guiding Patients Through Complexity: Modern medical generalism, a report of an independent commission for the Royal College of General Practitioners and the Health Foundation, attempts to restore confidence. The nature of modern ill-health, particularly the need for a combination of counsel and care for a combination of ailments, requires precisely that breadth of knowledge found in a generalist.
The report suggests that the GP might be “fulfilling the type of role that a local priest would have occupied for them in former years”. We dispute the “former years”, but acknowledge the similarities. A member of the commission, Professor David Haslam, president of the British Medical Association, put it thus: “There’s much more to generalism than knowing a bit about a lot.” A good priest, like a good GP, knows a lot about a good many things, and it is only that depth of knowledge and understanding which enables him or her to respond sympathetically — and correctly — to the range of problems experienced in a parish.