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Williams praises his cathedral

14 December 2012

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken of the strength he has drawn from Canterbury Cathedral after the "painful" vote on women bishops.

Dr Williams described the cathedral as a "great open space" for people to come into and discover "new things" about human life and possibilities. "When the Church itself looks dysfunctional or muddled (yes, I have noticed), there are still things that don't change," he wrote in the Christmas issue of the Radio Times.

"A couple of days after the Church of England's painful vote on women bishops, I was back in Canterbury, looking at the building and thinking: 'Not even these past few days take away the open space, the possibilities.'"

Like the cathedral, "the life of Jesus stands there, an unmistakable physical fact in the world's history, letting us know that God makes room for us to grow and flourish in his company."

He pointed out how English cathedral congregations had grown significantly in recent years, debunking the "cliché" that the Church of England was "fading away".

Dr Williams is to appear in a BBC2 documentary, Goodbye to Canterbury, on New Year's Day, which records his thoughts after a decade as the Archbishop of Canterbury. He tells how the cathedral has been a "spiritual touchstone" throughout his ministry.

He also talked this week about his efforts to maintain contact with younger people. In an interview for the diocese of Canterbury's magazine Outlook, he said: "I enjoy working with children. I like the sheer fact you can never predict what questions they will ask, whether it's a six- or 16-year-old. They ask all kinds of embarrassing questions."

He also enjoyed visiting schools in deprived areas. "When you see the amazing difference that a good school can make, you get a sense of excitement and of discovery and imagination. I've been able to witness so many of these cases, and it's wonderful."

Dr Williams leaves Canterbury at the end of this month to become Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge. Next May, he will also become chairman of the board of trustees of Christian Aid.

Announcing his appointment this week, the director of Christian Aid, Loretta Minghella, said: "Archbishop Rowan brings a passionate interest in tackling the symptoms and causes of poverty, a profound theological understanding, and deep experience of addressing issues of environmental, economic, and social justice with church and political leaders across the world."

Dr Williams said: "I had hoped very much to be able to continue some regular involvement in support and advocacy in the area of international justice and development, and this will allow such an involvement to flourish."



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