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