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04 December 2015

Geoff Crawford/Stefano Cagni

Last time: William Fittall (centre), the outgoing Secretary General, acknowledging the Synod’s applause

Last time: William Fittall (centre), the outgoing Secretary General, acknowledging the Synod’s applause

THE Archbishop of Canterbury bade farewell on behalf of the Synod to its retiring Secretary General, William Fittall.

The Archbishop said that “to Fittallise something” had come to mean “to sort something out and render it exquisitely clear”. Mr Fittall had “brought the very best of Whitehall to the Church of England”.

Mr Fittall’s ability to adapt and work fast and accurately was “legendary”. He looked out for colleagues, and was “frequently kind and thoughtful”. He was also “extraordinarily good company”, with “something of the thespian hidden beneath the surface”, as evidenced in Church House pantomimes. Underpinning all had been his Christian faith. He described Mr Fittall as “dancing rings” around government officials, “leaving them baffled, confused, and still quite content”.

Mr Fittall replied that serving as Secretary General had been a “unique and undeserved privilege”. These had been “13 very special years, for which I give profound thanks to Almighty God”. He would look back on them with thankfulness, having been “blessed with superb colleagues”, and with satisfaction.

He was pleased to see more women and minority-ethnic colleagues in senior positions than when he arrived, “though there is still much progress to be made”. His “stubborn regret” was “that we and other Christian traditions in this land are yet to recapture the imagination of those who, in a society awash with more information than ever, remain desperately hungry for meaning.”

He ended with a quotation from Reinhold Niebuhr: “Nothing worth doing can be completed in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope.”


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