The 104th Archbishop of Canterbury 2002-
Born 14 June 1950
Rowan Williams was born in Swansea, Wales into a Welsh speaking family. From school he went on to read Theology at Cambridge and then obtained a doctorate at Oxford researching Christianity in Russia. He became a deacon in 1977 and was ordained a priest 1978, bur pursued an essentially academic career up to the year 1992 rising to the heights of a Professor of Theology at Oxford University.
He was appointed as Bishop of Monmouth in 1992 and Archbishop of Wales (and therefore head of the disestablished Anglican Church in Wales) in 2000, and in 2002 emerged as the front runner to replace George Carey as Archbishop of Canterbury. The former archbishop of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu was quoted as saying that he "towered head and shoulders" above all the other candidates.
This information was leaked to the Times newspaper, presumably to ensure that the British Prime Minister Tony Blair didn't dare reject him and pick the back up candidate, Michael Nazir-Ali the Bishop of Rochester.
On the 23rd July 2002 Rowan Williams was formally nominated as Archbishop of Canterbury, elected by the College of Canons of Canterbury on the 8th November 2002, and the election confirmed at a legal ceremony in St Paul's Cathedral on the 2nd December 2002. He was formally enthroned as the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury in Canterbury Cathedral on the 27th February 2003.
Rowan reacted to the confirmation of his appointment with the words;
An enormous trust has been placed in my hands, and I can only approach it with a degree of awe as well as gratitude that I have been thought worthy of it
He is the first Archbishop of Canterbury to be chosen from outside the Church of England in modern times (that is since the Normans) and the first Welshman to be selected for the post for at least a 1,000 years.
He is the author of a number of books on such subjects as the history of theology and spirituality as well as collections of his own articles and sermons and books of poetry. One of his most recent publications is Writing in the Dust:Reflections on 11th September and its aftermath; he was by chance in New York on the day the World Trade Centre was struck.
Rowan Williams is a member of the Christian Socialist Movement (which is bound to bring him into conflict with the current government), has been critical of the allied bombing campaign in Afghanistan and is reportedly a fan of both The Simpsons and Father Ted. According to the Guardian newspaper he is "theologically orthodox though supportive of women priests and sympathetic to homosexuals".
No sooner had he been confirmed then Rowan published his latest book entitled Lost Icons in which he;
- laid into the Disney Corporation for robbing children of their childhood through its relentless marketing of products tied-in to its various films and accused it of creating characters that were 'inappropriately sexual'
- as well as the British government for its obsession with measuring pupils' academic performance whilst ignoring their social and emotional needs and complained that "The focus of education should be on the needs of the child, but now it's on the needs of big business and the competitive world"
Most recently he expressed the opinion that it wasn't unreasonable for the government to detain asylum seekers in secure accommodation whilst it processed their applications. An opinion that delighted the Conservative Party but dismayed the British Radical Left who thought he was one of them. (Fairly typically the Revolutionary Communist Party branded him 'a racist thug'.)
Married Jane Paul in 1981 and has two children, Rhiannon (born 1988) and Pip (born 1996). (The latter choice may indicate of fondness for Charles Dickens.)
Some biographical details
Academic and Ecclesiastical Career
- Lecturer, Mirfield Theological College in Leeds
- Tutor, Westcott House, Cambridge University (1977-1980)
- Honorary curate, Chesterton St George Ely (1980-1983)
- Lecturer in divinity, Cambridge University ( 1980-1986)
- Dean and chaplain, Clare College, Cambridge University (1984-1986)
- Canon residentiary, Christ Church, Oxford (1986-1992)
- Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity, Oxford University (1986-92)
- Bishop of Monmouth (1992-2000)
- Archbishop of Wales (2000-2002)
- Archbishop of Canterbury (2002-)