Tribute to Prime Minister Tony Blair
Thursday 10th May 2007Responding to the Prime Minister's announcement that he will stand down on 27 June, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, made the following statement from Sri Lanka.
"Tony Blair has understood as well as any Prime Minister in recent times why religion matters, how faith communities contribute to the common good and why religious extremism should have no place in a progressive society.
As a man of genuine personal faith, he has not shied away from the risk associated with confronting extremism, while respecting difference.
The Church of England, in common with all people of faith, is grateful that over the past ten years the Prime Minister has refused the demands of some to close down the space in our society within which both vigorous debate and the full diversity of religious conviction can find voice and be expressed.
There have naturally been differences of vision and judgement between the Prime Minister and the Church of England, not least over the Iraq war, but he has been consistently willing to allow these disagreements to be voiced and discussed openly.
The current development in Northern Ireland bears witness to one of his most enduring achievements and the high profile given to development issues, especially in Africa, and to the environmental crisis reflects the passion and intelligence he has brought to his work as Prime Minister.
I wish the Prime Minister well in the future, whatever that holds for him, and I hope and pray that his recognition of the contribution of faith and faith communities to the common good of our society will prove to be one of his most enduring legacies; one that will be built on by his successors."