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This is an archived website containing material relating to Dr Rowan Williams’ time as Archbishop of Canterbury, which ended on 31st December 2012

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Archbishop: "My successor needs a newspaper in one hand and a Bible in the other"

Wednesday 7th November 2012

The next Archbishop of Canterbury will need to preach “with a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other”, Dr Rowan Williams said today.

In his final press conference as President of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), Dr Williams said the incoming Archbishop will have to map the Biblical vision of humanity and community onto the worst situations in society today.

Archbishop Williams said the issues discussed at the 15th ACC in Auckland – including climate change and ending domestic violence – were "actually questions about what kind of humanity we're seeking to promote and serve, which is a deeply Christian question."

He said that when people were probing the church on certain issues, they were actually asking how the church could help them “be really human”.

“We believe as a church we have unparalleled resources for enriching humanity that way.”

When asked which qualities the next Archbishop of Canterbury needs to have, he quoted Karl Barth – who he described as "the greatest theologian of the 20th century" – who said, 'you have to preach with a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other.’

The Archbishop added: "You have to be cross-referencing all the time and saying, 'How does the vision of humanity and community in the Bible map onto these issues of poverty, privation, violence and conflict?' And you have to use what you read in the newspaper to prompt and direct the questions that you put to the Bible: 'Where is this going to help me?'

“So I think somebody who likes reading the Bible and likes reading newspapers would be a good start!" he said.

The Archbishop told reporters that ACC members had had "a remarkably constructive couple of weeks together” at Auckland’s Holy Trinity Cathedral.

Responding to questions about the ACC’s progress, Archbishop Williams highlighted the resolution regarding the protocols for Christian witness in a plural world. The resolution was endorsed this morning.

"We don't manipulate, we don't bully, we don't undermine. We try to engage in dialogue, and it would have been good to have bit more time to anchor that in specific situations. But everybody knows the difficulties in certain situations –  in Nigeria, inSri Lanka– where the church is up against very violent opposition sometimes. But even so we wanted affirm those principles."

He said the ACC meeting had focussed on drawing up a "policy picture for the Communion as well as some quite intensive work on where it's going to be practical in regions and nations.”

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