Advanced search Click here for the website of the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby

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

Skip Content

Brief Press Encounter at Singapore University

Tuesday 4th December 2007

The Archbishop responds to press questions about the content of the Building Bridges seminar, the environment and the jailing of a teacher in Sudan.

What are the main challenges here?

The main challenge is taking each other seriously, not being bound by stereotypes, understanding that there are various areas of understanding about what human beings are which allow us to think together and act together.

What do you think about the idea of having more study of Christianity in Islamic countries?

I think it's a very interesting idea; I think it's necessary for the dialogue to go forward. I remember having some very interesting discussions in the UK with some Muslim scholars about how might we take this forward, so I know that there is considerable enthusiasm for this.

How different is the debate from previous seminars?

This is just the first session so I think it's hard to say so far, but I think the speakers will be exactly as before.

Are the issues similar?

We've moved on, and I think having begun by looking at more narrowly theological questions we're looking over recent years at practical outworking to issues about the law, issues about rights, issues about human nature.

Is the environment new?

It is relatively new, and it's something I have encouraged very much; I think the issue about the environmental crisis is one that no one religious tradition can cope with in isolation, just as no one nation can cope with it in isolation. I think we need a common voice from religious leaders and religious teachers on this subject.

I personally don't see the link; how does religion come in with the environment? What are you expecting to hear?

Oh, very much so; religious people believe that our physical environment is created by God and therefore deserves respect. The question is 'how do we relate to our material environment in such a way that we display justice and reverence towards it?' That's a profoundly religious issue and without that dimension then our dealing with the ecological crisis will be thinner and much less adequate.

Do you see practical solutions coming out on the environment?

I think that it's more that if religious leaders can speak out together on this subject, it's a major moral incentive on world leaders to act. I think what's going on in Bali at the moment is certainly a conference which has acknowledged the importance of religious leadership and religious perspectives.

What might the topics of future conferences be?

That's something we'll talk about and decide this week.

Recent incident of Briton Gillian Gibbons in Sudan.... Why do think this happened?

That's a very good question; you'd better ask the Sudanese government. I think it was an embarrassing issue all round. I was very grateful that Muslim and Christian leaders in Britain united to say that this was a totally disproportionate reaction.

What do you think of Annapolis?

Well, it's better than nothing and I think that I will pray very hard that the suggestions that are on the table there are followed up.

Are you positive that they will create two state ... ?

I can't say but without that we will have even less to hope for. I think we must work with what's there.

Back · Back to top