The Archbishop of Canterbury’s case for gradualism in Africa

Earlier, Williams had told me, “We—Anglicans generally—didn’t spot soon enough the degree to which the different parts of the community were drifting apart . . . and the degree to which we’d become too used to talking to ourselves and to the liberal Western world, and left other bits of the world talking to themselves. And somehow we didn’t quite get hold of that.”

He kept returning to the subject of Africa. He said that colonialism had left “a deficit of trust” and that “a bitterness and anger arises these days from the sense that someone else is taking up the decisions, just as they always did… that someone makes a decision about gay bishops in the United States and we’re the ones who have to have our churches burned by local fanatics. …These are very religious societies, and Anglicans can easily feel that they are being left exposed, left looking weak, unconvincing, compared with strong answers coming from elsewhere. …Occasionally, I’ve said to people, ‘You think of Peter or Henry”—Peter Akinola, in Nigeria, and Henry Luke Orombi, the Archbishop of Uganda—“as ultra-conservative. Let me introduce you to a few of the people to their right so you can see that they are liberals in their own context.’ They are trying to maintain some elements of traditional Anglican discipline and spirituality, to present Anglicanism as a credible faith in their society, and it’s not easy and they feel that we are making it harder.”

He said that, under the circumstances, some “mutual self-restraint” among Western Anglicans could be considered a “gift” to the whole Church.

That is Rowan Williams, interviewed by the New Yorker on the subject of female and gay bishops.