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Archbishop tackles tough questions in Norwich

RowanWilliamsPulpit4WebThe Archbishop of Canterbury answered wide-ranging questions on topics including reaching young people, the credibility of the Bible, other faiths, sexual ethics, the future of the worldwide Anglican communion and the Lambeth Conference and his own inspirations, from a 600-strong audience of clergy and lay people at Norwich Cathedral on Saturday November 10. Keith Morris reports.

On reaching young people…

“With evangelism of young people, you must begin a process that you are willing to carry on with and adapt as people grow. It is not just the church that has an issue with young people... so don’t panic too much. The under-25s are more interested in friendships and don’t really join anything.”

On the credibility of the Bible…

“Don’t lose too much sleep over the Da Vinci Code – life is too short. The Gospels are a damn sight more interesting that it. They are so much more mysterious and exciting.”

On our multi-cultural society…

“When I approach a Muslim, Buddhist or Jew in inter-faith dialogue... I have confidence in that which I have been given... and what I truly believe so that I can enter into dialogue without apology and I have something to give and also receive.

"I hope to better understand who I am and who you are and if God brings about any change through this then thank God for it... I go into dialogue willing to receive and be enlarged and taught.”

On being the Archbishop of Canterbury…

RowanWilliamsPulpit1Web“I enjoy the same as I enjoy being a parish priest.

“I hate that everything you say is under intense scrutiny both by the media and occasionally by fellow Christians.”
“I wish we were not embroiled in such a savage controversy within the Anglican Communion which is doing such damage to people's spiritual lives within the Communion on both sides... It damages people’s souls.”

On the Lambeth Conference…

“We will meet in an awareness of real tension and conflict between some of us... but it is much better to meet than to conduct all of our relationships on the internet or through other people's perceptions or through highly politicised international agendas. I would rather have it out with a fellow Christian even if it is really tough and painful and it ends in deeper separation... because you never know what gift you may receive in that encounter.

“The Conference is the only chance many isolated bishops in poor and developing countries get to be exposed to the experience of churches elsewhere, to allies and resources to perspectives and possibilities they would not otherwise have.”

On sexual ethics…

“God sets before us the central image of a man and a woman faithfully committed to one another in a relationship which images God's faithful committment to the world... I believe quite strongly that sexual expression belongs within this covenanted relationship.
“I believe that we have lost the battle on sexual ethics.

"We need to be clear that any message which dehumanizes, which demonizes or marginalises gay or lesbian people within the church or the human family is deplorable. People in God's eyes are not defined by their sexual orientation.

"We are in the very awkward position that we don't believe we have the authority as a church to bless the physical expression of homosexual love and yet we have to accept that gay and lesbian people are a gift to the church and they deserve respect, dignity, love and attention. Walking that tightrope is something we are not very good at the moment, not good at all. That's the challenge.”

On violence and Just War…

"It is almost impossible in the modern world to justify military intervention, I am glad we have a traditional of Just War that enables us to have an intelligent argument with Government about military action and say, granted that you are going to do this, how do we stop it becoming a bloodbath.
“The biggest challenge to a Just War argument for Iraq and Afghanistan is that I don’t really think we knew what we would do next or what would count as winning.”

On Julian of Norwich…

“She is arguably one of the greatest Christian discoveries of the 20th century.”

On his own inspirations (apart from Jesus)…

“I think that St Augustine of Hippo is the greatest Christian thinker ever.

“My other inspiration is German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer who finally gave his life at the end of the war after years of resistance to Hitler.”

To hear an audio recording of the Archbishop's answers click here.


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