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May 17th, 2010
04:48 PM ET

Portrait of the schism tamer

Archbishop Rowan Williams, head of the world Anglican Communion, is trying to prevent schisms in the communion after clashes over homosexuality and women bishops.

“There’s no beast more ferocious than two Christians who disagree.”

It's a quote I stumbled on while reading about religious conflict. I understood it better after covering the Episcopal Church’s decision to confirm the ordination of an openly gay bishop, Eugene Robinson, in 2003.

Church fights can turn vicious. This one was no exception. I saw church leaders plant false rumors about opponents; priests barge into other colleagues churches to insult them; and parishioners shout at each other like kids throwing tantrums.

The Episcopal Church is still grappling with the aftershocks of their decision to accept an openly gay bishop.

I came across a New Yorker article that gives a deft portrait of the man who was forced to referee that church conflict: Rowan Williams, the head of the Anglican Communion.

Williams has been fighting to prevent a schism in the Anglican Communion over the Episcopal Church's decision.The Episcopal Church is the American branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion, an 80-million member association of churches spanning the globe.

But the New Yorker article says he’s also been fighting to prevent a schism within the Church of England - the communion's mother church - over the question of whether women can serve as bishops.

The article offers some of the most revealing comments about Williams I’ve ever read.

“Rowan has enormous grace, he gives his opponents space, but he has a lack of killer instinct, which I’m afraid is a necessary quality for leadership,” says one ally of Williams.

It’s a fascinating portrait of what happens when a religious leader’s tries to reconcile the demands of faith with the messy world of church politics.

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Anglican • Culture wars • Episcopal • Leaders • Politics

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soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. V. Sheldon

    ++Rowan Cantus needs to see to his own flock in England. With membership dwindling into dust and the Romans poaching it's Priests, i think he should find trouble enough to last in the Cof E, and leave those of us in TEC to our own best light.
    BTW. He is treating this loose confederation of national Church bodies less like what it is, and more like a snotty country club.

    June 2, 2010 at 9:05 am |
  2. Scott

    This whole Belief Blog is just fodder for arguement. What the hell is CNN thinking? Is this some sort of social experiement?

    May 24, 2010 at 10:58 am |
  3. Ken Kalis

    [15] Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.
    [16] Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. Jeremiah 6

    May 21, 2010 at 4:35 pm |
    • Trash

      Way to think for yourself there buddy.

      May 21, 2010 at 11:30 pm |
  4. Obama = Bush = Rubbish

    ..
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    May 21, 2010 at 9:27 am |
  5. Mohammad Cartoon

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    May 20, 2010 at 10:35 pm |
    • Dirka Dirka

      I am offended and feel a strange urge to blow something up.

      May 21, 2010 at 1:52 pm |
  6. Jeb buch

    Religion is just smoke and mirros. nothing complicated. it is a simple fact that simple minded men control religion and therefore will use every childish action or tool to keep this control

    May 20, 2010 at 9:14 am |
    • Greg Daulton

      The inevitable conclusion of any honest intellect is faith in Christ. 🙂

      May 20, 2010 at 7:13 pm |
    • Trash

      What a load of intellectual crap there Greggy my boy.

      May 21, 2010 at 11:30 pm |
  7. George Smith

    Definition of relativism: where everyone's opinion is right even though they're contradictory. Sounds like the Episcopal Church in all its glory! Now where do you think secularism got its backbone from?

    May 20, 2010 at 8:35 am |
    • Truth Seeker

      I agree. Also, our 2 biggest faith challenges (secularism & relativism) is also a product of Christianity's belief/political correctness, pioneered by the Quakers.

      May 20, 2010 at 8:47 am |
  8. Matthew

    Religion is simply about control of people. Not different from gangs or governments. They first try to convince you to do something their way, than tell you, then try to force you. Religion condons violence when it helps, and tries to maintain a morale high ground when it cant help. It is full of hypocrisy and stupidity and easily influenceable when individuals can hide under a leader and resort to controlled mob rule. There is a God, and if it is capable of understanding its creations in the way the we understand ourselves (though i doubt it, b/c i imagine that God thinks of us the same way we think of parts in a machine, or items in a ingredients list, that is to say inconsequential and unintelligent) that it would be ashamed of human behaviour of groups and organizations that use belief and religion to justify actions against their fellow man

    May 19, 2010 at 11:52 pm |
    • Trash

      All about, money, power and CONTROL. Slowly it is slipping, once it does, good riddance.

      May 21, 2010 at 11:31 pm |
    • Calvin

      you have noi dea what it is about. It's not a religion, but a simple faith....

      May 22, 2010 at 5:39 pm |
    • Yeahimright

      WTG!!! Indeed. God isn't interested in your religions, Never was, Never will be, He is only interested in our ability to apply our free will properly. By reasoning and being logically analytical about the philosophical question of good and evil, and applying it correctly. The same ability will also show why that would be his interest. After all it really is about the image after all.

      May 24, 2010 at 4:25 pm |
  9. Ken Kalis

    Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. - Jesus Christ, Mark 8:38

    May 18, 2010 at 12:16 pm |
    • amused

      seriously can you guys follow this??? its not even proper english!!

      May 20, 2010 at 10:28 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.