LONDON – Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has announced he will stand down at the end of 2012 to take up a post at Cambridge University.
He was appointed the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury in 2002, and has since headed up a 77-million strong Anglican Communion, a role he described as “an immense privilege,” according to the BBC.
Williams said resigning had not been an easy decision, and added that there was “much to do” before he stepped down. He thanked those in the Church of England and the broader Anglican Communion who had “brought vision, hope and excitement” to his ministry.
Williams has spend much of his time in office trying to halt a growing schism in the Anglican church over women and gay bishops, as well as same-sex unions. Conservatives have attacked him for his liberal views on homosexuality, while liberals have assailed him for failing to live up to those principles, The Guardian reports.
Williams has said his successor would need the “constitution of an ox and the skin of a rhinoceros.” The favorite to succeed him is Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, who if selected by the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) would become the first black Archbishop of Canterbury, according to The Daily Telegraph.
In a statement, Sentamu said he had received the news of Williams’ departure “with great sadness,” Sky News reports.
“Despite his courageous, tireless and holy endeavour, he has been much maligned by people who should have known better. For my part, he has been God’s apostle for our time,” he said.