16/03/2012 Newsnight


In-depth news investigation and analysis with Stephanie Flanders. Good shepherd or turbulent priest? Rowan Williams's tenure as Archbishop of Canterbury.

Similar Content

Browse content similar to 16/03/2012. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!



He was the Archbishop who tried to be the uniter, should Rowan


Williams have tried to be someone else. May the peace of God be on


this house and upon this company. For nearly a decade the Archbishop


of Canterbury struggled to pull the Anglican Church together. But


disagreements over women bishops and gay marriage are fundamental


and not going away. We debate on whether the church would be better


spliting apart. Amid rising tensions in Afghanistan,


we return to Kabul to assess the mood and speak to the President.


Your relationship with the United States, is it at the end of the


road? This form of activity, this behaviour, cannot be tolerated.


And is the Chancellor, who says we're all in this together, really


about to cut taxes for the richist in society, or will he stand up --


richest on society, or will he stand up on Budget Day and announce


nothing of the kind. We will look at the odds on George Osborne


ditching the 50p rate of tax, and the political implications. Good


evening. Politicians and religious leaders paid tribute to Rowan


Williams today, after he announced his tenth year as rarpblg Bishop of


Canterbury would be his last. There is no getting round it, the job as


head of the Anglican Church has gotten steadily harder. He may have


challenged the imagination of the country, as the Labour leader, Ed


Milliband, suggested. But when it came to the church itself, his time


in office was spent papering over the cracks, containing but never


healing over a schism. In a moment we will look and see if the effort


was worth it. In the Buckinghamshire parish


church of St Margaret, Virgin and Martyr, they were meeting today to


appoint a new rebgtor. Rector. A choice on a local level,


as hard as the one facing the whole church, obliged to find a successor


to Rowan Williams. Here in the village of Iver Heath, there is


only one question, it will be a man, this church doesn't accept women


priests. St Margaret's, in other words, is a symbol of the kind of


church that Dr Williams, who announced his forth coming


resignation today, has led for nearly ten years. Through the rows


over ordination of women and gay people, he has fought to keep it


intact. He admits that has taken a toll on him. Dr Williams has said


his successor will need the constitution of an ox and the hide


of a wry non-rus. Testament of how hard it is to -- Rhine no sirous,


testament of how hard it is to hold this church together.


Now Rowan Williams is going, some will ask whether it is worth


continuing what may be a hopeless struing.


A struggle overish -- struggle. A struggle over issues that seem to


obsess the church but matter little to people outside. Most people find


it incredible that anyone, let alone those with pretensions to


moral authority would be scrapping over the place of women in society.


It seems extraordinary any serious body will be fighting over. That


someone said they thought we had sorted that 20 or 30 years ago, why


is it the big issue now. When it comes down to gay people, the idea


that gay people are some how children of a lesser God, that some


how they can't have loving, permanent, stable relationships,


strikes many people as, to use a rather awful word, grotesque.


national church, created as part of an arrangement, to allow the


remarriage of Henry VIII, still has arrangements in its blood. That is


why there is a second bishop here today to help choose the new rector,


a flying bishop, appointed separately to support par aishs


that op -- parishs that oppose the ordination of Britain.


Shnt too much time spent on those church that is think things are


important theological and within the church, but not really of


interest to the wider community? think the opposite risk is that the


church ploughs very determinately a particular furrow on one or other


issue and people fall away. You actually lead to a splintering and


weakening of the whole, where as, what we have, potentially, is a way


of having that common commitment to presenting the Christian faith in a


way that is really engaging and lively, and converting, which is


what the country needs. To say, yes we can do this, and within certain


limits we can accommodate difference.


But has the effort to acomdied that internal difference sometimes


distracted the church from engaging clearly in big national debates.


Like many politician, Lord Falconer hugely admired Dr Williams, but


feels he hasn't been able to use his gifts to the full. Imagine an


organisation that could say we strongly disapprove of this or that


aspect of a particular change, for example like a cap on welfare


benefits, and people listening to that, rather than simply treating


it as one voice among many voices, in relation to the issue. It is not


the position now, will it happen in the future? Well, if Rowan Williams,


a man of huge integrity, couldn't provide the cohesion that was


needed in relation to t it is very difficult to imagine anybody else


that could. To avoid schism, Dr Williams has tried to get all the


institute churches of the wider Anglican union, to agree to a


covenant that would stop them ordaining openly gay Clergy without


central consent. But more and more dies sis of England are rejecting


it. That document of Rowan Williams, that was to be his legacy, a new


shape for the Anglican community, is now dead in the water. That


makes it very difficult for Dr Williams to continue as Archbishop


of Canterbury, which many people regard as something of a tragedy.


Here is who the bookies say is favourite to be the next head of


the church, the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu. REPORTER: Do you


fancy the job? You can't be serious. Whatever his chances, some already


feel he represents a centralising tendency that may be counter-


productive. A wise new Archbishop will be genuinely collaborative and


work from the bottom up, rather than trying to drive things from


the centre. I don't think Rowan Williams has intended to do that, I


it is more the Archbishop of York associated with that than the


Archbishop of Canterbury, it is a phenomenon that has grown in the


last few years. An inspiring, thoughtful man, in an impossible


job, Rowan Williams will be missed by many, but he has found no


solutions to problems in the church that may be too broad for its own


good. With me are the Right Reverend Stephen Cottrell, the


Bishop of Chelmsford, theeloj can, Dr Robert Beckford, and Canon


Doctor Chris Sugden, from the Campaign Group, Anglican Mainstream.


We have said that Rowan Williams was all about uniting a church,


that was all he was about for the last ten years, did he actually


succeed, has he held the church together? I think he has been an


outstanding Archbishop in many ways, the analysis on which the


conversation is premised is a false one. I don't think he was at all


interested in papering over cracks, what he was interested in doing was


helping us look at our foundations. One of those foundations is, of


course, not the Archbishop of Canterbury, not the Church of


England, but Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ tells you that I can't be a


Christian on my own, my Christian faith brings me into relationships


with others, and often, with people with whom I disagree. And so how we


handle those disagreements, and how we hold together, truth and unity,


are two very important things. Now, the disagreements that we have at


the moment are just the latest disagreements that have littered


church history from the beginning. These are deep disagreements, as I


said, they are not going anywhere, people feel very deeply about them?


That may be how you see it, it is not how many of us see it in the


church. We are very committed to holding ourselves together as one


church, and building those bonds of affection with one another, around


the truths that we have received. And I believe, what Rowan Williams


has offered us, is a way of engaging with each other,


continuing conversation, which has never been easy, but that


conversation continues. Do you agree with this, you have said you


think people who agree with gay priests should leave the church?


I'm not certain when I have said that. There are many priests who


are gay, the issue is behaviour, not orientation.


But the issue is really. Do you think it will be as easy,


regardless of the ins and outs, do you think it will be as easy as the


bishop seems to be suggesting? not suinging it is easy, but I will


let -- suggesting it will be easy. What I have said is I think he has


enabled a conversation to happen and that is continuing. It is a


hard conversation, because loving your neighbour, especially the one


you disagree with, is never easy. Where does the conversation end?


think we have to understand what the Church of England, and the


wider Anglican Communion, we are talking not just about the Church


of England, we are talking about the worldwide communion, of 55


million Anglicans, the issue is not the leader, it is the nature of


leadership, in what is basically a family. A family that has a shared


history, many shared relationships, as a shared faith, as the bishop


has said, in Jesus Christ and his word in the scriptures. What has


changed over Archbishop Williams's ten years has been the nature of


the leadership in the communion, it is a multipolar community, many


different networks and organisations globally. Do you


think that works and is sustain snbl I think it is sustainable and


needs Sustainable? I think it is sustainable, and I would like to


see his successor take seriously the leadership of the churches and


the Primates in Africa and the global south. That is one area that


needs to be improved on. A second area that needs to be improved is


the role and position of the Conservatives in the church should


be taken much more seriously. For example, there is one dies sis, the


Diocese of -- diocese, the Diocese of Southwark, where in the last six


appointments have been from the same revisionist stripe, even


though all the churches in the diocese have been evangelical,


there has been no appointments from such a section. There must be


collaboration with the leadership and taking seriously the global


south, and seriously the control of conservative evangelicals and


anglo-Catholics, who it is said make up 40% of the church right now.


What is your take, that somebody can do this job, the successor to


the Archbishop of Canterbury will be able to hold it together?


don't think so, this is a family at war, maybe it is time for the


church to bite the bullet and look at ways to separate and I April


cablely. Separation or -- amble, separation. It may lead to


evangelism and prophetic ministry, churches that engage in the real


issues ordinary people are concerned W I think the discussion


is incredibly myopic, I don't think the average Anglican, who is a


black woman in the global south, who is not concerned about the next


leader, but concerned about what the next leader will deliver.


couldn't be more wrong. The Christian faith requires us to love


our neighbour and be in community with each other. There is no other


choice that we seek unity in Christ and with each other, that is non-


negotiable. In my experience, which I agree is not a huge wurpbgs but


in my experience of travel -- one, but my experience of travelling


overseas, particularly in Kenya, they care very much about the unity


they have with Christians in this country. And we are a global faith,


or we are nothing. It is about faith, it is about


belief. If you were a political party, you could understand why you


might need to do wheeling and dealing, and coming to some kind of


lowest common denominator, that is not what religion is supposed to be.


How can it survive if people inside are fundamentally uncomfortable?


don't see politics or wheeling and dealing, what I do see is


Christians want to go discover. Having fundamental disagreements?


And learning how to live with them rather than split because of them.


And working out what are the legitimate boundaries within which


Christian faith can grow and flourish. We have a concrete


example of it, we had the covenant, that was supposed to be a unifying


document, and yet not even, a large number of diocese in England have


been unable to support it. If not that, what is going to do it?


problem is, that we have got a different style of the three


groupings that make up the Church of England at the moment. You have


the anglo-Catholics, the liberals and the evangelicals, the Church of


England has historically embraced all three within certain boundaries,


what we have had in the last ten years is a much more centralist


approach by some of those groupings. For example, in the United States


you have had people taking out law cases against Clergy, parishs and


congregation, depriving them of their living, pensions and churches,


because they happen to disagree with the ordination of someone in a


same sexual relationship. That is what I call essentialism, they are


pushing people out by their essentialism. They are not willing


to accept that there is a legitimate disagreement and people


can belong. I think again it is a complex issue,


and very painful for Anglicans to have to consider their church being


fractured by this. Do you think it is sapping energy? I think it is


sapping energy. I think it is actually misguided. The real issue


is how can the next Archbishop develop a prophetic ministry, a


ministry that will speak truth to power, that will engage with every


day ordinary people within the country, and actually, more than


anything else, deal with the fact that most people are not interested


in religion in this country. That is the fundamental issue. This is


meant to be a church of the nation. Most people have turned their backs


on the church. The critical issue is how can they renew the church in


such a way that it engages with people. Shows people that faith


matters. We have to wind up in a minute. You have to ask you, you


have to know you are appearing on some of the lists today, do you


have the constitution of an ox and the hide of a Rhino? I take a lead


from Rowan Williams on many things but not on that, I look forward


with joyfulness and gentleness. were 15-1 before this discussion,


who knows afterwards. The relationship between America


and Afghanistan is looking increasingly fractured this week,


as Afghan officials try to get to the bottom of the deadly rampage by


a US officer, which killed 16 civilians. President Hamid Karzai


today lashed out at the US, for failing to co-operate with his


investigation. He's also unhappy that the soldier


responsible, who has just been named as Staff Sergeant Robert


Bales, has been taken to the US for trial.


We have been gauging the mood among Afghans in the capital.


It is graduation day for newly- trained Afghan soldiers. Elated


that good friends go with them, as they head out to their first fight.


They will be fighting alongside US and other NATO forces. But how hard


is that now? What do you think about what


happened in Kandahar, when one American soldier went and killed


some Afghan civilians, do you trust the Americans? No, you don't? Why


don't you? TRANSLATION: No, why did they kill


these innocent Muslims. What did they do wrong? If they work


properly we are ready to work with them. If they don't, we are not.


Off camera, some soldiers were more blunt. Kafirs, infidels, declared


one young guard when I asked him about the Americans, who pick up


most of the tab for his fledgling army.


That anger goes right up to the palace. Today President Karzai


asked tribunal elders from Kandahar to -- tribal elders to tell him


what happened when 16 people were killed. They spoke with anger and


sadness. This man described how 11 people


died in one house alone. The man who survived that said his


relatives were mutilated, the women were killed. How could this be the


work of one man. The President was clearly moved and


angered by what he heard. When he rose to leave, I called out to him.


REPORTER: Do you accept the official American account that only


one American soldier was involved in these killings? The story of the


village elders in there said is different, he said it is not


possible that one person could do that. In his house four rooms,


women and children were killed, they were all put in one room and


put on fire. That one man cannot do. What do you do next, Sir? It is by


all means the end of the road here. Nobody can afford such luxuries,


any more, if you can call it a luxury. This form of activity, this


behaviour, cannot be tolerated. This week the Afghan parliament,


also declared its patience was running out. But it is one thing to


say it, another to do it. They still need their foreign partners.


Afghanistan cannot survive without the support of international


commune ity. You are in surviving by money given by British and


American tax-payers. If you refuse to finance the Afghan budget, I


would say Mr Karzai, President of Afghanistan, he has not the money


to buy the tea for his office. Despite this dependency, there is a


growing distance. Every time I visit there are new security


barriers. You hardly see any foreigners on the streets now. They


used to buy souvenirs here, today I'm the only one.


I often drop by this cafe to meet young Afghan friends. It is filled


with well dressed, well educated Afghans, who have done well on


salaries paid by the west. Even they find it hard to understand why


it is so difficult to get this relationship right.


My understanding is, the people who are making decisions do not have


this leverage. They are sitting behind closed doors, getting


information from people I have difficulty understanding, of how


they can relay this sort of information to them. That then goes


up and then decisions are based on that. They don't even get to come


out to see the real Kabul, forget the provinces and the villages, how


can you build trust when they can't even come out and we can't go in.


If you go in, you feel you are in a different, I'm sorry, it is my


country, it is a different place. I'm searched to the extent that I


don't want to deal with it. The issue is here, if you want to build


trust, they need to come out and speak to the normal population.


There seems to be battles everywhere. And sometimes it seems


they are not fighting with, but against each other.


And that's dangerous, when it comes to a real battlefield.


This isn't one. These soldiers are being trained to throw grenades.


All the weapons are pretend. This man's gun is a drain pipe, but they


are not faking their desire to fight, and to fight their own way.


They are getting the training of every NATO soldier, the best


training that can be offered here, which you are constantly reminded,


this is an Afghan Muslim army. What do they shout when they hurl those


grenades, Allah hu Akbar, "God it great".


Armies often say they throw away their plans once they meet the


reality of war. The problem here is there is no other plan.


Right now, no-one is clear what to Allah hu Akbar.


50p, or not 50p, it is a question we have spent a surprisingly large


amount of time discussing in the lead up to the budget. You might


think not so surprising, after all, we know the Chancellor thinks high


taxes for wealth creators are bad for business and he would like to


ditch that one. Now there are cuts as far as the eyes can see, real


incomes for most households are falling, and politically the wealth


creators have turned into "fat cats", not a great time to cut them


a break. Before we discuss it, a few facts.


The Treasury estimate there are tax-payers that fall into the 50p


band. Labour says it will raise �2.6 billion in the first year.


Some say it won't raise anything at all, one thing high earners know is


how to avoid tax. Who could tax the rich, there is the Lib Dem idea of


a mansion tax on properties over �2 million, or Warren Buffett's tycoon


tax, forcing the rich to pay a certain share of their income in


tax. Or Mr Osborne could reduce the tax relief on high earners' pension


contributions. I'm joined now by Daniel


Finkelstein from the Times, and Steve Richards from the Independent.


What's going on, how do you read all of the last few weeks


machinations about the 50p? All the debate has taken place in public


because of the budget. Can you read that in it? I can't raet it any


other way, the discussions that take place normally take place in


cabinet. Now he has to discuss it with the Liberal Democrats, that


probably goes a little wider, Nick Clegg has to bring his


parliamentary team in, when you go beyond three or four people you get


leaks. I take very seriously what I read in the paper. I think what we


are seeing now is the game big played as to how this will be


perceived afterwards. So I think, I'm guessing that the Lib Dems were


the source of this story, because they want to make quite clear they


have got what they wanted, which was fair in their view, progressive


tax breaks in terms of raising the threshold for low income earners,


and not paying income tax. But therefore they have conceded ground,


as they would put it, and want to create a distance with the


Conservatives' desire for the top rate of tax to be cut. So I think


the stories are accurate, and they reflect what is going on in


preparation for next Wednesday. Whatever is going to happen, it has


been decided, we have been told it has gone to the office of budget


for responsibility d to the Office of Budget Responsibility, what is


your instinct -- to the Office of Budget Responsibility, what is your


instinct? I would be surprised if that is wrong, there has been


negotiation. There has been a long standing desire from the


Conservatives to reduce marginal rates of tax. At the beginning of


the programme you said will there be cuts for taxes on well off


people? Almost certainly not. We haven't heard any of the other


things in the budget, it would be amazing to me if there weren't


rises for people at the top. could be politically toxic, what


are the risks for George Osborne in this, or does he think there are no


risks because the opposition is nowhere to be seen? No, there are


risks. The phrase that he is most associated with, as far as any


politician is associated with any phrase, is we are all in this


together. So when he, assuming he does this, announces a tax cut for


the most well off, it will take one heck of a lot of explanation. Danny


and others will say there is a valid explanation, but the


political risk is very high, to the extent that I know, people like Ed


Balls, who is an astute, whatever you think of his views, an astute


follower of the politics of tax, because he has been doing it since


1992, didn't think George Osborne would do this for his own political


sake. It looks as if they are going to do it. I think the immediate


political risks are very large, the only way you could do it


politically is if it actual lie works. If you believe -- actually


works. If you believe that cutting the rates work, and it produces


greater growth, then it will be political credit, but in the end


that is how people will make the judgments. Immediately it is hard


to argue with that judgment, that it will be politically very


difficult. How important is it that it hasn'ted very much money? That


will be -- hasn't raised very much money? That will be difficult, to


make the argument that it was right and it raises nothing. If you can


go with that argument. It is premature, George Osborne announced


the review as to whether it raised money, after the first year,


apparently, it will form a policy decision on that basis. That is


pretty difficult. The OBR and other organisation also try to model it,


it will be a very important part of the argument, whether it raises


money. And also the other parts of the argument, which is who else's


tax will be cut, and what other taxes are going to be raised on


well-off people. You have said it won't be a net tax cut for the


wealthy, do you think it has to go with a tax cut for lower income


households? We do definitely know something will happen on this, Nick


Clegg has said so clearly that he wants that cut, in fact, the


Chancellor has committed himself in the first budget to do that each


year that is part of the coalition agreement. We will definitely see


that, it is guess work, you have to think it is unlikely to see


reductions in tax for top rates. It will be about tax rates. You talk


about the political risk of this, if you were George Osborne you


could look at the last week, Labour's big week on the economy


and think it hasn't gone anywhere? I didn't even know it was a big


week, in advance it was meant to be a big week. I think there are


political risks. What is really interesting now about budgets in


general, but this one specifically, it is nearly all about the politics.


As you know better than anyone in the studio, policy announcements on


the economy are made all the time, quanative easing, you know, the


autumn statement and so on. The budget, actually what we are


talking about is about a billion here or there. Do you think this is


a distraction? It is highly political. Do you think some of it


is a distraction from the big picture that the economy is not


doing well? All that matters is what works at the end of the day.


People don't follow the ins and outs of the budgets and follow what


politicians say. The only thing that matters is does it improve


growth. The political signals people pick up from Wednesday, that


is why it is significant and dangerous. Thank you very much.


Before we take a look atom morning's front pages, matter that


is in Glasgow with tonight's review show.


Coming up on the review show, Douglas Adams buys a zoo, we move


from Downing Streeten to to the The story leaked about the budget


for national pay rates for civil servants and maybe other public


sector workers too. Same story in the Guardian about


having regional pay. That's all from Newsnight, on the


eve of what will be another Welsh Grand Slam, probably, we will leave


you with one of their legends, Mervyn Davies, who died today, Merv


Presented by Stephanie Flanders.

Good shepherd or turbulent priest? As Dr Rowan Williams announces that he is to step down as Archbishop of Canterbury, Newsnight looks back at his time in the role and considers who his successor might be.

Download Subtitles