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