Archbishop of Canterbury Floats Thought on 'Presidential Figure' for Anglican Communion

(Brian from Toronto, Canada/Creative Commons)Archbishop of Canterbury Rev. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, holds a press conference in Toronto, Canada on April 16, 2007.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Rev. Rowan Williams, says the demands faced by the Anglican Communion and the Church of England have become too much for one person to handle.

"I suspect it will be necessary, in the next 10 to 15 years, to think about how that load is spread; to think whether in addition to the Archbishop of Canterbury there needs to be some more presidential figure who can travel more readily," he told the Telegraph.

He said future archbishops should keep a "primacy of honor" and remain as the "head" of the Anglican Communion. He added that there should be "less a sense that the Archbishop is expected to sort everything," according to the interview published on Friday.

Rev. Williams made the suggestion as he was considering the role he could have played in easing divisions over the issue of homosexuality within the Communion.

"Thinking back over things I don't think I've got right over the last 10 years, I think it might have helped a lot if I'd gone sooner to the United States when things began to get difficult about the ordination of gay bishops, and engaged more directly with the American House of Bishops," he said.

"I think the problem though, is that the demands of the communion, the administrative demands of the communion have grown, and are growing," he added.

The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion took issue with the article's subhead, which said: "Anglican Church is drawing up plans for a historical overhaul involving the introduction of a 'presidential' figure to take over some of the global role of the Archbishop of Canterbury."

Canon Kenneth Kearon said "[t]here are no such plans. The Archbishop of Canterbury simply said in the interview that he could see that in the future there might be some reflection on how the administrative load associated with the Anglican Communion might be better shared."

He added: "The Anglican Communion has several decision-making bodies, one of which is meeting in a few months' time. Nothing like what this newspaper has suggested is on the agenda."

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