2012-03-16 Vatican RadioOn Friday Archbishop Rowan Williams announced that he will be stepping down from the office of Archbishop of Canterbury at the end of December 2012. Archbishop Williams, who has led the Anglican Communion since 2002, conveyed his intentions to Queen Elizabeth II, who is Supreme Governor of the Church of England and who formally appoints the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Dr Williams said today: “It has been an immense privilege to serve as Archbishop of Canterbury over the past decade, and moving on has not been an easy decision. During the time remaining there is much to do, and I ask your prayers and support in this period and beyond. I am abidingly grateful to all those friends and colleagues who have so generously supported Jane and myself in these years, and all the many diverse parishes and communities in the Church of England and the wider Anglican Communion that have brought vision, hope and excitement to my own ministry. I look forward, with that same support and inspiration, to continuing to serve the Church’s mission and witness as best I can in the years ahead”.
Dr Williams will continue to carry out all the duties and responsibilities of the Archbishop of Canterbury, both for the Church of England and the Anglican Communion, until the end of the year.
He has accepted the position of Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge with effect from January 2013. The Crown Nominations Commission will consider in due course the selection of a successor.
Following the announcement Vincent Nichols. Archbishop of Westminster said: "‘In the last three years I have grown to appreciate more and more the fine qualities of Archbishop Rowan: his kindness, his sharp intellect, his dedication to striving for harmony between peoples, especially within the Christian family, his courage and his friendship. These will be much missed when he steps down from his demanding office in December. I will miss him.'
'I thank him for all the service he has given, recalling particularly his warm welcome to Pope Benedict at Lambeth Palace, a visit reciprocated with similar joy just last week.'
Ecumenism has been a focal point of Archbishop Williams’ mission and he has met on various occasions with Pope Benedict XVI, both in Rome and in London during the Holy Fathers 2010 UK visit.
Most recently, last weekend Archbishop Williams was in Rome to pray together with Pope Benedict in the church of St Gregory on the Caelian hill, and to give thanks together for the 1000th anniversary of the Camaldoli monastic community which is based there.
Listen to Archbishop Williams speaking about his decision to retire at the end of the year: