By Robert Asketill
Following today’s announcement of the resignation of the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, a Ugandan cleric who fled the country during Idi Amin’s time is set to become the first ever African to lead the world’s Anglican Church.
Dr John Sentamu, who was born in Kampala in the Kingdom of Buganda and had been a Ugandan Judge during the early days of the late dictator Idi Amin, will in all probability, as the next most senior leader in the Church of England, become Archbishop of Canterbury when Dr Williams steps down next year.
After learning of his resignation, Dr Sentamu who is currently the Archbishop of York said: “It is with great sadness that I received the news that the Archbishop of Canterbury will be stepping down at the end of this year. Our partnership in the gospel over the past six years has been the most creative period of my ministry. In his company I have drunk deeply from the wells of God’s mercy and love and it has all been joyful.”
A very popular church leader in the Anglican Church, Dr Sentamu went on to praise Dr Williams by saying: “He is a real brother to me in Christ. The last decade has been a challenging time for the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. Thankfully, Archbishop Rowan is a remarkable and gifted leader who has strengthened the bonds of affection. 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.”
Dr Williams is to resign after a bruising battle with liberals over the future of the Anglican Communion and the issue of homosexuality. His resignation was confirmed today by Lambeth Palace, which said that he would step down by the end of this year to become Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge. The Archbishop has told the Queen, who is Supreme Governor of the Church of England and will formally appoint his successor, of his plans.
Dr Williams, who was appointed as the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury in 2002 and enthroned in February 2003, described the Church of England as a “great treasure” which was still a place where many people sought inspiration and comfort in times of need. “I would like the successor that God would like. I think that it is a job of immense demands and I would hope that my successor has the constitution of an ox and the skin of a rhinoceros, really.”
He added: “But he will, I think, have to look with positive, hopeful eyes on a Church which, for all its problems, is still for so many people, a place to which they resort in times of need and crisis, a place to which they look for inspiration. I think the Church of England is a great treasure. I wish my successor well in the stewardship of it.”