In an interview with the Daily Telegraph ahead of his upcoming retirement from the role of Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams has said that while the Church was “wrong” not to have advocated gay equality, Prime Minister David Cameron was wrong to embarrass the Church of England over the issue of equal marriage.
Dr Williams accused the prime minister on bringing “embarrassment” on the Church of England through a “very inadequate” consultation on the introduction of equal marriage. Dr Williams was no doubt referring to the prime minister’s attack on the Church at his annual reception for the LGBT community where Mr Cameron said: “I passionately believe that all institutions need to wake up to the case for equality, and the Church shouldn’t be locking out people who are gay, or are bisexual or are transgender from being full members of that Church, because many people with deeply held Christian views, are also gay. And just as the Conservative Party, as an institution, made a mistake in locking people out so I think the Churches can be in danger of doing the same thing.”
Although Dr Williams admitted that the Church of England has “not exactly been on the forefront of pressing for civic equality for homosexual people, and we were wrong about that.”
Dr Wiliams also moved some way to temper fears that the introduction of marriage equality could lead to the disestablishment of the Church of England saying: “We’ve been assured that there will be no pressure on the Church to perform marriages, but of course as things stand, every citizen has the right to be married in Church. That’s alright, so long as the state’s definition of marriage and the Church’s definition are the same. If the atate’s definition shifts … then we have a tangle.”
Asked how he felt about the lack of movement on the appointment of women bishops or the appointment of openly gay men to the role of bishop, such as Jeffrey John, the Dean of St Albans, twice overlooked due to him being in a celibate civil partnership, Dr Williams said: “I know that I’ve, at various points, disappointed liberals and conservatives.”