Rowan Williams Steps Down: His Top 5 Controversial Moments

Posted: 16/03/2012 11:43 Updated: 16/03/2012 17:00

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Rowan Williams announced on Friday that he was standing down as the Archbishop of Canterbury after 10 years in the role.

The 61-year-old is no stranger to controversy - from having to deny he backed Sharia Law in 2008, to launching an outspoken attack on the government in 2011 (twice), Williams has had his fair share of media attention.

We look back on his top 5 most controversial moments.

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  • The New Statesman

    Rowan Williams caused controversy when he guest-edited an edition of the New Statesman where he questioned the coalition government's mandate and said their policies caused "anxiety and anger".

  • Queen Elizabeth II And The Duke Of Edinburgh Attend A Diamond Jubilee Multi Faith Reception

    He had said before his enthronement as Archbishop of Canterbury that he could "see a case" for acknowledging faithful same-sex relationships, raising hopes among liberals of a relaxation of traditional church teaching on the subject. But these hopes were dashed in 2003 in the row over the nomination of Jeffrey John, a gay but celibate clergyman, as bishop of Reading. Dr John, who is now Dean of St Albans, was forced to withdraw his acceptance of the post, and Dr Williams went on to acknowledge the "pain" the furore had caused within the Church, saying he had been taken aback by the strength of the reaction. The row over Dr John was soon to be superseded by the worldwide row within the Anglican Communion over the election and consecration by the Episcopal Church in the US in 2003 of an openly gay man, Gene Robinson, who lives with his male partner, as Bishop of New Hampshire.

  • Gay Bishops

    He had said before his enthronement as Archbishop of Canterbury that he could "see a case" for acknowledging faithful same-sex relationships, raising hopes among liberals of a relaxation of traditional church teaching on the subject. But these hopes were dashed in 2003 in the row over the nomination of Jeffrey John, a gay but celibate clergyman, as bishop of Reading. Dr John, who is now Dean of St Albans, was forced to withdraw his acceptance of the post, and Dr Williams went on to acknowledge the "pain" the furore had caused within the Church, saying he had been taken aback by the strength of the reaction. The row over Dr John was soon to be superseded by the worldwide row within the Anglican Communion over the election and consecration by the Episcopal Church in the US in 2003 of an openly gay man, Gene Robinson, who lives with his male partner, as Bishop of New Hampshire.

  • Richard Dawkins debate

    The Archbishop of Canterbury in a recent debate with Richard Dawkins managed to get the famed atheist to admit that he was only "6.9 out of seven" certain God did not exist.

  • Sharia Law

    Williams had to deny <a href="http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23083487#.T2MluGI5KVM" target="_hplink">he backed Sharia law following a speech in 2008.</a>

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Filed by Dina Rickman  |