So that's cleared things up then. No more 'clumsy' or 'misleading' talk. Let everyone know exactly what he meant in language that every man on the street can easily comprehend. Speaking to the opening session of the Church of England Synod earlier this week, Dr Rowan Williams said
"While there is no dispute about our common allegiance to the law of the land, that law still recognises that religious communities form the consciences of believers and has not pressed for universal compliance with aspects of civil law where conscientious matters are in question. However there are signs that this cannot be taken quite so easily for granted as the assumptions of our society become more secular."
Trouble is, this mitigating clarity (which must have been just about the most carefully prepared speech of Dr William's life) leave some questions hanging in the air. And reading Rachel Sylvester's article in the Telegraph deepens the furrows on my brow. It seems that the Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Established Church is accepting that Britain is becoming a secular state, (as well as that British law will inevitably accommodate legal systems based derived from faiths other than Christianity). No point in denying the trend towards 'secularism', the most obvious signs of which are the meagre numbers attending Anglican churches. But it still seems a surprisingly defeatist conclusion by Dr Williams. Perhaps he doesn't realise that he's an opinion leader in our country.
Is Britain any longer a Christian country? Is there any longer any case for the existence of the Lords Spiritual? Should the Church of England become disestablished? These are just three of many important questions that flow from this can of worms that Dr Williams has opened. Until last week I'd have expected the Archbishop of Canterbury to have answered Yes, Yes and No. After reading his 'clarification', I'm not at all sure which way he seeks to lead the Anglican Church - or what how some elements of the Church will react. And then there is the position and opinions of the Supreme Governor of the English Church in all this. This story has a long way to run yet.